Cypress Hill – “Back in Black” review

This is the 10th full-length album from South Gate’s very own Cypress Hill. Consisting of B-Real & Sen Dog on the mic as well as DJ Muggs on the boards & Eric Bobo on percussion, the quarter would take the west coast by storm a little over 3 decades back off their eponymous full-length debut with Muggs’ unique production style & their pro-marijuana legalization themes. Other standouts in the group’s discography include Black Sunday, my personal favorite Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom, the criminally underappreciated Cypress Hill IV & even their last one Elephants on Acid. But with the 4 year anniversary of the latter coming up in the fall & since DJ Muggs has been busy fully producing projects for other people ranging from Rome Streetz to more recently Rigz, they’re bringing in Detroit veteran Black Milk to produce Back in Black.

“Takeover” is an energetic opener talking about the return of the group on top of a cloudy boom bap instrumental whereas “Open Ya Mind” goes into a funkier direction celebrating weed being legal in their home-state. Demrick comes into the picture for the groovy “Certified” rightfully bragging about their legacies just before the Dizzy Wright-assisted “Bye Bye” pensively details the warzone that is the hood & the drums are so goddamn dusty.

Meanwhile on “Come with Me”, we have Cypress Hill coming through with a decent homage to the iconic Outlawz joint “Hail Mary” leading into “The Original” taking a funky boom bap route to talk about being OGs in this shit. “Hit ‘Em” finds B-Real & Sen Dog on top of some hi-hats to get anthemic while the song “Break of Dawn” works in a guitar talking about never stopping. The penultimate track “Champion Sound” mixes some elements of trip hop & digital dancehall to declare themselves champs, but then “The Ride” ends the album by jumping on top of a vibraphone & some bongos to tell the story of a crack dealer.

Now for all the fans who weren’t really fucking with Rise Up, then you’re gonna like Back in Black a lot more. In fact, I think it’s one of the best albums that Cypress has put together yet. After all the experimenting that they did on Elephants on Acid, they manage to get one of Detroit’s greatest producers to take them back to their roots & succeeding.

Score: 4/5

Eric Bobo & Stu Bangas – “Empires”

This is a brand new collab album between Eric Bobo & Stu Bangas. The latter is one of the underground’s most in-demand producers hauling from Boston, Massachusetts & the other notably being the percussionist for South Gate titans Cypress Hill. Despite being on different coasts, both parties developed a close friendship off similar interests & are joining forces for 4/20 to drop Empires.

The title track by Vangarde is a baneful opener about painting pictures with Mr. Lif’s mind, but then the next song “Chemtrails” by RJ Payne, Vinnie Paz & Xzibit wastes no time jumping on that boom bap as the trio start shit-talking. “Get With This One” incorporates some percussion & a Godzilla-like horn section as B-Real & Pharoahe Monch get together for a homage to the classic Black Sheep joint “The Choice is Yours”, but then “Total Kaos” by Psycho Les is a spooky recap of 2020.

The song “Move Weight” by Khujo, Lonnie Lyle & The Wordsmith is a downcast look into being street-smart while “Red Dot” incorporates some chilly keyboards as Rob Markman details how every rhyme he writes is 25 to life. The song “No Survivors” by Nowaah the Flood and Watson & Holmes is a cold-blooded depiction of the streets, but then “Pass the Fire” by Demrick is a classy weed-smoking anthem. Meanwhile on “Call It Like I See It, we have Reverie hopping on a weary albeit funky instrumental to insult her competition & then we have Lord Goat teaming up with Krazy Race for the horrorcore-themed “Dark Mind”.

The song “City of Angels” by Blu & Rakaa is g-funk homage to their hometown of LA, but then “Another One for the Books” by Apathy & Celph Titled is a disgusting look (in a good way) at the things they’ve done. The penultimate track “Street Smarts” by Ill Bill & O.C. is one of the most lethal cuts on the album as they talk about “hittin’ ’em at point blank range”, but then “The Reset” by Sick Jacken & Huero Diablo is a feel-good tune about living their lives to the fullest.

I know this album has been in the works for the past couple of years now, but man is the end result a wild ride. The list of guest MCs that got to hop on board is damn near-stellar & it’s really cool to hear both of Eric & Stu’s signature sounds mesh in with each other seamlessly.

Score: 3.5/5

Cypress Hill – “Elephants on Acid” review

Cypress Hill is a legendary West Coast hip hop group consisting of MCs B-Real & Sen Dog alongside producer DJ Muggs & percussionist Eric Bobo. Their first 3 albums are widely considered to hip hop classics, but their material since then has been considered average. However, they are returning with their 9th full-length album after an 8 year hiatus.

After the Tusko intro, we go into the first song “Band of Gypsies”. Here, B-Real & Sen are spirting battle bars over a psychedelic beat. The track “Put ‘Em in the Ground” gets murderous over an eerie vocal sample & after the “Satao” interlude, we go into the song “Jesus Was a Stoner”. Here, B-Real makes many references to weed & religion over an instrumental with a haunting atmosphere.

The song “Pass the Knife” returns to the murder bars over an eerie beat & after the “LSD” interlude, we go into the song “Oh Na Na”. Here, B-Real of course talks about getting high over some infectious horns. After the “Holy Mountain” interlude, we go into the song “Locos”. Here, B-Real & Sen deliver street bars over a gritty beat.

The track “Falling Down” confrontationally talks about life over a distorted bass line & after the “Elephant Acid” interlude, the song “Insane OG” pretty much speaks for itself over a apocalyptic beat. However, I wish it was longer than just 84 seconds. “The 5th Angel” is an instrumental interlude that sounds like it could be playing in a trailer for an upcoming horror movie while the track “Warlord” talks about judgement day over a fitting boom bap beat.

The song “Reefer Man” is a sequel to “Dr. Greenthumb” with a tuba-inflicted boom bap beat & after the “Thru the Rabbit Hole” interlude, we go into the song “Crazy”. Here, B-Real & Sen talk about insanity over a trippy beat. The track “Muggs is Dead” is a psychedelic instrumental interlude while the penultimate track “Blood on My Hands” sees B-Real comparing himself to the Grim Reaper over an ominous beat. The closer “Stairway to Heaven” sees B-Real talking about his prediction of the afterlife over a prominent woodwind sample.

From front to back, this was a strong return to form for Cypress. Sure there are WAY too many interludes, but DJ Muggs’ production is just as gritty as the old days & it’s a bit more experimental too. The lyricism is sharper as well. If you wanna hear a fantastic comeback album from one of the greatest West Coast groups ever, PLEASE give this a listen.

Score: 4/5