Cypress Hill is one of the most successful hip-hop acts in history. Their debut album Cypress Hill, followed by the acclaimed Black Sunday, went platinum and double platinum respectively; the classic 'Insane in the Brain' was a crossover hit, establishing them as one of the most formidable acts in U.S. music. Their third album, Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom, also went platinum.
But they are also one of the most adventurous. Skull and Bones, released in 2000, spanned two-discs, one hip-hop, one rap metal; Till Death Do Us Part ventured into reggae, and included a collaboration with Damian Marley.
And now they've turned themselves to dubstep, collaborating with UK dubstep darling Rusko on a five track EP, with plans for an LP in the works. The 405 chatted with Sen Dog about genre, the importance of experimentation, and about keeping hold of the Cypress Hill sound.
Are you happy with the EP?
We've accomplished what we were trying to accomplish, and it was how I envisaged it: you know, each of us coming in, and meeting in the middle. We're doing something that's, you know...fundamentally it's a dubstep project -- we brought it to words so that we could be comfortable with it and we could be OK with it but the music part of it is very important to us, so we had to make sure that we met in the middle of the street with it, if you will.
It's still Cypress Hill on this project, you know? And when you listen to the whole EP, as a whole, then you'll get the jist of where our vision was headed; where we first started.
How was it, collaborating with Rusko? Did the whole thing grow pretty organically?
We started out together and then with each of our touring schedules and what-not...there was some emailing involved, you know, some tracks being sent on tour. But then other times, we were able to work on this all together, which was kinda cool too.
You recently said that dubstep could be seen as a progression of hip-hop.
When you take it down and you dissect it, and you get to the foundation of it all, there's something...you can definitely rhyme to it.
Dubstep is still something that's mainly performed by Djs. And Djing, it's an element of hip-hop, so when you take a cerebral outlook towards it you can find that you can still be yourself as a hip-hop person. It's not...we didn't take it to a point where it wasn't going to have a strong presence of Cypress Hill in it.
The cultural aspect of hip-hop is something that can lend itself to dubstep?
Exactly. When you get that hip-hop element in it, you start giving it another identity. With 'Roll It, Light It', and with the video -- it's a great song and everything but there's other stuff going on in that that makes you go: “Oh shit.” It's taking it to another fucking level, you know what I mean?
Cypress Hill has often experimented with genre. Do you think that kind of experimentation is important in music?
It's all a part of musical evolution and musical styles growing. I've always been into the whole experimental sound, just trying something new, and different, to see what happens – I've always been down for that. I mean, way back when Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. did their thing...I've always been interested in that kind of work. Right back to the stuff Afrika Bambaataa was doing: all that stuff worked.
As a kid that was the stuff that caught my attention. I didn't know it then but when I eventually got around to recording my own music, I was always down for “Let's try something different”; “let's rap over AC/DC, over 'Back in Black'.” We were always trying to do something different, back when we were growing, as kids, and when we got to a point where we could do different things – I thought it was great, and I thought it was good, and it worked for us, and for that reason I'll always take that chance and take that risk and see what comes up, because most of the time, you're going to come up with some really interesting stuff. And, I think, such is the case with the Cypress Hill-Rusko EP.
Is dubstep a genre you're going to keep exploring?
Yeah, definitely. This could just be the beginning of things. Originally we were just going to do one song with Rusko, and we did that one song, and then every one was going “we should do a project.” I think, definitely, it'll be something we'll be exploring deeper, in the future.
The Cypress Hill/Rusko EP ‘Roll It Light It’ will be released this April.