parody by nacrowe
its one of the big musical ironies of my life that it took me moving to WEST AFRICA from SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA to learn about one of the greatest WEST COAST HIP HOP groups of all-time, CYPRESS HILL. that transition happened in 1996 when i was in sixth grade and to be honest, i was completely IGNORANT about HIP HOP when i lived stateside since family didnt have cable television (much less any of my childhood friends) and none of my friends or neighborhood kids were into it. shortly after moving to NIGERIA, a LEBANESE classmate of mine (and MASSIVE POTHEAD) basically EDUCATED and INDOCTRINATED me into the church of CYPRESS HILL as he had the first three records at the time: CYPRESS HILL (COLUMBIA, 1991), BLACK SUNDAY (COLUMBIA, 1993) and III: TEMPLES OF BOOM (COLUMBIA, 1995).
while i never got into smoking MARIJUANA, i was very much taken aback by the STREETWISE LYRICISM and PROPULSIVE DELIVERY of the gifted MC tandem B-REAL and SEN DOG as well as the INGENIOUS PRODUCTION of DJ MUGGS which both had the potential to be FOREBODING as well as PSYCHEDELIC. the combination of those two elements made for a CINEMATIC AURAL EXPERIENCE that was CONTAGIOUS and INCREDIBLY COMPELLING to just get lost in for hours. in essence CYPRESS HILL was my entry point into HIP HOP. end stop. looking back at that period in the mid-1990s, NIGERIA was in a transition period whereby things got more than a little DANGEROUS at times, especially where we lived in LAGOS. years of rampant CORRUPTION effectively rendered the place the wild west. even traveling to and from school was everyday was done with an armed guard with a size-able automatic weapon. i say this to make the point that CYPRESS HILL was the absolute perfect soundtrack to this completely FUBAR situation, one in which people visibly struggled for SURVIVAL. the music at its core seemed to CELEBRATE that STRUGGLE and the FORCE OF WILL it took for those trapped in its INSIDIOUS clutches to maintain a sense of HOPE, DIGNITY and HUMANITY.
from my love CYPRESS HILL grew an appreciation for later HIP HOP artists and groups i became exposed to over the coming years including PUBLIC ENEMY, NAS, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, ERIC B & RAKIM, THE PHARCYDE, MF DOOM, DE LA SOUL, OUTKAST, RUN THE JEWELS and the WU-TANG CLAN. and it goes beyond HIP HOP, as BRITISH TRIP HOP acts like MASSIVE ATTACK, PORTISHEAD, THIEVERY CORPORATION, SNEAKER PIMPS and TRICKY werent that far removed from what DJ MUGGS was up to on a purely SONIC LEVEL.
i know that much of their public profile is surrounded by MARIJUANA ADVOCACY (which i support), much like other NOTABLE acts like SUBLIME, 311, SLEEP, BLACK SABBATH, THE GRATEFUL DEAD and CANNIBAL CORPSE, but for me what make a CYPRESS HILL such a seminal group is their ability to coherently present a COHESIVE LYRICAL and AURAL PICTURE of life in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA for the SOCIALLY UNDERPRIVILEGED and CRIMINALLY UNDERSERVED. if WEED makes that CREATIVE PROCESS happen, then i am all here for it. they are one of the key musical groups of my youth that helped me emotionally make sense of TRAGIC surroundings and TRAUMATIC events that marked my three-year stint in LAGOS as a kid. for that i am still indebted to them.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that originally aired on new year's day back in 2020. the playlist includes music from throughout CYPRESS HILL's catalogue. enjoy!