This 1996 Cypress Hill event was post III – Temples of Boom, their third studio release, and enveloped a moment in time that was arguably the group’s pinnacle state. At least, that’s what a bunch of us Juniors thought when we went to see them at the Dane County Expo Hall in Madison, Wisconsin. $19.50 for tickets… are you kidding me?! Oh, I forgot to mention that 311 and The Pharcyde were also present… UNDER $20, PEOPLE! $31.74 adjusted for inflation… still an absolute steal!
Back before their unscheduled hiatus, Los Angeles’ Cypress Hill unleashed a one-two punch with 1998’s Tequila Sunrise and Dr. Greenthumb, resurrected here. The latter was a personal favorite on and around the time of this 12″ release, but the former is / was just as good. Here’s hoping you had a 120 proof day… Lord knows we needed it!
Not enough can be said about the soundtrack to the 1993 thriller Judgment Night. Pairing unlikely acts for an entire album’s worth of new material was a brilliant marketing technique from Music Supervisor Karyn Rachtman. You may know her work as Music Sup on a few of these other masterpieces: Desperado, Four Rooms, Reservoir Dogs, Mystery Men, Boogie Nights, and Pulp Fiction, to name a short few.
An unexpected find during an unexpected trip to the thrifty on my way home from the office, Cypress Hill’s 1991 debut and a sealed, bootleg, double LP of the Beastie Boys’ Hip Hop Sampler comp were a surprise upon these weary eyes, to say the very least. Having already owned copies of each (two-times over, in the case of Cypress Hill), I didn’t once hesitate to question the overpriced $3 Records sign above the frail shelf. Yoink, and yoink.
Gotta’ love the thrifties. Also, RIP Joe Cocker.
Lately, I’ve been starting to acquire “youthful albums” I’d previously owned on compact disc. The Offspring’s Smash, Blue Meanies’ Kiss Your Ass Goodbye!, and now, Green Day’s Dookie. Limited to 1000 on transparent green vinyl, and offered as a Hot Topic exclusive, I’d been hunting down this green vinyl copy for more than a few years. I haven’t given it a proper spin, yet, having just received it in the mail today, but I’m happy to welcome the ol’ guy into the “wall of fame.” One by one, I’ll eventually own my original CD collection on vinyl. Next up, I’m thinking, may be Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday.
The year was 1994, and oh what an awkward and transformable year it was. Allow me to paint a 20-year-old picture using swift, roomy strokes if I may. In those days, I occupied the basement of my parents’ suburban homestead. I shared my first quasi-studio apartment with a blow-up mattress for a bed, ripped out Snowboard Magazine pages taped to plastic sheets covering the rows and rows of canary yellow insulation, a loud and obnoxious hot water heater that would wake me up in the middle of the night in a dead panic, and of course, my adorable mother popping down every half hour to painstakingly adhere to the family laundry. My “bedroom” throughout the duration of my high school days was a labyrinth of new and exciting music, and at the time, few syncopated sounds were more otherworldly (for a suburban white kid living in the rural Midwest) than Los Angeles’ own, Cypress Hill.
As a gullible and easily impressionable youth, anything that wasn’t early 90s country radio (or the overly played and equally obnoxious doobs of the grunge scene) grabbed my conformed and sheltered ear. Jane’s Addiction, Onyx, Beastie Boys, Operation Ivy, Ministry, Vacuum Scam, and The Pharcyde all became rhythmically projected voices, representing the outside world; a world I knew nothing about, but that which promised gilded and painful excitement.
Cypress Hill’s first two albums are critically flawless. Fans of Tim McGraw and those still clinging to Pearl Jam may have a different (and mortally incorrect) opinion. On the We Ain’ Goin’ Out Like That single, which is really more of an EP, there featured a song that was released exclusively to this release. This song, the opus of my youth, and a song my friends and I still quote on a weekly bases, is Scooby Doo. No mysteries are solved during the three minutes and 39 seconds of this epic story, and nobody utters the icon phrase “jinkies” (at least in English). Instead, Scooby Doo is a bass-heavy, skull-vibrating anthem covering themes of street confrontations and the ultimate and fatal error of crossing that forbidden line in the sand. It was, at the time, a force so strong, we’d play it on as many different stereos as we could to see whose rig had the biggest bass. Lancer Dancer is the legendary champ on all counts of said experiment (his mobile speaker system would knock you up side the head and inject a subtle, but piercing ringing sensation, both pleasing and a bit sobering).
Scooby Doo, if only for me, and a modest core group of friends, is 1000 times more legendary than Stairway to Heaven, and will forever live as the biggest, most atrocious bass-tastic song I’ve ever had the distinct pleasure of experiencing.
You’d aroun’ da way, mang… I know where chu at!
I didn’t exactly pay $1.57 for Bent Fabric’s debut album, Alley Cat, but a record released in 1962 (adjusted for inflation, of course) calculated at $11.76, priced at $2.99 just yesterday, was something I certainly couldn’t turn down.
Bent Fabricius-Bjerre, AKA Bent Fabric, is an 88-year-old Danish pianist/composer who, on this album, plays merry ol’ ragtime music with the cunning grace of someone like Sergei Rachmaninov… only, you know, with cats.
When I was a youngster, I absolutely loved those “can you spot the difference?” games in the back of magazines that presented two, almost identical pictures side by side, where in which the object was to find the subtle differences between the two pictures. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered, almost by accident, that several of the doubles in my collection were different issues, and therefore had very subtle differences. I thought to myself, hmm, why not create a “can you spot the difference?’ game for the readers of The Prudent Groove?
Cypress Hill was my single-handed introduction into the vast, unremitting world of Hip Hop music. I was a fair, Junior High student at a tiny school when introduced to this abstract genre (my graduating class was 63 kids… it sucked). Hip Hop as a whole is certainly not abstract, but when you grow up in a tiny town with tiny ideals and little room for any sort of outside thinking, it really didn’t get more abstract than Hip Hop (that was until I discovered AC, but that’s a post for another time).
Cypress Hill boasts of bongs, fat-jammy-blasts and brotherhood (a nice way of saying “gang”), while set to a Funk backbeat and fanatical lyrics. LA’s finest scored a fat sack with these 16 tracks, so much so that it was remastered and released on blood-shot-eye-red vinyl (this version) in 2011 for its 20th anniversary.
You see, cassettes were big in my day, and I’m now spending the bulk of my “adult” life acquiring my trophy albums on vinyl. It was while listening to this album in the school library, via Walkman (and split ear buds hidden inside the sleeve of my shirt), that a buddy and I got busted for listening to music in school. Not busted so much as yelled at, but it scared us from ever doing it again. It was at that moment when I realized that Cypress Hill were a troublemakers, and at the age of 12, that was a welcoming ally.
The music is straightforward, early 90’s, social-class-bending Hip Hop. There emerged a slew of outstanding Hip Hop albums during the few years spanning 1989-1993, and the tongue-in-cheek approach mastered by Cypress Hill on this debut set the high-bong-water mark.
Cypress Hill isn’t considered Old School Hip Hop, but for me, and my friends who dove headfirst into this genre, there is no school older than the music produced during the early 90s. Cypress Hill would hit another homerun with their 1993 release, Black Sunday. After that they’d release six more albums, but they never matched the perfect blend of ENORMOUS beats, witty lyrics, and catchy one-liners.
Lala la la lala la laaa!