The rapper answers your questions about his passion for weed, the group’s appeal to 90s rock kids – and their beef with Ice Cube
You were one of the hip-hop acts that crossed the divide and attracted fans who were into other genres. Did you realise that back in the day? AmongstTheWaves
In the beginning, in 1991, we opened for the likes of Naughty By Nature and Ice Cube, but developed a reputation for energetic shows. We somehow got booked for Lollapalooza and thought: “What are we doing here?” but started seeing crowdsurfing and stage diving. After that, rock fans, metal kids and punk fans started showing up to our shows. Our imagery was rockish and we started winning those kids over without doing that style of music.
Who inspired you when you started? Kaisersoser
Before I knew what hip-hop was, I listened to rock, metal, punk, reggae and old soul. I loved Black Sabbath. In those days, rock kids felt that hip-hop borrowed stuff from others to make hits, but we carried ourselves like a punk band: “If you like us, great. If you don’t, fuck off!”
We were a Latino group singing about cannabis, so there were enough obstacles without being misogynisticB-Real
As seminal creators of the west coast/90s hip-hop sound, how have you viewed genres that have mutated from it, such as British grime? Murdomania
Some of it is really fucking good and some not so much, but that’s music. I love it when they do creative shit.
Your lyrics noticeably lack the sexism that is a feature of a lot of hip-hop – is that a conscious effort? Theplant
I never wanted to do what other hip-hop acts were doing, but also [his bandmate] Sen Dog and myself have sisters and we wouldn’t want them to be talked to that way. Tres Equis was a true story about a girl Sen Dog used to date and I Remember That Freak Bitch was also based on some real shit, but other than that it wasn’t our messaging. We were a Latino group singing about cannabis, so there were enough obstacles without being misogynistic. We were no angels, but over the course of our career we never wanted to be disrespectful to women.
Do you feel any guilt or regret for some of the lyrics, for example How I Could Just Kill a Man? MichaelDillon85
No, because we were able to tell people in the mainstream what it was like in our communities. Normally, the shit that we were singing about got swept under the rug, but we approached music like the saying: “This is medicine. You may not like it, but it’s good for you.” When you live in a place with a lack of opportunities, one option is selling drugs and one way to have your back is to be in gangs. We tried to explain why things were like that.
Since the Simpsons episode [in 1996, Cypress Hill were spoofed trying to remember if, while high, they had booked to play with the London Symphony Orchestra], it has been reported that you were thinking of collaborating for real. What happened? DomiRacerX
[He laughs.] That started as a joke between us and the LSO on Twitter, but we would love to do something, preferably a classical performance of Black Sunday. There were serious discussions, which fell through, but we still talk about it. I listen to classical music and I still think it will happen.
Did [bandmate] Muggs’ work on the Soul Assassins remix of U2’s Numb lead to invitations to dinner parties at Bono’s or holidays with The Edge in the south of France? McScootikins
That would have been cool. Maybe Muggs went and kept quiet [he laughs].
Who would be the ideal collaborator on a Cypress Hill track, dead or alive? eljono
Bob Marley. I Wanna Get High was inspired by Rita Marley’s song One Draw and the whole Marley movement was a big influence on us in terms of us pushing for cannabis legalisation and being consumers of it.
All these years on, how do you feel about Ice Cube’s King of the Hill? Charlie 187
How are things between you guys and Ice Cube? Jakeybo
After we felt that Cube took the hook from Throw Your Set in the Air, we poked back at him on No Rest for the Wicked. He kicked back with King of the Hill, so we released Ice Cube Killa to DJs only. I don’t think he took it as seriously as us in terms of what this shit can turn into, but prior to that we’d been friends and we had a lot of mutual friends who wanted us to mend the relationship. Some time later, on 1 January 1997, he called me and we both sort of apologised to each other in our roundabout way [he laughs] and since then we’ve done shows together and hung out. I’ve got nothing but love and respect for Cube. When I started, he was my benchmark
When you played on Eminem’s Anger Management tour at the Milton Keynes National Bowl in 2003, there was a sound system failure and you performed the first couple of numbers acoustic, with live conga drums as backing. I wonder if you recall one of the best pieces of improvised showmanship I’ve ever witnessed? Magma
I totally remember. We were always taught to keep going and never complain about the sound guy. We knew that any stoppages would kill the show’s momentum. Credit to Eric Bobo, who’d come from the Beastie Boys on tour with us as live percussionist – fortunately, it worked.
Approximately, in kilograms, how much weed do you think you’ve smoked in your life? mauritianarian
Oh man, I don’t know. I’m always reaching new peaks [he laughs]. During our two-hour Dr Greenthumb show on YouTube, we’ll have four or five joints apiece. I’ll probably have six before and another eight afterwards. I’ve built up a tolerance, so we’re high, but not so that we can’t function.
When was the last time the cops “come and tried to snatch your crops”? Did they have to “blow your house down” to do so [a reference to Insane in the Brain]? Rumblefish
He laughs.] Oddly enough, I’ve been pulled over many times here in California when I’ve had a tremendous amount of cannabis on me, but they’ve been stupefied that I haven’t tried to hide it. Law enforcement hasn’t given us as many problems as you might think. I don’t think they believed that we had the audacity to actually smoke cannabis on stage in front of their faces, but they were wrong.
If you only had one method available, what would it be – edibles, bongs, blunts or spliffs?
I stopped doing blunts in ’96, ’97. Bongs I hit now and then. I prefer to smoke regular US joints, without any tobacco, but we’re well rounded, so we can do it all.
What would you take to a house party at No 10 Downing Street? dale69
A couple of ounces and three bottles of tequila. I don’t know if that would do the trick for Boris Johnson. He doesn’t seem to be liked very much, but in the US we’ve also got politicians that no one likes – and a couple that people like too much.
- Cypress Hill’s 10th studio album, Back in Black, is released on 18 March via BMG.