Exclusive: Welcome Back To Planet Cypress
Legendary West Coast hip-hop group Cypress Hill have long cemented their place in music history with a massive back catalogue of hits over a career spanning 26 years. Core trio B-Real, Sen Dog and DJ Muggs show no signs of giving up the game as they prepare the release a new album in the beginning of 2015, the first as a full collaborative effort between the members in 10 years.
Cypress Hill recently brought the house down at the launch night for MADE Music, an initiative that will work with selected artists and provide resources that matches their talent. MC Sen Dog was able to offer some insight into life as a struggling artist, the new Cypress album and his thoughts on today’s hip-hop and how the group fits in.
Can you recall how Cypress Hill first managed to break into the music industry back in 1989?
When we were starting artists and struggling musicians we did whatever we had to do to get recognized. Whether it was freestyling at a nightclub or supporting other acts like Ice T or anyone else coming through Cali in the late 80’s. We were just there to be part of it.
Were you given help by anyone in particular?
Cypress Hill really didn’t get that man. The only person who was really willing to work with us was DJ Muggs. He had already done a record with a band called The 7A3 which was signed by Geffen Records. B and me were basically the last two guys off the block that hadn’t started recording demos. My brother Mellow Man Ace had already been signed by Capitol. Muggs was really the guy who hooked us up.
Do you think initiatives such as MADE Music are important today for helping struggling but talented musicians?
Yes I definitely think so because there are so many talented musicians that don’t have the avenues to open doors or meet people. Running into dead ends and frustrations is all part of the game and all artists to some degree have to go through that.
Any help that I could ever give an artist I believed in and helped get signed wasn’t or any financial gain, it was just because I believed they could make a strong contribution to hip-hop.
The new Cypress Hill album is the first in four years and first in ten with DJ Muggs as producer. How significant is it to once again be working as a collective trio?
It’s very important that we’re back with our original nucleus with DJ Muggs on the production. It took all three of or personalities, talents and chemistry together to make Cypress Hill launch off the ground. Having him back in the fold is only natural and only going to improve the sound of Cypress Hill and elevate us to the level we want to be at.
What’s your relationship like these days with Muggs in the studio?
Muggs is personally tough on me, but I like that because it shows he cares. He’s in there challenging me, which is important because as an artist who’s been doing this a long time I need to be challenged when I go into record. I don’t want to do any kind of rap and hear ‘alright that’s great, next track’.
Who are some of your favourite current hip-hop artists?
I like J-Cole, I got to see him in LA and was very impressed. I’m also really into ScHoolboy Q. I really dig the guys who are out there on their own like Kendrick Lamar. He’s not following any set of rules. It’s very important that you’re original as a young artist. We all have our influences but you still have to remain you.
How do you feel Cypress Hill fits in with hip-hop scene today?
Where we are now Cypress Hill is not hip-hop, it’s not rock ‘n roll, blues, soul, reggae or latino. It’s not one of those things it’s all of those things. To me we’ve moved on from just a hip-hop group and now we’re just entertainers on a high level.
Cypress Hill has its only place in the galaxy. Whatever happens we’re always going to have our cult following that’s with us to the end of time. We are our own vibe, we are our own planet.
Cypress Hill photographed exclusively for Milk Made by Andrew Boyle