Cypress Hill Mini rock fest 'Smoke Out' comes to Kualoa
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writer
And true to form, "The Cypress Hill Smoke Out" a three-years-and-running Los Angeles-area rap and rock fest named after its host act's well-documented extracurricular activity has remained faithful to its double-pronged nickname.
One of the largest single-day music festivals now annually plying the West Coast concert scene last year's San Bernardino show attracted more than 60,000 attendees the Smoke Out, in its quest to assemble some semblance of rap-rock diversity, has managed to attract a who's who of the genre's most inspired (System Of A Down, Limp Bizkit) and insipid (311, Xzibit) acts. This year's experimental Smoke Out mini-tour basically a couple of California arena dates and this weekend's Kualoa Ranch fest, in anticipation of a larger tour in 2002 is no exception. There's a similar revolving door lineup, which in California linked Cypress Hill on stage with the likes of The Deftones, Busta Rhymes and Method Man, and here in Hawai'i with Pennywise, NOFX, Suicidal Tendencies, Guttermouth, Ryshe and local punk rockers The Knumbskulls.
The inspired/insipid Smoke Out analogy also holds true, though, when considering the musical history of the event's headliners, Cypress Hill. Like dedicated Smoke Out ticket buyers, Cypress Hill fans have learned over the years to take the good with the bad, musically speaking.
In April 2000, the band known for catchy dope-inspired anthems such as "Insane In The Brain" and "Hits From The Bong" from 1993's multi-platinum "Black Sunday" CD broke new ground (for them, anyway) with "Skull and Bones," a two-CD collection featuring an inspired disc of groovable hard rockers ("Get Out Of My Head," "Can't Get The Best Of Me") that finally revealed the East L.A. hip-hop legends' below-the-radar munchies for propulsive guitar rock.
Sadly, though, these thrashing rockers were packaged with another "Skull and Bones" disc littered with the group's umpteenth collection of hosannas to the wonder of weed ("Can I Get A Hit," "Highlife") that, while more lyrically and beat clever than much of the current crop of hip hop out today, ultimately came off as only slightly less tired than a pipe full of old bong water.
Subjects worth a comment from Cypress Hill founding members B-Real (a.k.a. Louis Freese), DJ Muggs (Larry Muggerud) and Sen Dog (Senen Reyes)? Definitely.
But after several attempts to get hold of Cypress Hill band members via telephone for their thoughts on the Smoke Out and the group's increasingly rock-inspired leanings, we gave up somewhere after the sixth (!) scheduled phone appointment passed and deadlines loomed. Something about not being able to locate the whereabouts of DJ Muggs, the group's management apologized profusely.
Too bad, really. Because even with the all-too-easy criticism of its continued weed-inspired witticisms, Cypress Hill really seems to be that rare breed of music pioneer enduring, yes, but more importantly, always evolving that one hopes will someday marvel audiences mainly on the merits of its very real substance, rather than its jokey substance abuse.
"I turned B-Real on to his first joint when he was 13 or 14," Sen Dog told Entertainment Weekly in 1993 about the rap trio's innocent beginnings in the rugged L.A. barrio of Cypress Hill. In 1988, the two friends hooked up with New York transplant DJ Muggs, entering talent contests and finding local clubs that would let them mess with their burgeoning rap style.
"We would sometimes have a line about a joint or a bong in our songs," Sen Dog explained to EW. "It was just something that came out naturally. But then one day we decided to do our first get-high tune." Several of which would make Cypress Hill's self-titled debut album for Columbia's Ruffhouse label in 1991.
|Guttermouth (above) and NOFX join the line-up at "The Cypress Hill Smoke Out," Sunday at Kualoa Ranch. The one-day rock fest is part of a West Coast mini-tour.|
Taking on former Beastie Boy percussionist Eric Bobo as a member in 1994, Cypress Hill released several critically well-received, but softer-selling, albums throughout the '90s, including 1999's "Los Grandes Exitos En Espanol," an all-Spanish language disc recognizing their sizable Spanish fan base. Less publicized have been the group's longtime rock-oriented musings, including collaborations with alt rock gods Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth on 1993's "Judgment Night" soundtrack, and Sen Dog's dalliances with his own punk-metal-rap hybrid SX-10.
Set for a Dec. 4 release, Cypress Hill's suspiciously titled eighth album "Stoned Raiders" nevertheless promises to bring more of the million-selling "Skull and Bones'" guitar heavy rap-rock hybrid leanings to the forefront, hopefully placing much of the group's decade-plus flirtation with reefer madness even more firmly in the background. Studded with guest appearances by Method Man, Kurupt, Fear Factory and N.W.A.'s MC Ren, a handful of "Stoned Raiders" tracks are being introduced to fans on the Smoke Out tour.
"We tapped into something that came sort of natural to us (on 'Skull and Bones')," said B-Real, in a recent media release. "Our focus is hip-hop, but we're still gonna experiment with the band for the live show's sake and see what else we can do. You want to constantly evolve and grow, so we'll keep seeing where we can take it."