It’s been nearly a decade since Cypress Hill released a group studio album, but that changed late last month with their new LP Elephants On Acid. That effort restores the production to DJ Muggs, a welcomed shift both for the group and its legions of fans. In honor of the project, the South Gate, California quartet has been making a press run, and most recently, they stopped by the Hot 97 studios for a conversation with Ebro In The Morning.
During the interview, an interesting topic sparked when B-Real was discussing Cypress’ come-up in the early 1990s. Dr. Greenthumb says that during the filming for the music video for their breakout single “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” things got antsy. The video was filmed in the middle of Manhattan, including some vintage footage of Times Square from nearly 30 years ago. At the time, the then-trio’s RuffHouse Records label-mate Tim Dog had just released his infamous video diss track “F*ck Compton,” which was a dig at a slew of West Coast rappers and groups, especially N.W.A. In the Ced Gee-produced track, the proud Bronx, New Yorker spit, “I’ll crush Ice Cube, I’m cool wit’ Ice-T / But N.W.A. ain’t sh*t to me / Dre, beating on Dee from ‘Pump it Up!’? / Step to the Dog and get f*cked up! / I’m simplistic, imperialistic, idealistic / And I’m kicking the ballistics / Having that gang war / We want to know what you’re fighting for / Fighting over colors? All that gang sh*t’s for dumb motherf*ckers!”
Ice Cube, ironically, was one of the cameo appearances, along with Q-Tip and others, that would end up in Cypress’ breakthrough 1991 visual, directed by Shady Perez. While Cube had recently split from N.W.A., he was still called out by name. Knowing Tim Dog was there, things went left when the video’s director wanted to take a group photo.
“It had just come out because I remember when [Ice] Cube showed up,” B-Real recalled. “He had got to New York City and heard we were filming a video, so he shot down there. EPMD had apparently been telling Ice Cube about us for a long time. They were like our street team. He came to the show and ‘Shady’ David Perez, who was the director of the video wanted–obviously you’ve got all these rappers, and he wanted to get a shot with all of us, and Cube was like, ‘Nah man, I ain’t shooting with dude. I gotta go home and eat.'”
Heads may wonder why Cypress Hill didn’t come with that same energy. They explain that to them, it was just music. “We felt that too, but it was like, ‘Ah whatever. A song’s a song,” B-Real said. “Nobody said nothing to us. But you know that’s music. What are you going to do man?” Executives had Cypress rolling with Tim Dog during the early 1990s. “[Sony executives had us sit next to Tim Dog and go on tour with him]. At that time, you didn’t say no [to offers like that].” Moments later, he adds, “That was a crazy tour, ’cause that tour that we went on with Tim, we were opening for 3rd Bass. We were all releasing music at the same time. Sony thought, ‘Well, let’s package it all together.’ It was cool on the East Coast; people was eatin’ that sh*t up. Then, when we got to the West Coast, Tim knew how real it was with them N.W.A. fans., those Eazy-E fans. Interesting situations popped off.” B says that Cypress was able to avoid getting in the crossfire of the beef. “Unfortunately, we were traveling on the same tour bus. So if they did decide to get with him, we were gonna be right in the middle of all that sh*t.”
Although the cameos are seen in the video, the idea of Cypress, Q-Tip, Cube, Tim Dog, and others all together seems surreal. Tim Dog died from complications related to diabetes in 2013.
Notably, Cypress entered a brief beef with Cube and Westside Connection during the mid-1990s. That situation has long been resolved.
Also during the interview, Cypress Hill discussed creating “Insane In The Brain,” a period of beef with Westside Connection, and the group’s connection to the weed game. Cypress’ new album Elephants on Acid was released on September 28 and features 21 songs and no outside MC’ing. It’s their first group release since 2010’s Rise Up.
#BonusBeat: Cypress Hill’s brand new video for “Blood On My Hands Again.”