I’d like you to use your imagination (or memory for us oldsters) and try to picture a scenario: It’s fall, 1991. There’s no such thing as a “legal state.” There’s no medical marijuana, certainly no recreational marijuana, no ballot initiatives on the horizon for another half-decade, no decriminalization, no laws in D.C. that nobody can understand, nothing.
Weed isn’t legal in any way, shape, or form. There’s police harassment. There are felony charges. There’s mandatory minimum sentencing.
Hip-hop is leaving it’s Old School phase, gangster (I left the “r” there for Tipper Gore) rap is taking over, and things are shaping up to give us the Golden Age of 1993 to 1994.
All of the sudden, from every dorm room, from every basement apartment full of 20-somethings, from every car bought for 500 bucks and outfitted with another 500 worth of stereo equipment was Cypress Hill. It was lit.
With an eponymous debut featuring a skull with a cannabis fan leaf descending the forehead and a track list that included “Light Another,” “Stoned Is The Way of The Walk,” and “Something For The Blunted,” the West Coast trio of Lawrence Muggerud aka DJ Muggs, Senen “Sen Dog” Reyes, and Louis “B-Real” Freese established itself as the epicenter of cannabis-worshipping hip-hop, paving the way for Snoop Dogg, Red and Meth, and Wiz Khalifa to sing the praises of “the joint,that marijuana,the sensi,the kind, mota, boca loa-loa, Maui Wowie, Mexican greenbud, cheeba, cheeba, Yeska, Humboldt County, the crypt, the chocolate Thai, the Afgani, the Meefrakan, the Indo, the skonka, the bad breath sens.”
Backed by Mugg’s beats, B-Real’s exaggeratedly nasal-delivered stories of Los Angeles Latin street life selling pounds, carrying shotguns, and dealing with “pigs” like the infamous “Sergeant O’Malley,” the group hit the road and began a career delivering, arguably, the best concerts in the history of the genre, embodied by a six-foot mechanical joint used as a stage prop and punctuated by Sen’s yeoman work on percussion and guttural lyrics which perfectly offset the high-pitched whine of his stage and studio brother, Freese.
Cypress Hill’s debut album momentum rolled into seven releases by the turn of the millennium, a music festival tour aptly named Smokeout, and, as time passed, a role as godfathers of the cannabis movement.
The 21st century has seen the release of less Cypress Hill music than the 1990s but they have become ensconced in a wide range of areas including education, legalization support and, especially in the case of Freese, entrepreneurship; B-Real (aka Dr.Greenthumb after a character created in a series of late 90s songs) has expanded his influence among marijuana lovers to include ventures selling a line of glass smoking equipment, cannabis seeds, opening a dispensary in California, and creating his own strains known as Tangerine and Jet Fuel OG. He has also kept his big toe dipped in the entertainment waters through his web series B-RealTV.
As Cypress Hill travels its 25th turn around the sun, there is a new album on the way, shows to be played, money to be made, and a legacy to be expanded upon. It’s been an interesting transition from rough young potheads to cannabis OGs and the future looks hot for the trio. Do yourself a favor, DGO. Catch these guys if you get chance this year and in the meantime, throw on some Latin Lingo and spark another Owl.
Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected]