So I thought Cypress Hill were East Coast, which tells you everything you need to know about my knowledge about hip hop and Cypress Hill in particular.
I think one reason I thought they were East Coast is the production doesn’t sound as “west coast” as I’m used to associating with West Coast gangsta rap. (I’m thinking about NWA but also g funk.) But I suspect my belief they were East Coast just comes from always confusing their biggest hit with one by an East Coast group. (It’s not my fault, I swear. Also, I think the DJ is from New York.) The production is apparently hugely influential but I know nothing about that.
The thing missing from gangsta rap – at least the main thing, as far as I’m concerned – is a sense of humour. And these guys bring the humour, which makes it much more easy to take. I’m not laughing as much as I feel like I should be, but I find it just way, way easier to listen to when I know these guys aren’t taking themselves that seriously.
They’re all pretty distinct rappers too. Unlike most hip hop I’m discovering, I already knew that as these guys were big enough in the ’90s that I was actually aware of them. But I do think both their voices and their respective flows are enough to make them distinct even if their lyrics weren’t (or the production which, as I said, tricked me into thinking they were not West Coast).
This will never be my thing – both in the broader sense of the genre and the more specific sense of what they’re rapping about – but it sure seems like this is a pretty good album. And, again, I don’t know anything about the actual influence of it.