Reviews, reviews, reviews

Last time I saw Cypress Hill was at Lottapoplooza’s ’95 Thunderbird Stadium, Vancouver show. Even before DJ Muggs and crew hit the stage for their much-anticipated set, the cops lined the top of the stadium, but kept their distance, knowing full well there isn’t shit they can do about the ensuing smoke to be blown in their faces. Sen Dog shouts out and orally demonstrates his praise for BC bud and all the cops can do is stand by and watch as the stadium floor becomes a giant smoke-in. It was a great “Fuck you” to the Police.
Cypress Hill came back in ’98 with album #IV and it’s clear from the get-go that, while retaining their “just took a hit from tha bong” nasal style, they’re also moving their early ’90’s hip-hop feel with the late 90’s flow characterized by jazzier, film-score ambience and polyrhythmic, syncopated “relaxed-feel” (to borrow a jazz term) rhyming. MC Baron Ricks adds some fresh style on five tracks including the kinda cheezy, but kinda catchy latino-hop of “Tequila Sunrise,” and even the Cypress Hill boys are exploring uncharted rhyming territory on track 6, “Audio X.”

For those of you who’ve toked with Cypress Hill from day one, fear not, the mandatory marijuana musing rear their blood-shot eyes with “Dr Green Thumb” and “High Times” as well as some Cheech and Chong dialogue (if you can call it that) throughout the disc.

If Cypress Hill would have excluded the unconscious sister-dissing track “I remember that freak bitch (from the club)” this CD would be that much better of a good come-back album.

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Cash Crop hey? I asked Red 1 after their Vancouver New Music West Show in Spring of 1998 what exactly was the intent in naming their latest “Cash Crop.”

“It’s got a tribiguous meaning,” he tells me and then runs off to munch on their Ryder.

So I can only guess that being from the Lotus Land of primo buds that the Rascalz crew do their share of toking, maybe pulled an “indie show” or two to help with financing and mmm ? what’s the third meaning? Maybe their hopes for sales in BC’s underground economy, or record sales? I dunno. I’m only guessing. Perhaps one day Red 1 will get back to me, set the record straight, satisfy the curiosity.

The Rascalz are one of Canada’s premier hip-hop outfits, b-boyz and all, guaranteed to make you move ? physically and mentally. From DJ Kemo flies some of the freshest, jazziest beats I’ve heard in the past year (especially “No Idea”), with Misfit and Red 1 providing the De La Soul/Digable Planets-style consciousness and poetic, melody-tinged rhyming techniques. From what I know, Canadian hip-hop does not sink to the East vs West Coast battles that have unfortunately marred US hip-hop in the past. Up here, unity prevails.

Check “Clockwork” and “Northern Touch” featuring Kardinal Offinshall, Choclair, Thrust and Vancouver native Checkmate gathering with the Rascalz “to create a song ‘together’ with hype-beats and crisp lyrics, that showcase their individual talents.” Keep on, keep on.

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