Cypress Hill have been merging Rock and Rap with more success than most since 1988; notching up Grammys and MTV videos with ease as Rap went mainstream in the early nineties, but there has always been much more than novelty singles such as 'Insane in the Brain' to Cypress Hill. They were at the forefront of merging Rap and Rock, bringing creative credibility to a genre dismissed by critics as pure novelty; like Jive Bunny it would soon be forgotten in their eyes.
Twenty-four years later Cypress Hill are one of the last forefathers of modern Rap still standing. The group has never been afraid of taking on new challenges and diversifying its musical output; boldly releasing material in Spanish and collaborating with such diverse artists as Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth. Their latest release Cypress x Rusko EP sees them collaborate with Dubstep artist Rusko and takes their music on a journey through synth heavy soundscapes.
'Lez Go' announces the EP’s intent to yet again reinvent the Cypress Hill sound with melodic butterfly synth-lines juxtaposed against long wobbly bass notes. The signature vocal style of B-Real still unique as ever, however the lyrics are predictably about marijuana, a lyrical subject which is repeated throughout the EP to the point of tedium, 'Roll It, Light It' continues the weed theme with lyrics such as, "We came here to get you high" throughout the intro. The track is more accomplished than 'Lez Go' with Cypress Hill’s old school gangster rap flows leading the line, but at times its keyboard-lines feel clunky and an air of repetition is already creeping into the EP.
'Shots Go Off' changes things up considerably with a beat crafted from gunshot samples, but as other instrumentation arrives the track begins to feel like it has been assembled using synth pre-sets rather than personally honed settings. The addition of Damian Marley on vocals on 'Can’t Keep Me Down' adds a touch of class. The Dance-Hall groves standout from the other synth laden tracks and Marley’s feel-good vocal is the finest moment of the entire collection.
Songs such as 'Medicated' and 'Can’t Keep Me Down' are enjoyable and some of the other songs stand-up well individually, but as a unit many are just too similar to have a major impact on the listener.
- Stephen Byrne