The thrilling debut album from this intense New York City trio makes their city feel alive once again
Cypress Hill : Stoned Raiders
Raiders of the lost... um, what was I saying?...
An ominous sounding bell rings out in a deserted churchyard, empty but for thick swirling clouds of sensimillia smoke. A gnarled acid-rock guitar riff wails forlornly in the distance. Welcome back, then, to multi-million selling Latino dons of West Coast hip-hop, Cypress Hill: the band intent on bringing the creepiness back.
For a group widely acknowledged as having provided the blueprint for everything from Eminem's sneering-tot vocal style (filched from head Cypress Hillrapper B-Real) to nu-metal with their blunted rap'n'roll masterpiece 'Black Sunday' back in '92, they're sounding mighty pissed off.
Understandable. Without their fusion of hip-hop heaviosity with the sonic brain-damage of Rage Against The Machine, the world may well have been spared the scourge of Alien Ant Farm and the horrors of Fred Durst's rap on 'What's Going On?'.
The Cypress Hill are clearly keen to set the record straight. 'Kronologik' - featuring Kurupt - is a bitterly paranoid appraisal of their own quantum success, from the blissful early days "chillin" with the Beastie Boys, smokin' lotsa weed to the dark days of '95 "still tryin' to cope with being a rap star".
'Trouble' - the erstwhile follow-up to the truly incredible 'Rap/Rock Superstar' - is a pale approximation of it, whiney where it should be magisterial, and 'Psychodelic Vision' isn't the all guitars blazing mind-meltdown you hoped for but a dreary rap noir. Shit, even 'Catastrophe', armed as it is with the best Sabbath-riff the Cypress Hill can muster here, falls short of the mark.
What's going on? Maybe that purest quality Taliban-resin which has fuelled
the Cypress Hill's paranoid onslaught for all these years is finally taking its toll. Muggs has talked openly of the band's deliberate attempt to shake off the attentions of
the limelight with murky third album 'Temples Of Boom' and, sad as it to report, 'Stoned Raiders' is similarly elusive. 'Lowrider' provides some welcome
G-funk relief, as does the light-hearted mariachi-funk of 'LIFE' (featuring Snoop protégé Kokane), but by the time they finish up with a grouchy 'Here Is Something You Can't Understand'
(erm, cheers, guys) it appears clear that Cypress Hill are already planning two years off, minus the endless promo,
doing what rap superstars do in their downtime.
Like most stoned raiders, it seems they've forgotten what they were looking for in the first place.
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