Music review: Cypress Hill, Rise Up

Posted: April 24, 2010 in Album Reviews

It’s been almost 20 years since seminal rap group Cypress Hill arrived on the scene with their brilliant self-titled release. Coupled with the 1993 classic album Black Sunday, the weed-loving Latino rappers rattled off a 1-2 punch of greatness rarely seen in the rap world – two extremely enjoyable, consistent albums all the way through with very little or no filler.
After Black Sunday, Cypress Hill continued to deliver albums, and while they’ve never released a terrible disc, their output has been increasingly uneven over the years.
B-Real, Sen Dog and D.J. Muggs took a six-year hiatus before releasing Rise Up this week, not so coincidentally on 4-20. Even on some of the latter-day inconsistent discs, the group has always embraced a wide array of sounds, never sticking to one style. But rarely have they been able to fuse everything together consistently. Until now, that is.
Throughout Rise Up, Cypress Hill drift seamlessly from the bass-heavy funk of their old days to heavy-rock guitar-infused tracks with a bevy of quality guest starts. Former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello lends his shredding ability on two of the standouts – the title track and “Shut Em Down.” System of a Down guitarist Daron Malakian delivers another heavy track (Trouble Seeker), while Everlast and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda lend their vocals to two others (“Take My Pain, “Carry Me Away”.
I love the rockers, but the hip-hop tracks are just as good, including the pumping bass-heavy opener “It Ain’t Nuthin.” Throughout the album, as usual, the boys let it be known that they love a certain herb, and that lifelong passion blazes through (pun fully intended) on tracks like “Pass the Dutch”, “K.U.S.H (Keeps Us So High) and “Light it Up.”
But my favorite track is the final one on the album, and one of the most catchy things they’ve ever done. Surprisingly using the sample of the Crosby, Stills and Nash classic “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and getting a helping hand from Latino singer Marc Anthony and rapper Pit Bull, “Armada Latina” is the best thing they’ve done in years and a brilliant way to cap off a stellar return to form. Great to have these guys back, doing what they do best.

Sod rating: ****


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