Cypress Hill - Black Sunday
There was always the hint of rock within the loops and samples of rap and with both Cypress Hill's eponymous debut and this, their second, the connection was made clear. With samples from Dusty Springfield and Black Sabbath, Cypress Hill dressed the album in a sleeve that recalled thrash/death metal, redesigned their logo with the spikes that will be all too familiar to fans of rock and stared out from the inner sleeve behind the visual scratches employed by Ministry and Nine Inch Nails.
Black Sunday, then, was the moment that Cypress Hill made a break out of hip-hop. With white suburban kids losing interest in rock and attracted instead to the blunts, beats and bullets of hip-hop, Cypress Hill, along with Public Enemy, were top of the list when these kids loped into K-Mart. With Black Sunday, Cypress Hill delivered a bleak, muggy album that lost a little of the humour, kept out the girls and pulled the violence and dope so much closer.
So, unlike the gallows humour of Pigs that opened Cypress Hill, Black Sunday gets going with I Wanna Get High, as stoned a song as Cypress Hill ever recorded, before bringing in the tense and paranoid funk of I Ain't Goin' Out Like That, a much nastier song that anything on Cypress Hill. Aside from the odd jump into stoner territory - and the split is much more explicit this time around - the bleak and threatening Lick A Shot and Cock The Hammer tell of the moment that B Real was shot in Los Angeles and of the stalking of a target across the rainy streets with revenge on the mind, respectively, with the latter offering beats provided by the loading of a magazine from an automatic pistol.
With the stoner hip-hop coming from not only the opening track but also the self-explanatory Legalize It, Hits From The Bong and, in the shape of the album's big hit, Insane In The Brain, Black Sunday could only be more obvious had it shipped with a pack of Rizla papers. Those familiar with the early-nineties rap scene will remember that the Cypress Hill stage was decorated not only with a giant poster of a hemp leaf but was completed with a eight-foot puffing joint and, with these four tracks, Cypress Hill had the music to match the walk.
The best song is saved for last, however, with Break 'Em Off Some thumping to a desperately funky riff over which B Real raps about a shoot out in LA. With the record scratched to hell, twisting around a hammered piano and weighed down with a huge beat, Break 'Em Off Some is as good as Cypress Hill ever got and tailed the moment before they moved on to Temple Of Boom nicely.
The downside to this album, however, is that there are a shocking lack of tracks that make a real difference between this and the band's debut. Put Hand On The Pump from Cypress Hill alongside this album's Lil' Putos and the similarities between the two releases are made clear. In addition, Black Sunday also has snatches of Real Estate's guitar sample, the trumpet that opens Stoned Is The Way Of The Walk and the guitar from Tres Equis. Put the party sounds of Born To Get Busy and Hand On The Glock beside each other and Black Sunday begins to sound a little stale against its predecessor. The strangest feeling comes when you're damn sure that samples used on Cypress Hill have reappeared on Black Sunday even when a playing of both says not. I'll confess that I spent a couple of hours juggling the two albums tracking similarities convinced that what I was hearing on one would also show up on the other. Add to that the feeling that Sen Dog's rapping becomes too old too soon and overall, Black Sunday just doesn't feel as complete as Cypress Hill despite having the better songs.
Buy one, buy both? Whilst Black Sunday picked up the better reviews on its release, Cypress Hill is now the one that garners most of the praise and deservedly so. Despite most of the songs on Cypress Hill being not much more than sketches, none of them outstay their welcome while the last third of Black Sunday, with the exception of Break 'Em Off Some, fairly drags by. Sure, the first half is great and Cock The Hammer, Break 'Em Off Some, Insane In The Brain and Lick A Shot are better than anything on Cypress Hill but overall Black Sunday feels like not much more than a remix of the debut. If you've gotta have both, do so but if you're only looking for one Cypress Hill album, make it the debut - you won't be disappointed.
Last updated: 27/04/2018 11:41:59