Cypress Hill: “Drake and Lamar Won in Diss”

Cypress Hill: “Drake and Lamar Won in Diss”

A piece of world hip hop history. A July 12th full of surprises at the Rugby Sound Festival. The evening will feature Cypress Hill, one of the most important rap groups of all time and opening act Assalti Frontali, as well as Inoki. On the occasion of this special date at Isola del Castello in Legnano, we interviewed Eric Bobo, percussionist of Cypress Hill.

What is your feeling with the Italian public?
We have always had a great reception whenever we have performed in Italy, from festivals to regular concerts. It is always exciting to play in a country like Italy, we can’t wait.

Do you know any Italian rappers?
You can really get to know what’s going on in a country when you’re there. I’m very curious to know at an underground level and not only what Italy is churning out and I’ll certainly ask questions to get informed. Today hip hop is all over the world, I happened to hear, even in America, about Italian, Spanish and French rappers because now the scene is truly global. Then Italian rap also often has a nice flow of words, so I’m happy if I can discover something new.

Two years ago you released “Black in black”. Today, far from the promotional periods, you can analyze it with more detachment and lucidity. What does it represent for you?
It was an opportunity to try to do something different, to commit ourselves on an album that was musically coherent thanks to the work on Black Milk’s productions, but without distorting ourselves. It was a gamble because, without a doubt, variety allows us to take more paths and possibilities. The combination created, many would not have liked itwere waiting. Working with just one producer is a gamble, and I think we won it.

It is significant that you still believe in the concept of “album”.
In fact, this approach is missing in today’s music. We live in an era driven by singles. People no longer listen to complete albums like they used to. I grew up listening to my idols’ albums from top to bottom, absorbing their repertoire piece by piece. Then, you know, there are also those who are good at making strong, instant songs, which are then all collected in a project. But I believe that to make a record that has an identity, you really need a broader work, which cannot be only marked by singles. Also because, during a career, one of the most beautiful aspects is understanding which album by an artist you prefer, in addition to the differences between one project and another. If you work only for singles, all of this collapses.

Are you working on new music?
Yes, but it’s hard to put it all together. We have to figure out which direction to take, we’re doing several live shows and we haven’t had time to think about it in depth yet. I can’t say if there’ll be an album or not. There’s some new music, but it’s all still to be defined.

“Black Sunday”, the second album by Cypress Hill, recently turned thirty. You joined the band for the tour for that record, right?
Yeah, exactly. It’s an album that stands the test of time. A lot of kids today know those songs and sing them word for word. That’s crazy because they weren’t even born when it came out. It was possible, in a lot of cases, thanks to their parents who took them to our shows and saw the kind of show we put on. We do very generational shows where there are really pieces of rap history. I think it’s hard to talk about West Coast hip hop without mentioning Cypress Hill and albums like “Black Sunday.”

Another important anniversary is that of “Ill Communication” by Beastie Boys, which is turning 30. You worked on that masterpiece. What do you remember?
It was a lot of fun to make because we all got along so well. The ideas were free-flowing, we made it in six months, the shortest time the Beastie Boys have ever taken to make a record. When you make an album like that, that makes you feel good from top to bottom, and then it becomes a big number one hit, what more could you want? The Beastie Boys are the great History, they left a unique legacy. I am honored to have been a part of that record.

It was an album that wasn’t satisfied, that dared and revolutionized. Is music still like that today?
There is so much music out there that is worthy and daring, but perhaps not popular. I believe that the listener should not settle, they should open up and look for new things. At the same time, artists should look for fewer formulas to make “the songs work” and experiment more. The Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill, if they had not followed their own path, would have downgraded themselves. Following trends can be useful in the short term, but not in the long term. You have to be true to yourself, do what you really feel. Then it must also be said that hip hop is constantly changing, renewing itself, mutating. And this is beautiful. We are facing a new era where I feel that the roots have not been forgotten, on the contrary. I feel a return to a certain 90s sound but updated, fresh. For me those years were the best, copying them would not make sense, but drawing inspiration from them would.

What do you think about the Drake vs Kendrick Lamar diss? Who won for you?
There were two styles, two different worlds in comparison. But I think Kendrick came out on top. And it’s not me who says it, but the people. You can hear his diss tracks on the streets, in the clubs, they ended up at the top of the charts. Okay, there can be a big debate about who was more playful and combative, but in the end it’s the street that decides the winner.