This week the truly iconic Cypress Hill joins People’s Party with Talib Kweli sharing their incomparable journey in hip-hop and beyond. Cypress Hill broke ground lyrically and culturally with their unique flows, groundbreaking beats and weed-laced rhymes. Their formula catapulted them into global stardom almost instantly and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
One of the band’s biggest initial hits was “Hand on the Pump.” On this episode of People’s Party, B-Real tells Kweli that the violence expressed on the song had authentic roots but its impact was unexpected.
“We didn’t know that this song was going to have such an impact on people when we play it,” he notes. “It became the blow-up song,”
Reflecting on the dangerous mix of rap life and thug life in LA at the time he tells Kweli, “That’s who we were. We had those pistols on us. We had the pumps on us. It wasn’t uncommon for us to go party out with like fifteen cars and everybody has got weapons in the cars.”
Prior to getting into rap, both B-Real and Sen Dog had a history in the gang life of Los Angeles. In the 1990s, as crack took over the hoods, gang life gave birth to a wave of street warfare previously unheard of on American streets. Earlier in the episode, B-Real speaks frankly about dancing on the razor’s edge between shooting rap videos and shooting at rivals.
“We were very much living that shit,” he says. “Because coming out of the gangbangin’ into the music, I know that there are gonna be some motherfuckers who forget about who I am [in the LA street life] and be like ‘that motherfucker’s disappeared.’”
According to B-Real, the original concept for the song came from his friend Bret Bolden aka Bret B [from the LA Crew 7A3]. Thinking back he says, “Bret started the song. And he knew me. He actually taught me how to turn raps into songs. Before we were just writing rhymes on paper. We didn’t actually know how to write a chorus.”
The end result of their collaboration was one of hip-hop’s greatest anthems. And Cypress Hill’s self-titled album went on to sell more than 2 million units.