Release Date: Apr 20, 2010
Record label: Priority
These vets call in favors from a broad range of pals for their first album in six years: Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello provides metal riffs on two tracks, Marc Anthony trills on another, Cheech and Chong supply dazed patter between cuts, and so on. The result is Rise Up, a hodgepodge of clashing styles, but among them are more redeeming moments than you’ll find on most late-career rap offerings. B Download These:Pete Rock-produced throwback Light It Up at amazon.comBlissful pothead anthem Pass the Dutch at amazon.com See all of this week’s reviews .
Cypress Hill's first album for Priority -- released under Snoop Dogg’s tenure as the label's creative director -- is a four-years-in-the-making, against-all-odds success that earns its victory march cover art, at least for the most part. There are a couple merely good tracks -- “Pass the Dutch” being the most merely good -- that act as speed bumps on this otherwise exciting ride, which in typical Cypress Hill style, ramps up on the hater-slaying tracks and chills out on the weed numbers. Best of the former is the title track with special guest Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, while the best of the latter is the strain-listing “K.U.S.H.” produced by B Real and Cypress-associate Sick Jacken.
“In 1991 an artist in Compton picked up the debut album by Cypress Hill. What he heard blew him away; futuristic funk mixed with a die-hard dedication for a certain herb. This is the story of Cypress Hill…” The opening sample is intended to be a powerful reminder that Cypress Hill have been on the block for nearly two decades: but do we really need reminding or does their career – their story – speak for itself? And most importantly, do they still possess the power to blow us away? The question becomes more urgent when you consider that not only does Rise Up come a full six years after 2004’s Till Death Us Do Part but is also their first record since being released from a contract with Sony and being signed to Priority Records by Creative Chairman, Snoop Dogg.
It came as a shock to Cypress Hill fans, and everyone else, when the band decided to take a stab at rap-rock on their 2000 LP, Skull and Bones. Talk about a divisive decision. It is equally surprising to discover that over the next 10 years, they would continue to hold onto that sound. Who can blame them, though? In today’s rap game, selling singles like the chronic-laced, mid-tempo “Insane in the Brain” isn’t going to fly.
Cypress Hill's early work rode a wave of change within the rap world. When gangsterism was coming to public attention, there was a certain rebellious charm to the group's sound. Nineteen years later, the California foursome are doing more of the same, only now it sounds stale. [rssbreak] Too much weed talk and the inclusion of two rock-inspired tracks (one featuring Tom Morello on the title track and another with Everlast on Take My Pain) make the much-delayed album sound derivative, as if Cypress were now aping Swollen Members and Kottonmouth Kings, who borrowed from them to begin with.
After gauche forays into dancehall, dub, and ska on Till Death Do Us Part, there weren’t too many complaints when Cypress Hill went on a six-year hiatus. Their 2004 effort exposed B-Real and Sen Dog as one-trick ponies who had ferried their cartoonish violence and brazen marijuana endorsement one step too far, released unto a market that had heard it all before. Perhaps deciding it was Till Death‘s Caribbean flavor rather than the increasingly tedious subject matter that sparked such unanimous disinterest in the record, Cypress Hill stubbornly sticks to their tired ganja-and-guns formula on their latest effort, Rise Up.