By Alison Fensterstock, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune Cypress Hill plays the House of Blues Sunday, November 18. Doors at 9 p.m. Tickets $28.50 general admission, $75 for balcony seating. Action Bronson opens.
West Coast stoner-rappers Cypress Hill, who made a splash with 1993’s No. 1 hit “Insane In The Brain,” will play the House of Blues on Sunday, Nov. 18. Besides standing as champions for heavy marijuana consumption, the group was the first Latino hip-hop act to cross over into the mainstream; their music is characterized by innovative samples and creative collaborations which, judging by a recent track recorded with Rusko and Damian Marley, haven’t stopped.
I talked to rapper Sen Dog about metal, Cuba, and the fight to legalize weed in the U.S., below:
Lately, you’ve been collaborating with electronic dance music artists like Rusko and Deadmau5. That seems like kind of a departure.
Musically, I don’t think anyone really knows me except the guys in the band. We’re just so into music -– stuff that’s recorded in a quality way, we become fans of it whether it be hip-hop, rock and metal or R&B, drum and bass, house, whatever. I’ve been listening to a lot of pretty cool electronic stuff and dubstep, you know, and we thought it would be a good idea to go that way, as long as we didn’t compromise our integrity and not sound like Cypress Hill. I think with Rusko we did a really good job of that, to the point where performing it is nothing different in the energy, it feels like I’m just doing hip-hop.
What are you listening to right now?
Right now I’m in a heavy metal phase. I’m playing a lot of old-school Pantera stuff, I like Lamb of God, Slipknot –- and some Motorhead in there. I go through phases, I’m in a metal phase right now.
You and B-Real both have family in Cuba. What do you think about the Cuban government relaxing travel restrictions for citizens there in October?
Yeah, I get all the latest information from my mom and my aunt. Obama made it easier for Cuban Americans to go back and visit Cuba and all that, but I still haven’t gone. There have been changes in Cuba ever since Fidel Castro’s brother Raoul got the chairman’s seat, people could get cell phones and whatnot. And it is easier for me to communicate with my family back home, but it’s still hard to get through. It’s a very touchy subject.
Would you ever try to play in Cuba?
I get a lot of questions about that, people who are from Cuba or who came from Cuba recently saying “You gotta go there, you gotta go there.” It would be a dream to go back there and play, both for me and for B-Real, because we both have Cuban ancestry, but it’s one of those things where, like I said, it’s a touchy subject. In some kinds of ways you’re going over there, you’re playing for the people, but the government’s going to be the one to get all the props for it, so it’s a touchy deal.
Weed is a subject of great interest to Cypress Hill, I understand. What did you think when you heard about Washington and Colorado voting to legalize marijuana use this past Election Day?
Progress is being made slowly but surely. When we came out with our first record, and came out with our stance on proactive marijuana stuff there was nothing like that, and now there is medical marijuana in various states. That’s another thing we consider a win. I’m very proud of Colorado for being among the first to step up into the future and recognize marijuana for what it’s worth. It’s a big deal, and I’m very proud of the people in America who voted and made that happen. People are becoming more open-minded, more and more every day.
Do you smoke as much pot as it sounds like you do from your lyrics?
Only when I’m around B-Real, I smoke a ton of weed. By myself it’s not that much.
What can New Orleans expect from your show this Sunday?
I think that they’re going to be a bit surprised, because we’ve never slowed down onstage throughout all our years performing. We still get inside people’s heads and (mess) with them for a while, and that kind of thing. Overall, expect that Cypress Hill is still going to be able to rock your ass off.