It has been six years since Cypress Hill’s last album, Til Death Do Us Part, but the breather afforded the West Coast stoner hip-hop troupe time to reel in big-name collaborators for their newest disc. Rise Up, the group’s eighth studio release, set to be (appropriately) unleashed on the blazer-friendly holiday 4/20, features guest appearances from Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, System of a Down’s Daron Malakian and J.Lo hubby Marc Anthony. “This is the first time we’ve reached out to so many people,” B-Real, in an extra-baggy black hoodie with gold trimming, tells Rolling Stone while kicking back on a recent visit to his group’s new record label in New York. “We wanted to do something special.”
Three years ago while several of the group’s members were busy with solo projects, Cypress Hill set up shop in B-Real’s private Los Angeles studio, the Temple, to “pick out some beats” and get the ideas flowing. While meticulously rolling a joint, Sen Dog explains that the six-year gap between albums was longer than he had expected. B-Real, however, enjoyed the lack of pressure. “We didn’t have an A&R guy knocking on our door telling us, ‘Hey, the record’s gotta be delivered at this time,’ ” he says. “We just decided, we’re gonna record everything first and find a home for it after.” The group was recently snagged by Snoop Dogg’s record label, Priority.
The result is a fuller-sounding LP that melds Cypress Hill’s signature hip-hop and rock sides. And to accomplish a genuine rock vibe, B-Real enlisted an old friend: Morello. The Rage guitarist guest-produces and performs on the album’s thrashy title track and the heavy “Shut ‘Em Down.” “We thought, ‘Who can bring the best part of us in that whole [rock] realm?,'” B-Real says. “Obviously, Tom can.”
The biggest surprise, however, doesn’t come until the album’s “sunset,” as B-Real likes to call the closing track. “Armada Latina,” produced by Jim Jonsin (T.I.’s “Whatever You Like,” Lil Wayne “Lollipop”), is a salsa-flavored booty-shaker with a slick verse by Pitbull and a chorus by Marc Anthony that samples Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” “That was all Jim,” Sen-Dog says of borrowing from the Hall of Fame legends. “But we definitely had to put our own mentality on it. It had to be something about the whole Latino culture.”
With Snoop’s full support (“Having the stoner mentality, he understands us,” Sen Dog says) the group was all business when recording the LP. But when two old legends stopped by the studio, Cypress couldn’t help finally letting loose. “They were hilarious,” B-Real says of a pop-in from stoner heroes Cheech and Chong, who appear on “K.U.S.H.” “You got the funny grandfather chillin’ right there.”
Percussionist Eric Bobo adds that he remembers “hoping not to get in trouble listening to their records” when he was a kid. “I didn’t even get what the Zig-Zag papers were all about.”