Cypress Hill

You don't wanna test the perro!  Cypress Hill has been selling millions of albums since 1991, helping to open the door for Latinos in Hip Hop while touring the world.  Senen Reyes, the Cuban-born, Los Angeles bred Cypress Hill veteran better known as Sen Dog, is stepping up to the plate this year.  Sen, brother of Mellow Man Ace, is currently working on his first solo LP.  Perhaps the biggest treat to Hip Hop fans is his upcoming collaboration with Mellow on their first duo CD entitled "The Reyes Brothers". 


Sen spoke with LatinRapper in an exclusive interview about his upcoming albums and how he and Mellow are going to be taking it back to rap's roots. 


Who are you collaborating with on the album?

Snoop Dogg. I'm gonna work with him, trade songs, do a song for one of his records. My brother is gonna be on it. I'd like to feature some people that I dig and that I respect that as artists and as people in general. I got a lot of friends, as far as the availability involved, but there's people in L.A.. I wanna work with. If I can get a chance to work with any of the Beastie Boys... I can't even think of names right now. I wanna carry most of the weight right now on the album. But a feature here and a feature there. Probably B-Real will spit on it too.

Whose handling the beats?

Well I'm working with a bunch of different people right now. Muggs, he's the chief. But Kalil, this cat from L.A., he's got some interesting sounds. DJ Ace from Rhyme Syndicate, Fred Wreck. Those are the main guys I'm gonna be doing music with.

How would a solo Sen Dog LP differ from the Cypress CDs?

Ah man, its gonna be way different ‘cause Cypress Hill is not just Sen Dog's ideas or B-Real's ideas, its everything. We all have different likes and stuff. Things that I like, Muggs may not like it for a Cypress album. Doing this thing myself, I can be free with it, and not care what critics think. Whatever I like, whatever gets my head nodding. I'm not gonna be strictly hip hop or R&B. Whatever feels good, if I come across a hot rock riff, I'm gonna use that sh*t. We're gonna do the music that I like. Its not gonna have a Cypress sound at all, if anything it will be my voice spitting sh*t on it. But I wanna stay away from anything I've done in the past, the first breath of fresh air in a long a** time.

Cypress released Til Death Do Us Part, you didn't have that many appearances. Is that because you were gearing up for your solo?

Nah, man. All I can say is that I recorded at least 20 songs for that album that I was on myself. Why it got to that point that I only appeared on 5 or 6, I don't understand how that works.

Many people consider Latin Thugs the hottest track on the new Cypress LP, how did you come about the decision to do a collaboration with Tego Calderon?

Alchemist came down to do that song Latin Thug, he's been working in New York a lot with artists out there. After I finished that song, everyone said it was hot. Alchemist said, you know they got this kid from Puerto Rico out in New York right now, he's got a sick flow, I think he would be nice on this album. Alchemist gave me a couple of Tego CDs, I listened and said ‘oh yeah'. Tego spit some sh*t and sent it back, it was hot. Not only is he hot right now, but he's a talented lyricist.

You took a break from Cypress years ago to develop your own rock/rap group SX-10, What's going on with SX-10 at the moment?

We're also talking to Hawino [Records] people, they saw us play at the Roxy in Hollywood. And that night we opened up for Kottonmouth Kings, the label came down and saw the whole act, so we're talking with them right now. Hopefully I'll be in the studio recording that album in a month. SX-10 is like the strongest music that I've ever created with anybody as far as using my full range of talents. It's a thrill to get out there and jam, I'm glad we've been able to stay a band throughout all the turmoil that got us from being where we want to be in the world of music. We're not giving up , everything that derails us makes us stronger. We're gonna come with a great f*cking album, its gonna kick a lot of a**.

Cypress has been dropping albums since ‘91, why wait 13 years before deciding to do a solo joint?

‘Cause I never wanted to, man. I never wanted to do a solo record, I always liked being part of a group. It never really hit me to do a solo record, as far as I was concerned I was part of one of the biggest groups in the world with Cypress. That takes time right there, I was chilling with the kids and not touring with Cypress and whatever, I wasn't really thinking about doing a solo album until Muggs tells me that he was putting out his own label and wanted an album from me. Surprised the sh*t out of me. He got a studio, he's got the beats. Waiting that long to do a solo album can be a good thing for me, it can be a second part of my career, a fresh beginning, a fresh start, good for me and my future.

Its been said that Cypress wasn't going to record any more albums, will Til Death Do Us Part be the last Cypress LP?

Being in a group is like being in a family, we've known each other the last 20 years. Everybody has their vision of where the group should go next, I don't think we are gonna stay away. I think Cypress will continue, I don't think Til Death Do Us Part will be our last album, by any means. Right now after this touring here, we'll chill and spend some time apart and see how we feel about things. I think we really need to reinvent our music, re-energize it, come out with a real a**kicker mentality, like take no prisoners type thing. I don't see Cypress like going away, I think were gonna come back.

Your brother Mellow Man is getting his new album re-released by Sony. Word is Sony is putting out an album with you and him, The Reyes Brothers, by year end. What can you tell us about the CD? (the album may be released by Hawino Records)

You know when we first started in Hip Hop, me and Mellow were the first two cats on our street into it, things just had a really Hip Hop attitude back then. We lived the life, we lived the culture, we breakdanced, we pop locked, rapped at parties. When I meet with Mellow to record a song or do a show, it goes back to the feeling of when we were kids. Anybody can live Hip Hop, but the feeling that ‘I'm so def you can make a cartoon out of me', that kind of b-boyness, that comes alive when me and Mellow are together. A real critical hip hop record is gonna come out of there. Street respect and radio respect, straight Hip Hop from the streets of L.A... That's the vibe I get with my brother.

Who else will you two be working with as far as beats and guest appearances?

I'm gonna have Mellow, work with him on it, I like a lot of his thought as far as Hip Hop wise. He's still a true hip hop purist, there's a difference between me and Mellow. He's a purist and I'm like alternative. So I wanna talk with Mellow, we been talking over some names and stuff, people that we'd like to work with if our budget can take it. I'd love to work with Premier from Gangstarr, Manny Fresh, Fred Wreck of course, to get some different feels in there, some different flavors. Hip Hop wise is to work with Dr. Dre, he's got the midas touch on things. Even now, he's still the greatest hip hop producer that ever lived. Just a lot of people out there, to like get out there and work with and do music with. As far as guest MCs, just the hardcore stuff. Really put some shine on the album, its hard to say everybody's names ‘cause you think of all the great rappers there is. But after all that Reyes Brother gotta carry our own weight. Expect a song in there with Tego, Alchemist will produce on that album as well. I think its gonna surprise a lot of people.

Will this album be in Spanglish, or with tracks in both complete English and Spanish?

I'd like to concentrate on the English sounding album with tastes here and there with some Spanish sh*t, I know Mellow will come with a lot of Spanish stuff. I know he's gonna come with some flavor, but for the most part I'm gonna kick some English sh*t on there. Until we further develop the style and I think its gonna be to the point where you don't have to speak Spanish to understand it, it's gonna be a universal language. That's what I want to accomplish, I want the black kids to be into it as well. I don't tend to alienate anybody.

Cypress is known for its extensive touring, what are some of the CDs you like to bring with you when you're out on the road?

I like music from different eras. I like 60's, Jimi Hendrix and Cream, Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, James Brown, Otis Redding. Cameo, Parliament Funkadelic, Run DMC, EPMD, Public Enemy, Wu-Tang, just a bunch of different things. Red hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots. My new favorite sh*t is Slipknot and Velvet Revolver.

Out of the hundreds of shows that you've done, if you had to pick one always that stands out in your mind the most, which one would it be and why?

That's easy man, Woodstock 1994, because it was the first time they did Woodstock in 20 years. I got to meet Steven Tyler that day, he ended up telling me that his daughters were big fans of ours.

Are you doing anything outside of Cypress and SX-10 business wise?

The albums are gonna be under Latin Thugs (the label). I got a clothing line that's gonna be called Latin Thug, its like crack in the streets of L.A., sh*t sells fast.

Are you still heavy into the lowrider scene?

Yeah, well I still got my lowrider but I'm doing the Harley thing more these days.

What rides do you have at the moment, and which one is your favorite?

My brand new Escalade, I just got it today. 24 inch chrome. I have an 83 Buick Regal on hydraulics, 97 Chevy truck, 2003 Harley....

How has the rap game changed as a whole between Cypress Hill's 91 album and 2004's Til Death Do Us Part?

Well, it used to be more of a Hip Hop culture thing. It was more conscious MCs talking about building the culture, more family oriented. Now its more materialistic, kids talking about their money in videos, showing off their jewels. It's more of a thing now, ‘look at me I'm rich, I'm gonna flaunt in your face'. When I came out people were more modest, doing things for the culture. Public Enemy was talking about uplifting the black community, KRS-One was teaching kids about hip hop. It's lost that. Now its like, ‘look at me I'm rich!' Big up, much respect to everyone selling these records ‘cause I know its tough, but that's the difference in my opinion.

Any last thoughts?

Big up Germany, Mexico, big Cypress Hill markets there. Number one market in the world, Boston, all my homeboys over there. I wanna say thank you for all the support, the fans around the world, I love everyone who ever bought a shirt or a CD. For sure I'm gonna keep coming up with fresh innovative things to do, thanks for all the support.


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