A Celebration of Cypress Hill’s Distinctive Debut Album 31 Years Later

Considered a sonic blueprint for Hip Hop, today in 1991 Cypress Hill released their self-titled first album that had the commercially successful singles, “The Phuncky Feel One”/”How I Could Just Kill a Man,” “Hand on the Pump,” and “Latin Lingo.” Released by Ruffhouse Records and Columbia Records, its popularity was boosted by urban radio and college radio at the time. It was both critically and commercially successful, eventually becoming certified double platinum as well as favorably appearing in ranking lists from various magazines, like Rolling Stones “Essential Recordings of the 90s.”

Album cover for Cypress Hill’s debut album

The group’s conception was a mash-up of the East and West. Cuban-born and California-raised brothers, Sen Dog and Mellow Man Ace teamed up with NYC natives, DJ Muggs and B-Real. Initially naming themselves DVX (Devastating Vocal Excellence), the group changed their name to Cypress Hill after Mellow Man Ace left the group to pursue a solo career. Cypress Hill refers to the Avenue Cypress in South Gate, California.

Cypress Hill spun dope-fueled tales of revenge, revolution, recreational drug use, gangbanging, and cultural pride. Like R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, but with a hardened voice and a B-boy attitude, Cypress Hill slow-walked their funk-flavored way through a minefield of anthems (the still sizzling “How I Could Just Kill a Man”) and comic manifestos (“Stoned Is the Way of the Walk”). Heavy on the bass line and punctuated by flashes of wit and rage, Cypress Hill’s joint was definitely one to draw deep on.

– Amy Linden

Cypress Hill unapologetically pushed Mary J activism, containing weed smoking anthems, alongside tales of ghetto violence in an innovative and engaging manner. Among the main progenitors of West Coast and 90s rap, Cypress Hill is a unique presentation of an animated and cartoonish style used to paint LA street tales, Spanish and English lyricism, DJ Mugg’s distinctive production, and the pairing of B-Real’s nasal vocals alongside Sen Dog’s more aggressive style.

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