Live Review: Cypress Hill - The Wiltern, Los Angeles
Mon, 03 Nov 2008 12:25:04
Even though "pimpin' ain't easy," being a "Rock Superstar" is much harder. To warrant that "rock superstar" moniker, there are a few crucial requirements. Most importantly, you can't sound like anyone else. Secondly, you have to possess a unique stage swagger. Finally, you've got to make people believe in you and stay with you no matter what. Cypress Hill exhibits all three of those pre-requisites, and they proved their "Rock Superstar" status at the Wiltern on Halloween night.
At "Haunted Hill 2008," Cypress Hill's ghetto psychedelica packed a potent punch, and for an hour and 40 minutes, they rocked hit after hit for the Halloween crowd. The Cypress Hill army stormed the stage with a bang, firing off "Another Body Drops" first. Its thudding baseline counted the march to the morgue as B-Real and Sen Dog traded visceral and violent rhymes that could blow the doors off even the meanest hood. The song wore a hard rock edge and a hip hop bravado that set the tone for the entire evening.
The two legendary MC's dominated the stage, as percussionist Eric Bobo pounded out tribal drumbeats. "Hand On the Pump" and "Lick A Shot" transported the crowd back to the days of the drive-by. Each track resounded like a gunshot, as B-Real flowed fast and furious. His delivery is unparalleled and impenetrable. Few rappers can spit as deftly and dexterously as B-Real can. "When the Shit Goes Down" hypnotized the crowd with B-Real's bouncy lyrical fireworks. Sen Dog was the perfect foil for him, ripping through rhymes in a husky baritone that perfectly complemented his partner's melodic twang. They're hip hop's equivalent of Lethal Weapon's Riggs and Murtaugh—a diverse buddy duo that should not be messed with under any circumstances.
Early in the set, B-Real exclaimed, "If we take you back, you've got to get funky. Are you ready to get funky?" The crowd got funkier than the Fresh Prince on "How I could Just Kill a Man." The song's extended jam saw B-Real join Bobo on the bongos for a propulsive drum break. "Latin Thugs" infused a salsa-riffic melody into the straight-gangsta beats, and the kids ate it up. B-Real and Sen Dog bounced the verses back and forth, as black-and-white video footage played behind them, showcasing some dark hood histrionics.
Of course, the plume of weed smoke was inescapable, especially from the stage, but "Dr. Greenthumb" never sounded so good. Medleys dropped in classic lines from "Tequila Sunrise" and other cuts, further illuminating the band's prowess. When B-Real proclaimed, "You're smoking out the stinkiest fucking green on Halloween with Cypress Hill, motherfuckers," the audience erupted with cheers...and of course more smoke rose from the pit.
Cypress Hill have always been a seminal rap group, but Sen Dog and B-Real deserve true icon status. They're two of the best MC's to ever spit. DJ Julio G scratched a tripped-out ghetto rhythm as the two rappers transformed the Wiltern into their haunted playground. "The Phuncky Feel One" and "A to the K" felt as dangerous as they did during Cypress Hill's early days. Every track from the group's seminal debut and Black Sunday further evinced Cypress Hill's importance in the rap game. "Checkmate," "Cock the Hammer" and "I Ain't Going Out Like That" felt simply explosive, sending a shockwave through the Wiltern. Even though it was Cypress Hill's first time on the legendary Los Angeles stage, they turned it into home.
One of the most powerful moments came towards the end of the set. On their closing cut, "Rock Superstar," Cypress had a little bit of help from Deftones and Team Sleep frontman Chino Moreno. Donning a red tracksuit for Halloween, Moreno resembled Rocky Balboa, bouncing on his toes on the side of the stage holding the mic. As soon as Sen Dog introduced him, he sprung to action with enough force to knock Apollo Creed out cold. Chino freestyled his famous spoken intro from the song, spitting a rhythmic fire that held up against the respective styles of Sen Dog and B-Real. However, when Moreno unleashed his trademark scream, the crowd went insane, and the song exploded. Moreno stalked the stage like a prize fighter never missing a hit on the song, and it was a legendary ending to what's bound to be one of Los Angeles's most memorable hip hop events of 2008.