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Mental Hollow Points with B-Real of Cypress Hill
11/20/07 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview

 

rapper B-Real of Cypress Hill

Flash back to the late 80's Los Angeles: gang banging was grabbing national headlines. In the midst of this chaos, a young Latin banger lay on a hospital gurney after a rival gang's slug had punctured his lung. Yet rather than become another statistic, the South Gate vato directed his life towards music.

Fast forward to 2007. As front man for Cypress Hill, one of Hip Hop history's biggest groups, B-Real is in a much better place: Millions of records sold, and an icon of Hip Hop performances.


This month, B-Real continues with his mixtape series with "The Gunslinger 3: For A Few Dollars More", showcasing his skills as a talented producer in addition to being a lyrical veterano. B-Real delivers one of his most introspective interviews yet and speaks on his upcoming solo and the new Cypress Hill album in this LatinRapper.com exclusive.

LatinRapper.com: Can you give me a breakdown of the Gunslinger III mixtape?

Basically its the third part of the series that I'm doing with that particular mixtape. I wasn't originally going to put it out 'til sometime next year, well after my album was done, but I decided to take a little bit more time working on my solo album.

 

At the same time we're working on a Cypress record, I didn't want any of my momentum to fizzle, so I definitely said I'm going to put this mixtape out there now so people can get something from us before we put the major release out. Basically to keep the fans interested.

 

We have all this material that we love and want people hear. So we said, why make them wait that much longer, let's just put it out, and that's why I did the gunslinger series.

Where can they buy your mixtape?

I believe it will be in stores and available on my website, and probably other websites. But directly on my website, which is www.brealonline.com or my Myspace page and find it there, www.myspace.com/brealonline .

At least four of the tracks have original beats, did Muggs did any?

No.

Who produced those tracks?

I did, I think two of them. My partner J Turner did the other two, I believe.

How long have you been producing beats?

I been producing for a little bit. I haven't really made that kind of a name for myself because of my obligations to Cypress with the writing aspect. I haven't really tried to do anything for Cypress in the past because that was Muggs' area.

 

I didn't want to take away from anything he was doing or mess up the formula. I just been producing on the side for a few years, about five. I'm just working on a couple different projects, trying to get my Audio Hustler name brand out there, which is the name of my production company. I produced a song for Proof for his record, I produced some stuff for the WWE a while back.

 

I did a few things out there. In this movie that just came out called Splinter, I did a few songs on that soundtrack. Slowly but surely, I'm getting my name as a producer out there. Its all about timing, when the time comes, a lot more people will know that I'm doing this.

Audio Hustlers keep getting mentioned, is that your production team?

Yeah, that's my team of producers. I'm one of the producers, its a team of four guys. We all sort of collaborate or do stuff by ourselves, we help each other out at the end, give each other suggestions. If I'm doing one beat, J might help me out with it, if J's doing something, I might help him out with it, it goes around in the ring.

Who are some of the guest features on the new mixtape?

I have my partner Willie Malo, Sick Jacken of the Psycho Realm and Cynic from Sick Symphonies. Cat named Tres Midas, young talented up and coming cat, spits a lot of fire. And this other cat named Young Dee out of Philly, we're currently working on his album right now, producing his record.

 

He's also got a mixtape coming out soon. I didn't really try to go for names, I tried to get with the guys I run with, to shed light on. I'll save the big cameos for the major records.

You mention not fizzling out, your solo drops in 2008 but your first mixtape dropped back in 2004, why such a long delay on the solo?

'Cause I wanted to take my time on it, I didn't want to rush it out there. Primarily what we do with Cypress, we take our time, we try not to rush it. There's so much s**t out there you gotta compete with, you don't want to put anything half a**ed or that you feel is incomplete. Also try to figure out a strategy on even how to sell records these days, because its different than when we started.

 

Especially with everything going digital, all the free download s**t, so we're trying to come up with a good plan as well as a good record before we put it out. It may even come out after the Cypress record, it just depends. I finished my album, now we're starting work on the Cypress record. We're just going to decide when we're going to drop mine, whether it's before or after.

 

It's something I did purposely, cause I wanted to take my time and make sure that when I did come out, it was the right time. There's so much s**t out there to choose from, if you're not getting major radio play, its gonna be a hard grind. I'm just taking my time to make sure I got the right songs and the right plan.

A year ago, Sen Dog told me that the new Cypress Hill album would drop in 2007, so are we looking at 2008 for a new Cypress CD?

Yeah, we're looking at 2008. Originally we were gonna try to put it out this year, but being that we were doing shows sporadically throughout the year, it kind of threw our schedule off. Its kinda hard going on tour and then coming back to the studio and trying to drop vocals. You need at least a week off to get your voice back together. At least I do, I don't know about any other rappers.

 

Usually I need at least a week for my voice to heal up from the touring, and then we get back in. Being that everything was sporadic on every weekend, it was really hard to lay any vocals down that sounded right. We're pushing it back to '08. Plus we have to have the right music, have to be picky about the music that we're working on.

 

Genuinely, we take our time when we make records, we don't rush them, we come up with our best ideas when we're not trying to rush, when we're letting it all come together.

Will your solo or the next Cypress album incorporate the same rock sounds as your last albums?

I don't know if its gonna be the same. There might be hints of it here or there, but we're not trying to make another Skull and Bones record, we're trying to evolve from that. I'm sure there'll be certain little things that are rock orientated.

 

I don't think half the album is gonna be like that, I think it's gonna be a few songs here and there. Usually we vibe it out, whatever happens happens. So there's no plan for that, but if it happens, it happens.

I have a relative that's a priest of Santeria, I remember reading an article on you in the 90's that said you were considering to become a Babalawo.

Oh no, I am. It probably said that I considered, but I was already a Babalawo when that came out.

Is that still an active part of your lifestyle?

Yeah, pretty much. When you get involved in that, it's the responsibility you take on. It's hard, especially when you're an entertainer or in this business, you don't have a lot of time to do a lot of the practices. But yeah, I've been a priest for eight years now, seven, eight years. Something like that.

 

It's a part of a culture as a Cuban, being a Cuban, my family in Cuba was into it. I wasn't that into it coming up as a kid, I didn't know that much about it as a kid, I would only see through other people what it was. When I got older and started seeing and hearing different things, people would pass on knowledge to me about things.

 

Then eventually it called to me. When it called to me, I had a choice to either ignore it and keep doing what I was doing, or to embrace it and go forward. I decided to embrace it, and I've been practicing ever since.

So that's from the Afro-Cubans in your family.

It's from my mother's side of the family, my father was Mexican. They weren't.... (laughs) that side of the family wasn't too into that kind of stuff. Mostly Catholic and some Christian. My mother didn't even really get into it until after I did. One of those things.

Some people can't get over that I have relatives who sacrifice animals.

Yeah, its something that not a lot of people would understand or get the gist of. Most religions, whether they're organized or however they categorize it, they do some sort of sacrifice at some point in the year. That's most religions, you just don't hear about it because they don't speak on it. Obviously there's politics involved.

 

But with the Yoruba, with Santeria or Ifa, however people are calling it because everyone has a different name for it, it's not necessarily considered an organized religion. Its makeup, I don't know if it offends people, but it scares people, they make a big deal more about what we do than what anyone else does. That's kind of unfair, but it is what it is and you deal with it.

 

But we have laws to protect us, because its not like no animal cruelty. The animals are being taken care of, the way they are sacrificed is in a humane way. Its for a spiritual purpose, people can think what they want. It took me a minute to get over that part of it. It's just something that some people are gonna understand and some people will never understand because they don't want to. We just gotta keep it moving and do what's best for you.

Does the fact that you're Cuban or Mexican influence your music?

Nah, not really. I am what I am, and I'm proud of that, and I always embrace that. But I never let it direct me or guide me in the music. Then you start to get categorized as a Latin rapper making Latin Hip Hop, and we never wanted that, because that pretty much puts you in a box. And when you get put in a box, its hard to get outside of that box with the record companies that only market you to one particular sort of audience.

 

When you're in the business of selling records, you want to sell records to everybody, and not just a certain demographic or a certain ethnic background. You want a record to be universal. So fortunately we never got labeled as Latin rappers, we were just labeled as Hip Hop artists. We just try to stick by that, man. We're Latin and we love it and are proud of it, but that's as far as it goes.

 

We've done some Latin songs like Latin Lingo, and we've done some reggaeton songs, just to give a little extra to the people who listen to us already regardless of who we are. But the Latin fans who know we're Latin and represent us, we try to give them something special.

 

When we did our Spanish remix record and some of the other songs, that was well after we established ourselves as hip hop artists. We try not to be something that record companies exploit and put us in that little box.

You're fairly well spoken, this doesn't sound like the same B-Real who bombed on that game show.

(laughs) The Weakest Link. The thing was, I was really f**king nervous, and I wasn't high at all. They were throwing us off with the pre-rounds. They'd do a thing where they'd show you how a round is supposed to go, by saying 'Xzibit, what's two plus two', and they didn't ask us any multiplication questions in the pre-round before the camera started.

 

So when she asked me, I thought that's what she was asking me, I thought she was asking me addition, that's why I answered seven. (laughs) That's cool, though. That's the way you keep people on their toes, make them think something else, you surprise them. It was a fun thing, I didn't really want to do it, but I thought it'd be fun, so I gave it a shot. Working under pressure and nervous isn't a good thing sometimes (laughs).

You still do promotional things with Joker brand clothing, what business ventures are you presently involved with?

I got a couple things in the works. I don't necessarily like to talk about them, I'm superstitious in the sense that if you bring them up before they actually go through (laughs) it actually goes away. But there are a few things in the works that I'm trying to get off the ground aside from my production company and stuff like that. Creative content, s**t like TV and like that.

 

Music is my base and my first love, I try to stick with what I know. All the other opportunities that come after that I try to take advantage of, if they're right for me. Like if somebody comes up with a movie or something like that. I try to be careful of what I do, you don't want to regret certain situations, certain decisions you make just because it sounds good. Then when you actually you do it, it makes you look bad. You gotta be real picky about the stuff you do.

 

I got a few things going on. As far as clothing, when I co-owned Joker, it was great because we had an idea to take this line in different places than when we started. But I had to get out of the game because it was so stressful, I couldn't concentrate on music and do business with Joker at the same time. I pretty much gave up my shares to my partners Estevan Oriol and Cartoon. They've taken it to where we wanted it to go. The only way we can go from here is up.

 

I try to keep active with them because I believe in the line, I believe in them, they're my good friends and I want to help them. Its something good that we all started. Even if I'm not an owner in it anymore, I still believe in it, I try to pump it up as much as I can.

I've interviewed both Estevan Oriol and Mister Cartoon, those are both very humble and goal-oriented guys.

Yeah, very much, man. They were definitely instrumental in keeping Cypress Hill alive throughout the years, even when we weren't putting out anything. Or getting the support from the record company when we were signed to Sony, there were a lot of people that were key in keeping this boat floating while there was a big hole it (laughs). I gotta always give respect to those guys.

Cypress is the best selling Latin Hip Hop group in history, with platinum and gold plaques. You've personally appeared on 30 million sold albums. Do you guys ever stop and say that you have nothing left to prove to anyone, and decide to release one last Cypress album?

I think its yes and no. Yeah, I think we've done much more than I think I've ever thought we would do. When we came out, I expected.. I didn't expect anything actually, I was hoping that we did something we liked. I was stoked to be making a record in the first place. When I came from and where I came from was not such good places to be in a position to make a record. I was just happy with that, at the time.

 

Looking back on it now, all the people who said we wouldn't go anywhere or make a dent, all the people who didn't believe in us. I feel like, okay look, we told you so. Or we didn't tell you so, but this is for all the negative motherf**kers who didn't think we were going to do anything. In that sense, we were able to prove a lot of people wrong. And even prove myself wrong, 'cause I didn't think we would achieve any of stuff that we would achieve.

 

I thought that we'd do okay, but didn't think 16, 17 years later still making records, still packing shows, still relevant in the game, know what I mean. There's a sense of accomplishment, but as far as saying we've accomplished enough, let's just pack it in and retire, nah.

For me, and I know I can say this for Sen, we're competitive. We look at whatever else is out there, and we say well, we gotta be as good if not better than they are. We still love the game, if we didn't love it, and it was just about business, yeah, it would probably be something. Forget this, we've done what we were gonna do, let's go on to something else.

 

But its not just about business, its about we love making music, we love the reaction that we get from people when we play this music. I think that's part of what keeps us going, we're trying to achieve more. Even when you lose, you can't win them all. When you lose, you get up, dust yourself off and try again.

 

Just like sports, teams compete for the championship, sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. But if you won before and been a champion, and you lose the next time, your team doesn't just quit and go away. It gets back on the horse and starts training for that championship level again. Its the same for us, when we win its great, when we lose we dust ourselves off.

 

We love doing this s**t. If we didn't love it, we would have been past it already. Let's just call it a game, everybody go their separate ways. I think the love of it is what keeps us going.

Is there anything that you want to say to your fans who will read this?

I just want to say thanks to all the fans that been supporting Cypress throughout these years, old fans and new fans. Spread the word, we're coming back. I also want to throw this out there, myself and Sick Jacken are in talks about working on another Psycho Realm record together, that's something that the fans can maybe look forward to in the future.

I know Sick Jacken was working with Muggs for a new project, but I thought you and Psycho Realm were a wrap.

Well it was for a long time, we kind of went our separate ways. We've been doing little things here and there. We plan to come back with some really hard s**t and take over once again.

Towards the end of the late 80's you were down with Neighborhood Family and gangbanging, back when you got shot. Now that you're getting your grown man on, how do you look back on that lifestyle?

I wouldn't change what I went through because it made me who I am and made me open my eyes to a lot of things. It obviously wasn't a positive time, I learned what I learned. I took all those negative things and made a positive. When I look back and see all the stuff that we were doing, I look at it like, man, where was my head at. How was I not thinking clearly.

 

I don't regret it, but at the same time I'm not proud of it, I learned life lessons from it. I try to steer kids and people away from that sort of lifestyle through some of the songs. Not glorifying gang life or the violence, but showing the end result of it. That's what I try to do in some of the songs. I know some people will misinterpret it and say, how can you say that when in this song you're talking about this and that.

 

But you have to listen to what the song is saying as a whole, and not just the words 'I'm gonna kill you', there's a story in it. If people listen, they get it. If they're listening to just the words and not hearing the story, obviously they'll never get it. I try to make amends with my maker and my conscious by saying certain things in the song. But at the same time, not trying to preach. I hate being preached to, I know a lot of people do. I just try to give examples of life.

But it was a dark time for me, I got through it, I was able to not fall back into it like a lot of people do. Fortunately I have good support from my friends. God blessed us with talents that I was unaware of until later on in life. It was a bad time but I made some good out of it. Unfortunately I lost some friends along the way. I always try to give a prayer out for those cats that I lost when I was in that life, even when I got out and they didn't come out with me.

 

Really nothing you can do but send prayers out to the family and give them your support. I can't take it back, I wouldn't even if I could. I wouldn't suggest anyone try to live that life, don't seek it out. People fall into because of where they live. Some people are pressured into it, some people choose it. If you have a choice, don't f**king choose it.

 

You have a choice regardless, you can walk away from that s**t. It's harder to walk away from it when you live dead in the f**king hood and these guys are f**king with you every day when you're coming home from school or just coming outside. It's a hard life, you lose a lot of your friends and you lose a lot of yourself, I don't suggest that to nobody.

B-Real official website: http://www.brealonline.com 
B-Real on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/brealonline  

B-Real on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brealofcypresshill
Official Cypress Hill website: http://www.cypresshillonline.com

 

 


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