Mental Hollow Points
with B-Real of Cypress Hill
11/20/07 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview
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
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
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
www.brealonline.com or my Myspace page and find it there,
At least four of the tracks have original beats, did Muggs
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Does the fact that you're Cuban or Mexican influence your
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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