For almost 20 years, Cypress Hill has been the Hip-Hop version of the Grateful Dead—and its frontman has made no attempts to hide his love affair with a certain herb that grows from the earth.
B-Real’s nasal tone was the voice behind weed-oriented classics like ‘How Could I Just Kill A Man,’ ‘Hand On The Pump,’ and of course; ‘Insane In The Brain.’
With a respectable track record under their belt, the Los Angeles native steps out on his own with his first official studio album, Smoke n Mirrors.
Even though New York indie powerhouse Duck Down Records is distributing it, the project still has the West Coast elements that have allowed B-Real to keep Hip-Hop as his only full time gig.
Containing production by Western Union’s Soopafly, Alchemist, and B-Real himself, the veteran MC gets things underway with ‘Children Of The Night.’
Equipped with a Kanye West/Heatmakerz-esque soul sample, the all too familiar vocals goes into social commentary mode, “What’s good in the ‘hood, can you tell me/hit me with the truth mothaf*ckas, don’t sell me/cause I can see a lot of things wrong with the city/and nobody’s tryin’ to fix nothin’/all of our choices are sh*tty.”
Alchemist gets behind the boards on ‘6 Minutes,’ as B-Real goes into a story about “flash in the pan” newcomers, and how they quickly fade into obscurity after T-Mobile doesn’t renew their ring tone deal. A major ganja meeting occurs on ‘Fire,’ as it features Reggae Royalty in Damien “Jr. Gong” Marley—and with those two on a record, the subject matter should be self-explanatory.
‘Dr. Hyphenstein’ comes with well-placed violin loops, while B-Real shows his MC prowess by riding the beat to perfection with his flow pattern. The West Coast All-Stars come out on ‘When We’re F*cking,’ as it features Too $hort and Kurupt. In between an uneventful hook, all three MC’s tell their tales of meeting women, and how they’re only in love with them while in the sack.
The rest of the project includes charitable contributions like, ‘Gangsta Muzik,’ ‘Don’t Ya Dare Laugh,’ ‘Everything You Want’ featuring Buckshot, and ‘One Life.’ While other songs like ‘Stackin’ Paper,’ Get That Dough,’ and ‘Ten Steps Behind’ should have been prepped a little bit more before they were donated.
B-Real’s Smoke n Mirrors might not be a timeless smash like the previous work he did with Cypress Hill, but for the followers of one of the most consistent person(s) in Hip-Hop, it’s still worth a listen, and good way to kick off Hip-Hop in ’09.