Perhaps what is most surprising about influential Latino Hip-Hop troupe Cypress Hill is not simply their continual longevity, as they now produce music in an era where the primal, drug-laden aggression that belies the earlier work of their now legendary catalogue is no longer the norm, but rather, their ability to transcend associative relationships with any one demographic. They’ve always managed to appeal to a broad swath that encompasses the casual, white suburban stoner crowd, and the rebellious ethnic Latino they tend to harken to in their fiercely combative soundscapes. The breadth of Cypress Hill’s appeal was vividly manifested in the audience on hand to see their first headlining performance in Miami in quite some time. It looked as though the white suburbia of Broward and Palm Beach counties had spilled onto the streets of Miami and was complemented by the hipster as well as the old school hip-hop aficionado sets. Regardless of whatever stark disparities may or may not have existed between the individuals in attendance, one thing was flagrantly certain; that the vast expanses of Downtown Miami’s Grand Central would be billowing with the pungent aroma of the finest dank to be had in the tri-county area, and that the performers could be counted on to fuel this lurid odyssey of the mind on marijuana.
Miami-based Hip-Hop act ¡Mayday! repped their label, Tech N9ne’s Strange Music, and provided the opening salvo to the debauched evening, delivering an energetic brand of Hip-Hop drenched with heavy rock instrumentation that sets them apart from much of the local crop, especially when their sound plays such an effective foil to the lyrical dexterity of emcees Bernbiz and Wrekonize. Their markedly brief appearance on the stage was followed by an equally brief performance by supremely talented master chef-turned-emcee, Action Bronson, who is fresh off of his recent signing to Warner Bros. Records, in the wake of his acclaimed debut album Dr. Lecter.
Bronson, who is unrepentant in his voracious appetite for good food and good weed, both of which are frequently alluded to in his raps, triumphantly sparked the blunt which hung prominently from his mouth and began to rhyme and smoke with what can be aptly described as reckless abandon. He goaded the crowd, which seemed resolved in their stoned complacency, for their lack of enthusiasm and promptly incited a riotous frenzy when he produced a large bag containing even smaller baggies, each of which contained a sizable nug of weed and rolling papers, and started to throw them into the audience.He ingratiated himself with the already enamored audience by coming down from the stage, posing for photos with the fans, and spitting ferociously into the microphone as he tore through only a few of the gems in his already compelling repertoire, most notably his excellent track entitled “The Symbol.” Following Bronson’s exit from the stage, there followed a lull that spanned over half an hour wherein the stage was set up for Cypress Hill’s performance and at which point one could sense the closest thing to anticipation from the otherwise listless audience.
As soon as B-Real and Sen Dog took to the stage, accompanied by DJ Julio J and drummer Eric “Bobo” Correa, the roar of applause filled the venue. Sen Dog spoke fondly of his Cuban heritage and both emcees mirrored a sense unanimous enthusiasm to be headlining in a city whose Latino community was pivotal to their breakthrough nearly twenty years prior. They bounced ubiquitously across the stage as they ran through renditions of some of their classic cuts off their storied 1990’s cannon, including “Insane in the Membrane,” “Dr. Greenthumb,” “How I Can Just Kill a Man,” (famously covered by Rage Against the Machine), and “Hand on the Pump.” B-Real addressed the crowd with a question “How many of you motherfuckers are high right now?!” which was greeted with a roar of approbation. He then proceeded to smoke a blunt while dexterously exchanging verses in his distinctively high-pitched delivery with Sen Dog.
One noteworthy part of the performance came when the band produced a six foot tall bong called Excalibur, from which they asked their drummer, Eric Bobo, to take a massive rip. “This thing can rip your fucking face off!” proclaimed B-Real, at which point Bobo darted to his bongo drums and had a jam session with DJ Julio G, which culminated in a frenzied drum solo. It is really quite a marvel to reflect on just how many of these songs continue to the remain fresh in the collective consciousness of the hip-hop community, and more yet, how in spite of the fact that both emcees are now in their forties, they can still channel the same sense of youthful rebelliousness and vitality that was the hallmark of the work that made them famous to begin with.