Hip-Hop’s connection to the black and Latin community has been documented since its birth. Those who are familiar with the history of hip-hop are well aware that Latinos and Latinas have played a huge part in help shaping the music and culture. Artists such as Frost (FKA Kid Frost), Mellow Man Ace, Prince Markie Dee and many others were some of the early pioneers to the culture.
But one act that has played a pivotal role as contributors to hip-hop is Cypress Hill. The California-based trio is one of the most accomplished, yet unsung rap groups to have ever captured fans’ attention. Big Pun is often credited with bringing Latin flavor to the forefront and commanding the respect of his peers with his lyrical skills, but Cypress Hill were the original pioneers of bridging the gap between Latin rappers and the mainstream.
Originally comprised of B-Real, Sen Dog, DJ Muggs and Mellow Man Ace, Cypress Hill was originally named DVX (Devastating Vocal Excellence), but would make the switch to Cypress Hill after Mellow Man Ace abruptly left the group to pursue a solo career. A demo the quartet recorded in 1989 piqued the interest of Columbia Records, who inked the group to a record deal, leading to the release of their self-tilted debut album, in 1991. That album, which would arrive during a year of transition for hip-hop, would ultimately go down as one of the greatest rap albums of all-time and introduce Cypress Hill to an untapped market.
Their self-titled debut LP, which arrived on August 13, 1991, kicks off with the opening salvo, “Pigs,” a scathing track that details the crooked ways of corrupt police officers and is on trend with hip-hop’s increased attention to the relationship between law enforcement and the residents of the neighborhoods they patrol. Rapping “This pig harassed the whole neighborhood / Well this pig worked at the station / This pig he killed my Homeboy / So the f—in’ pig went on a vacation,” B-Real, Cypress Hills’ defacto frontman, paints an unsavory picture of those who are sworn to protect that pulls no punches.