Black Sunday – Cypress Hill (1993) – Chosen by SWC
I’m going to start with a nod to a mate of mine, Jon, or to give him his proper name Giovani (if you are anywhere near Hampstead, pop in to his hairdressers, its in the small arcade in the high street). He claims that ‘Hits From Bong’ is basically ‘Son of A Preacher Man’ by Dusty Springfield with rapping on it. I’ve just listened to it and twenty years later, I realised he is right. Although that’s a good thing, a very good thing.
As a kid, with the obvious exception of Public Enemy I didn’t really do rap music. That was until at college I developed a crush of a girl who I shall call Vicky, as that is her name. One night in a pub, she was talking to me about going to see Cypress Hill in Brixton in a few weeks – I immediately in a desperate attempt to be cool and keen said I was too, I hadn’t given it two thoughts until about seven minutes before that. Then I spent the next two days blackmailing my mate John (different one) to go with me.
Man it was, erm, ‘foggy’ that night. I’m talking inside Brixton Academy, outside it was beautiful.. For the second time in about eighteen months I’d been blown away by a rap group – they rapped when they stage dived, they rapped in silly cartoon voices, the brought out massive smoke machines that pumped the air full of burning weed. The sat in massive fuck off armchairs on stage and they were amazing. I left that show on the arm of Vicky (short lived, a story for another time, probably number 26 or so in this rundown) but a convert to hip hop and I’ve never looked back – that is why this record is so important.
In fact I would say that ‘Black Sunday’ is one the greatest rap albums of all time.
Listen to this song. It’s incredible – from the cartoon bounce that hops along in the background and that horse-y effect that runs through it. The way that B Real shouts out the title and Sen Dog shouts it’s back at him. Amazing interplay that is rarely seen on other records.
But its not just about the rapping – there’s the ‘bass’ as well
The bassline to this is luscious, it doesn’t just vibrate, it crackles, at first it sounds a bit sinister but the breakbeat kicks in at just the right moment and Cypress Hill go a bit opera on us. It’s stunning.
Every now again I’ll stick on a rap album at home – usually when I am on my own and feeling peckish, hip hop is great to make sandwiches to – honestly, try it, I mean it didn’t involve to mean that but it just is. Anyway, an album will be on and suddenly you will hear the influence of ‘Black Sunday’ running through quite a few of the seminal hip hop albums of the last twenty years.
You can hear it in Wu Tang Clan records, in Outkast records, in fact you can hear it ‘Maxinquaye’ by Tricky. If it wasn’t for Cypress Hill opening the doors the way they did – we wouldn’t have had the success of say Outkast and The Fugees. The formula was there tried and tested. ‘Black Sunday’ helped to make that all possible and that is why it still sounds incredible today.