Filed under: Album Reviews
Although I am not a massive fan of latin rap, there are still of course a few groups that it is impossible to front on. Undoubtedly, hip hop’s most famous latin rap outfit are the creators of such killer cuts as ‘How I Could Just Kill A Man’ and ‘Insane In The Brain’: Cypress Hill. The albums from which these joints came managed the dual success of commercial viability as well as underground credibility, no mean fit in a genre which so often substitutes one for the other. Although ‘Temples Of Boom’ may not have managed the same achievement to quite the extent of their previous two releases, it is still a quality example of weed-induced stoner rap and features some of the best tracks that the group have ever made.
The cover art alone hints at a change in style from both their self-titled debut and ‘Black Sunday’. A solitary monk walks a long, stone staircase towards a temple that looks like it could have been a propsective location for an Indiana Jones film, and this dark and moody monochrome image is reflected in the sound created by the group over the course of the album. Cypress Hill have little intention of covering up their heavily blunted image, with ‘Spark Another Owl’ featuring a list of the various strains avaliable of every weed smoker’s favourite sticky green substance. This album opener sees the group emerge from a cloudy haze of smoke to deliver a seriously head noddy track that I rate as one of the highlights on the album.
The other choice selections for me include ‘Illusions’ and ‘Boom Biddy Bye Bye’, both of which are variations on the same heavily stoned theme. I once remember seeing an interview in which B-Real stated that the crew did not want to be known simply as the go-to guys for every discerning pothead, but this assertion seems slightly short-sighted given their consistent and positive representation of marijuana consumption. Unsurprisingly, this release is best enjoyed late at night with spliff firmly in hand, the beats perfectly complementing an exceptionally chilled vibe (although the evil weed needn’t be a prerequisite for enjoying the album).
In my opinion, the album is marred by a lack of consistency, and beyond the aforementioned tracks and ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’, I do not feel that this is a particularly strong work. Even though they might try and argue to the contrary, Cypress Hill are at their best on ‘Temples Of Boom’ when sticking to what they so obviously know best: the creation of beats that are intrinsically linked to ‘high times’. Sit back, grab your nickelbag and lose yourself in the weed-induced highlights of one of hip hop’s most successful crews.
In my continuing series of equipment that is essential to hip hop, I’m sticking with the ones and twos today. The Shure M44-7s are to the cartridge world what the Technics are to the ever expanding range of turntables available in today’s market: an industry standard. Given their endorsement by the Piklz, there is little doubt about the quality of these needles; if they can handle the punishment that Q-Bert must give them then you know they must be all that. I love the industrial, no frills look of these cartridges in the same way that I appreciate the simple yet classic design of the 1200/1210s: they are there to do a job and they do so better than any other piece of equipment available on the market. If you watch any DMC competition it is almost guaranteed that 50% of the competitiors have got these running through the grooves of their battle wax, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them skip in competition (I’m happy to be proven wrong). Of course, there are other cartridges out there that would in truth perform as effectively, but there seems to me an essence to the M44-7s that is distinctly hip hop.
More to come in the equipment series very soon: hope you’re feelin’ it.