Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
In the early ’90s, hard-edged Los Angeles-based hip-hop was hardly a new phenomenon, but there still had never been a group like Cypress Hill. The group, composed of rappers Louis “B-Real” Freese, Senen “Sen Dog” Reyes, and Lawrence “DJ Muggs” Muggergud, exploded on the scene in late summer of 1991 with a unique brand of dusted, blunted, and raw hip-hop that shaped the ways the music was made for years to come.
From a stylistic standpoint, Cypress Hill made a truly unique team. B-Real’s sharp high-pitched nasal rhyme flow contrasted perfectly with Sen Dog’s blunt, husky vocal tones. The pair went back and forth like a blazed Chuck D and Flavor Flav, trading rugged bars and ad-libs about the struggles of surviving on the streets of the Los Angeles. And getting high. Lots of getting high.
Before this album, few rappers talked so openly about enjoying the pleasures of marijuana. Practically half the Cypress Hill album was dedicated to it. But it never felt like a gimmick or novelty, as the group expressed their “need” to get stoned as a way to escape the harsh and dangerous realities of their environment. Cypress Hill is also one of the first album to prominently feature rappers rhyming in Spanish and to champion Latino culture in Southern California.
From a production standpoint, DJ Muggs was a pioneer, using samples from soul, rock, jazz, and blues and layering them in palpable grit. His production style on this album influenced producers like RZA and Alchemist, the latter of which Muggs personally took under his wing when he was still a teenager.
With its anthems like “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” “Hand on the Pump,” and “Latin Lingo” to album cuts like “Pigs” and “Funky Cypress Hill Shit,” Cypress Hill made an indelible imprint on hip-hop with their self-titled debut. It still remains the perfect soundtrack to rolling around in your ride. Or, you know, sitting back in your domicile and getting stoned.