Oddly, despite being pencilled in for some time to play the final night, Cypress Hill were not included in the official programme of events to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee über-weekend. Nor were they scheduled among the pomp ceremony and hula hooping festivities on the Mall, instead finding themselves in a decidedly damp Kentish Town.
One could be a little insulted. Still, as B Real, one half of the west coast rap troupe comments half way through tonight’s show – us Brits do know how to throw a party regardless of where it is. For those of us who are all bunted out and starting to sweat Pimms, some alternative, less wholesome entertainment could be a good way to see off the weekend. If we’re honest, Her Majesty is unlikely to fit the description of your average Cypress Hill fan. The intro to tonight’s show describes them as a unique combination of funk, beats with dedication to a certain plant.
Dedication would be the right word. If cannabis is ever legalised and becomes a marketable drug like tobacco, the new industry could do a lot worse than sign Cypress Hill up for the marketing campaign. You can’t beat their commitment over nearly twenty years to fully describe, endorse and promote the green stuff at every opportunity and in every track. Not only in their lyrics, Cypress Hill, as well as being the first Latino hip-hop superstars, are campaigners for legalisation as well as creating a chilled out laid back funky rap style that influenced many other west coast artists.
Tonight they kick things off with Get Em Up, Julio G on the decks while B Real and Sen Dog work the crowd. It’s a more frantic version than the recorded one, with the live percussion and extra beats from the turntables designed to liven up a crowd of mostly older fans and students amongst those others dodging the royal festivities. The same could be said of crowd pleaser How I Could Just Kill A Man – originally a pared down, raw old school style hip-hop track, tonight it gets rocketed up into a mosh pit inducing version.It comes as no surprise (but to the delight of most in the Forum) when B Real flaunts the smoking ban during tonight’s show by partaking in his favourite past time. As he smokes, they play some of their more obvious referenced tracks, Inhale, Exhale is woozy and more chilled out, K.U.S.H is funky, summertime California hip-hop while Hits From Da Bong is pretty much a blow by blow description of what you might be offered during a party in Cypress Hill’s house. They are playing to the devout here though and both tracks get the crowds arms in the air and the smirk on B-Real’s face shows us he’s still enjoying it after all these years.
Cypress Hill have been doing this for a while, so when they ask the crowd whether they are feeling ‘insane’ tonight, pretty much everyone knows what’s coming next. Insane In The Membrane is the one that all of their fair-weather fans are here for and as such provoke a frenzy down the front of the forum, that smoking ban clearly showing how less chilled the fans here tonight might have been.
There is also new material to plug, so after a high octane I Ain’t Going Out Like That complete with an emphasis on the Black Sabbath samples, they play four new songs from the collaboration with dubstep producer Rusko. All four are industrial, electronic and grimey, different from what Cypress Hill usually do and prompt several people to call it a night. If they had stayed they would have heard some much more interesting tracks from a band that can be pretty one dimensional.They end tonight with the heavy version of Rock Superstar, one of their more aggressive tracks and an excuse to get the crowd jumping again in true rap metal style.
Cypress Hill have often been close to being a parody of themselves. The constant drug references, need to provoke and casual violent references in their albums means they have often not been taken too seriously. But, when faced with a crowd who buy into their hip-hop niche, they have been in the game long enough to impress a room full of Brits, even at the end of a four day party.