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:: Cypress Hill - Still Smokin’

When it comes right down to it, Cypress Hill is a testosterone-soaked band designed for male suburban teenagers, pumping them up with endless tales of macho gang violence far removed from their own experience of life. The gangsta tales have been cleverley linked to the Cheech and Chong factor that the group is best known for - Cypress Hill love their weed, and aren’t shy about expressing it. Given that weed is about as common in the burbs as in tha hood, it links the conventionally unconventional experience of getting stoned to the gang world Cypress glamorise.

This is basically a history of Cypress Hill as told through music videos. It covers the whole period of the band as a popular group, from their pretty basic first music video, “How I could just kill a man”, to 2004’s single “What’s your number”. Their first two albums, ‘Cypress Hill’ and ‘Black Sunday’ are particularly well represented, but there are also some clips from the lacklustre period when Sen Dog had left the band, then more clips from ‘Skull and Bones’ after his return, where he seems to get a bit more of a prominent role.

A lot of the videos are unremarkable, the Cypress boys rapping, putting on a tough guy act, and occasionally doing some semblance of dancing, intercut between various glorifications of ghetto life, gangstas, etc. One of the worst clips is ‘low rider’, a woeful glossy video about the bouncing cars that would fit right in with the trash on video hits. Somewhat unusually for rappers, their videos are not filled with scantily clad girls, but this isn’t exactly because Cypress Hill are preaching from a moral high ground. It is more because of the fact that their videos are like their songs - which tend to be more about violence than sex.

That aside, there are some good videos on offer here. “When the ship goes down” is a well-made mini-move about a mafia underling who decides he wants his own operation, “Trouble”, is an interesting clip that seems a commentary on the problems B Real and Sen Dog have had with each other in the past. “No Entiendes La Onda” is a Spanish version of “Kill a Man”, with the video being shot in Mexico City, in a similar style to the original video. Although the video itself isn’t all that great, and hearing one of their signature songs in Spanish is just plain odd, it is an interesting novelty.

The best clip, however, would have to be “Rock Superstar”. It is one of the best songs the group have created, dealing with the nature of about the music business, the price of fame and the realities of being a star. This song sounds very believable, and certainly a truer account of their recent lives than any tale of gangbanging would be. The video for Rock Superstar is outstanding, very slick and well made.

There are also some live clips from a live performance at the Fillmore in San Francisco back in 2000. There is an interesting moment before ‘Hits from the Bong’ at the Fillmore, when B Real choses a guy called Ryan from the audience to come up on stage to take a hit from ‘King Arthur’, their novelty oversized bong. The look on B Reals face as Ryan was prancing around on stage spoke volumes - aren’t they all getting a bit old for such juvenile pothead antics?

In addition to the music, also included on this DVD is ‘Want to be a rock superstar?’, which is a moderately interesting promo film from the time of the ‘Skull and Bones’ double album, with the Cypress crew talking about their history and the music business, etc. As usual with film studio or record company propaganda, the interesting questions or issues aren’t asked or aren’t properly addressed, but there is some material of interest here.

All in all, this DVD is definitely worth a look for fans of Cypress Hill.

DVD Extras

Two new music videos never before available on DVD
Half-hour TV Special