When you think of musicians that brought cannabis into the mainstream, making it unavoidable in pop culture during the ‘90s, you don’t get much more notable than Cypress Hill. Dre and Snoop had The Chronic, Sublime had 40oz. To Freedom, and Cypress had Black Sunday, the 1993 opus that housed legendary blazing anthems such as “I Wanna Get High” and “Hits from the Bong.”
The South Gate, California group celebrated their 25th anniversary last year and are still going strong, performing regularly and working on new material (more on that later). B-Real and Sen Dog, the group’s two MCs, have also seen great success with their respective supergroups in recent years, the former joining members of Rage Against the Machine and Public Enemy in Prophets of Rage, and the latter forming Powerflo with members of Biohazard, Fear Factory and Downset. Despite being hip hop, Cypress Hill always had a hard rock vibe to them, and now its members are strengthening the connection between those genres.
This weekend, Cypress Hill is performing at the fourth annual Chalice Festival in Victorville, CA along with Ice Cube, STS9, Big Boi, and many more. Ahead of the festivities, they’re taking over the MERRY JANE Spotify playlist, filling it with other ‘90s favorites, their own classics, and a few new jams. We also caught up with Sen Dog for a bonus interview. Check that out below while listening to the exclusive playlist.
MERRY JANE: What is your most memorable smoking experience?
SEN DOG: Wow, I've got a lot of those, but I would say one night when I smoked out Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson at the Key Club in Hollywood in 2012. I had the brand new strain that B [Real] had come up with at the time, and it was pure fire. I couldn't smoke a joint of it to myself. So I saw Woody and he goes, 'Dude, blaze me out.' I go, 'Where?' He goes, 'Here!' So right there in the middle of the club we lit up, and security rushed to us to see what was going on, and they see me and I'm with those two guys, and I look at them and go, 'Dude, I got this.' And they go, 'Okay, Sen,' and they walked away.
If you were a boxer, what song would you come out to?
If you were going to go out guns blazing, what song would you choose to do it to?
My own, Powerflo - "Resistance."
Who is your guilty pleasure artist?
That would be this little-known artist by the name of Britney Spears. I tend to be a fan of her in general but her old stuff is what got me going, of course, but when she puts out new stuff I make sure I at least listen to it once. I think it has to do more with looking at her sometimes, you know what I mean?
Which song that you've released means the most to you?
Along with this whole Powerflo movement, and that whole album means a lot to me, one song that I could say really patted myself on the back to be a part of was when [Cypress Hill] did "(Rock) Superstar." I always felt like I would be good in that realm, and that song came out and blew up and I was like, 'Man, I knew it.' That's a very special song. I think it boosted our careers again and gave us longevity. And it's still very special to play that song live-- I gotta say, I always wish I was playing a semi-pro football game and I was out there hitting fools. That's how emotional that song gets me.
Who has been your favorite artist to work with? What is your dream collaboration?
We've had a lot of them, but I'd say Damian Marley. He's a Buddha Brother as well, so there's no shortage of greenery when we're working, and his lyrical ability, and his phrases, and just watching him get down is just so cool. He's a very inspirational cat, and just to know that you're sitting there working with one of Bob Marley's kids is fucking crazy.
And then I went to high school with a cat named Dave Lombardo [drummer for Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, The Misfits]. We always talk about working together but we've never gotten around to it, so one day I'd love to get in the studio and do something with him. I mean we grew up in the same place and we've both done remarkable things in music and every time we each other we give each other that look like, 'Haha, we did it, motherfuckers.'
So it seems like Powerflo's been your main focus recently. Tell me how that got started.
Powerflo was a concept I started working on in 2015 with my buddy [former Downset. guitarist] Rogelio Lozano, and first it was just going to be a solo project for me, but listening to the songs we recorded I thought, 'Man, I think I'm going to have to perform this with an actual band and not just a DJ.' That's when I started strategically thinking about cats we wanted to get down with in this project. Christian [Olde Wolbers, Fear Factory bassist] said yes, Fernando [Schaefer, drummer] said yes, and then Billy [Graziadei, Biohazard vocalist] came on as a producer at first, and then I guess he just became a fan of the movement and eventually jumped in. So we started calling ourselves Powerflo, which is a word someone used described my rap flow on our song "Resistance." Every time he said it, it made more sense to me, and I thought it was a cool-ass word. So I decided to take that rock style and call the band that, and then we just started going 100% on it. Now we're four shows in, our record is out, we head out on tour in a couple of days, I'm very proud of the guys. It's something we built from the dirt up, and now we're taking it national.
So you've been occupied with that, and B-Real's got Prophets of Rage going on, but I remember a couple of years ago you guys were talking about a new Cypress Hill album. Is that still on the table?
That album with Cypress is done and completed, and for the sake of being honest and forthright in interviews and whatnot, we have more than that completed. We have about two and a half albums of Cypress Hill material that's waiting to come out. I hope management doesn't get mad at me for saying that, but we've been quite busy in the studio with Cypress Hill the last two or three years here. When the time is right, we're gonna drop some heavy shit out there. I'm a fan of all the stuff we've created recently, and I can't wait for the world to hear it.
You’ve got Chalice Festival coming up this weekend. Have you been there before?
I've never played it. Maybe B has, but I have not. I did attend it last year, I went as a spectator, but I'm really looking forward to performing there. Every time you get a chance to perform for this cannabis culture of ours it's a kick in the ass, because it's so cool how much the culture has grown and broken all of these borders and barricades that were there to stop us. To look at it now, compared to where it was 15, 20 years ago... I always love thinking about that when I'm at a cannabis event.
Do you have any business ventures in the cannabis industry?
We have a company called Bang that we're now in the midst of announcing, hopefully in the fall we'll have some products out. That's for the band, and then for myself, I would like to try growing again. There have been Sen collaborations with growers, where they'll do a Sen Dog strain, but I can't help but feel that I've come up short on those. But I've learned a lot, met a lot of great growers, and I definitely want to make another effort of making a contribution to the cannabis movement and show them what me and my boys can grow. As a stoner, you definitely want to contribute to the movement and be a part of it.