Cypress Hill were notable for being the first Latino hip-hop superstars. They pioneered a new, stoned funk that became extraordinary influential in ’90s hip-hop. DJ Muggs crafted the sound, and B Real, with his pinched, nasal voice, was responsible for the rhetoric that made them famous.
DVX, the original incarnation of Cypress Hill, formed in 1986 when Cuban-born brothers Sen Dog and Mellow Man Ace hooked up with fellow Los Angeles residents Muggs and B Real. The group began pioneering a fusion of Latin and hip-hop slang, developing their own style by the time Mellow Man Ace left the group in 1988. Renaming themselves Cypress Hill after a local street, the group continued to perform around L.A., eventually signing with Ruffhouse/Columbia in 1991.
With its stoned beats, B Real’s exaggerated nasal whine, and cartoonish violence, the group’s eponymous debut became a sensation in early 1992. The singles “How I Could Just Kill a Man” and “The Phuncky Feel One” became underground hits, and the group’s public pro-marijuana stance earned them many fans among the alternative rock community. Cypress Hill followed the album with Black Sunday in the summer of 1993 and it became a hit, entering the album charts at number one and spawning the crossover hit “Insane in the Brain.
In 1997, the group released the double-disc set Skull & Bones, which featured a disc of hip-hop and a disc of their more rock-inspired material. Appropriately, the album also included rock and rap versions of the single “Superstar,” bringing Cypress Hill’s quest for credibility and crossover hits full circle.