Cypress Hill's Sen Dog Says Black Sunday Is the Top Stoner Album

Want to feel old?

This Saturday, July 20, is the 20th anniversary of the release of Cypress Hill's Black Sunday. Opening at number one, it was the fastest selling rap album ever, at that point. When the album reaches the ripe old age of 20 years and one day old, Cypress Hill will be come Cruzan Amphitheatre with the 311 Unity Tour, accompanied by 311, G Love & Special Sauce, Pennywise, and Sublime With Rome.

Just today, Sen Dog spoke over the phone with the New Times. Quick to laugh and to tell a story, Sen Dog shared his childhood memories of Miami, Cypress Hill's growth over the years, and what it was like appearing on The Simpsons.

New Times: How's the tour going?

Sen Dog: It's going great. There's a lot of harmony within the three bands. We're excited to get on stage and bring all the Cypress energy and make a party out of it.

After leaving Cuba you lived in Miami at a young age.

When my parents were first exiled, we ended up in Miami. We lived there for six or seven months, and then my Dad was offered a job with Delta Airlines, but it was out in L.A, so we moved to California.

I still detect a Miami accent. Did the city shape you in other ways those six months?

I have a lot of great memories being eight years old. I remember being told to eat when I got to Miami and in Cuba it wasn't like that. Food wasn't there all the time, and I could recognize food was important so I turned into a little pudgeball. Of course, I remember going to South Beach as a youngster with my Mom and Dad and seeing how beautiful it was. I still have the image in my mind.

July 20, this Saturday is the 20 year anniversary of Cypress Hill's album Black Sunday. Are you guys doing anything to honor the anniversary?

I'm sure we'll have something up our sleeve to honor it. It would be great to commemorate that very special point in our career. Reaching number one in the world was very special to us. We'll come up with something to pay tribute to that.

What was it like being that big, having at that point, the fastest selling rap album ever?

I felt like I was part of a machine that was going, and I was just along for the ride. Every time we got a call from a manager, it was that we sold more records, and after you finish this tour you're going to Australia for another tour. This was what I always imagined it would be like when I was a kid watching my favorite bands on TV. The Cypress Hill machine took over and we got to see what it was like being rock stars. After that, I knew I never wanted to do anything but be in Cypress Hill.

You guys were so big you appeared on The Simpsons.

That was cool. It got us another fan base, the young nine, ten to thirteen year olds. One day, I was in the supermarket and this lady passed by me a couple times with her young son. Finally she comes up to me and says, "Excuse me sir, I hate to bother you, but could you tell my son you're not a Simpsons character." I told her, "I'd love to, but he's right." And kids like him are still fans of Cypress Hill today.

How has Cypress Hill grown in the last 20 years?

We've matured as men. We're not the wild young bucks we were before. We've got a real good handle on our craft and how we present it and how it sounds. We've become family, men with kids, most of all, we've become better business men. When we go on tour, people are like, "Oh, you're going to rage around the country". No, we're going to work. That approach is how Cypress has grown into a 23 year career we're still active in.

With that approach what can audiences expect at a Cypress Hill show?

We always try to come with something different from the last time you saw us. When you saw us last year with a catalog as deep as ours, it's a must that we find those jams that you didn't hear before. They're going to get an energetic and visual show, how it's going to go down is up to the band.

What are your plans after the tour?

Directly after the tour, I'm going on a motorcycle run and then we'll immediately start work on the new Cypress album which is in pre-production already. We're working with DJ Muggs (the producer of their first seven albums) on this record, and it's great to have him around again to have that chemistry to see what points we can reach with this record.

Can you tell us the name of the record or some of the track names?

We do have a name, but it is forbidden to give out and I don't want to get in trouble.

Is it forbidden to talk about the motorcycle ride?

(Laughs) This will be a Southwest run beginning out of Los Angeles to Palm Springs and then we have a party in New Mexico, eventually reaching Texas down to San Antonio and then back. It's one of the best things I ever did with my friends. It's our sixth year, and we're seeing the country in ways we always dreamed about seeing it. What could be funner than that?

Rolling Stone magazine, last month, listed the top 40 stoner albums and I was shocked Black Sunday was not on the list. Were you pissed?

Not really. I don't mean it in a disrespectful way, there are just songs on that album that are stoner anthems. I'm not going to say they got it wrong, but you ask any stoner where do you rank that album and a lot of them will put it at the top.

What would you put at the top of the stoner album list?

Black Sunday. From the music to the whole album artwork to the mentality we had in those days.

What would you put as number two and three?

Number two, I would put the first Cypress Hill album (the self-titled one) and right behind that, I'd put our third album Temple of Boom

Fair enough. I won't ask you who you think the world's sexiest man alive is then.

(Laughs) You all know the answer to that. His name's not Brad.

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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland