In 1988, DJ Muggs, B-Real, and brothers Senen (Sen Dog) and Ulpiano Reyes (Mellow Man Ace) formed a hip-hop group known as DVX. When Ulpiano left the group shortly after its formation, they changed their name to Cypress Hill. In 1994, they would go on to galvanize their sound with the official addition of percussionist, Eric Bobo. The group would go on to be one of the most recognizable voices in hip-hop for the next 35 years.
Since forming, Cypress Hill has sold over 20 million albums, earned three Grammy nominations, and has continuously toured the globe. Cypress Hill has become a fixture in hip-hop’s cultural landscape. With rousing production, Latin flare, vicious lyrical content, and a devotion to cannabis, the group’s music has become a party playlist staple. Let’s look at five of their biggest hits that smoked out rooms around the world.
5. "Throw Your Set In the Air" (1995)
The lead single from Cypress Hill’s third album, Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom (1995) is a stone-cold classic. Mixing hardcore gangsta rap with horrorcore imagery and production, “Throw Your Set in the Air” is sharp, mean, and infectious. B-Real crushes the track on every verse, dominating the haunting keys and boom-bap beat with his sinewy vocals. The song was a hit, reaching number 45 on the US Billboard Top 100. It even stoked a bit of controversy. The group accused Ice Cube of ripping off the hook of “Throw Your Set in the Air” for his song “Friday.” The accusation sparked a feud between the group and Cube, resulting in a handful of (immediately good) diss tracks.
4. "(Rock) Superstar" feat. Chino Moreno & Everlast (2000)
Cypress Hill has always had crossover appeal when it comes to fans of rap and metal (it’s probably the weed). However, the group really dove into the rock deep with their fifth album Skull & Bones (2000). The album featured contributions from members of Fear Factory, Deftones, and RATM, as well as rap luminaries Eminem and N.O.R.E. The overall result was a mixed bag, but it produced the instant headbanger, “(Rock) Superstar.” The track was a hit among fans and casual listeners. It was even featured in the films Training Day and Little Nicky (but we can forgive the latter).
3. "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That" (1993)
Black Sunday, the sophomore album from Cypress Hill, is an all-time classic that spawned several massive hits. One such hit was the horrorcore, streetwise track “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That.” With a bouncing bass groove and a Black Sabbath sample, the song became an earworm. The titular refrain of the song is a rap-along moment in any live Cypress Hill performance.
Like most of Black Sunday, “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That” features haunting production and sharp rhymes. However, it is the only track on the album produced by producer and engineer Todd Ray. Better known as T-Ray, he has produced in both the worlds of rock and rap since the ‘80s.
2. "How I Could Just Kill a Man" (1991)
Talk about coming out the gates with some heat. Cypress Hill’s debut single “How I Could Just Kill a Man” was a revelation when it dropped in 1991. Incorporating Latin beats, gangsta rap lyrics, and a matter-of-fact hook, the song would go on to have quite the legacy.
The song was featured in Ernest R. Dickerson’s 1992 film Juice. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the official soundtrack release. However, the Cypress Hill track “Shoot ‘Em Up” did. Decades later, rap/rock legends Rage Against the Machine would release a cover of “How I Could Kill a Man” on their final album Renegades. The cover breathed new life into the song and climbed the charts for the second time. Once a banger, always a banger.
1. "Insane In the Brain" (1993)
C’mon, everyone knew this was going to be number one. How could it not be? Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual listener, “Insane in the Brain” is a song that everyone knows and loves. Sure, listeners have probably heard it more times than they can count, but there’s good reason for that. It has become part of the cultural zeitgeist in a way no other Cypress Hill has ever.
“Insane in the Brain” reached number 19 on Billboard’s Hot 100 back in 1993. The track helped propel Cypress Hill’s second album Black Sunday to becoming a Triple platinum album, selling over 3.4 million units in the US. “Insane in the Brain” is Cypress Hill’s biggest song, no matter how you cut it.