Lessons from the music biz
Rock And Rules - Cypress Hill

Cypress Hill have sold over 18 million albums worldwide. Sen Dog has over twenty years experience in the rap game. Here’s his guide to keeping it real.

You need a lot of faith in yourself and a strong amount of self-belief to think you’ve got what it takes to entertain the masses. There was something in the air every time me, Muggs and B-Real would get together. It could be just hanging out and going to a ball game or just having a few beers and smoking some weed. I always felt when we were around that this was my crew and we’d be some bad-asses one day.

I got really nervous about being an internationally world-known MC. I was so worried about my lyrics that I’d be thinking about what people are going to say about my style. I was just a fucking nervous wreck about it man. I would write complete songs and never present them to B-Real because I’d finish them and then crumble them up and throw them away.

I was drawn into gangs before taking hip-hop seriously. I was hanging out with Blood Gang up in Los Angeles. I just thought, ‘What the hell am I doing here? We’re fighting over nothing.’ It was easy for me to step away but B-Real was in really deep. I was able to use my influence on B to just say leave that shit alone and try this instead. From the outside looking in it looks cool - the gangsters have cars and money, but the first time you get shot at you’ll know how cool that shit is.

I was distracted by money because I had too much of it. Like B-Real says in the chorus to ‘(Rock) Superstar’, five cars and all that shit - he’s singing about me basically. I didn’t have a red light when it came to spending. One day I got a call from my accountant and she told me that I had to write a cheque for my automobile insurance for the year and I was like, ‘Okay. I don’t know why you’re calling me about that, just write the cheque.’ She told me it was $38,000 for the insurance on all my shit and I was like, ‘Okay, wait a minute...’

The musical gods don’t just bestow fortune and fame on you so that you can be the only one to enjoy it. I’m proud to be able to have my parents depend on me. The group too, we’re a bunch of brothers. B-Real has treated me as more of a brother than my real brother has. Even one of our rodies, Kenji, he’s been with us since he was twenty-years-old and he’s thirty-eight now.

Dedicate yourself to your pursuits. What you’ve learned from being on the streets put it into your music. With Cypress Hill the things that we saw and the things that we did became the things we had the ability to write songs about. Get all the dumb shit out of your system and be a man, start being responsible and not so much of a fuck-up. Do something with the talents that God gave you.

Interview by Simon Butcher

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