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Album review: Cypress Hill's 'Rise Up'

April 20, 2010 |  6:16 pm

Cypresshill Long before the days of Fred Durst, Cypress Hill was at the forefront of rap-rock fusion. Its Sonic Youth collaboration, “I Love You Mary Jane,” on 1993’s “Judgment Night” soundtrack, was one of the highlights of a much-maligned record that saw alternative rock’s biggest names collaborate with their hip-hop brethren.

Yet as the South Gate stoners have evolved throughout their 20-plus-year career, they’ve eschewed avant-garde guitar for a sludgy metallic thrash, even going so far as to perform “(Rock) Superstar” with the members of Velvet Revolver.

On “Rise Up,” Cypress Hill is up to the same tricks. For its Priority Records debut and first album in six years, the members of the group indulge their Sunset Strip side, recruiting Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine (“Rise Up,” “Shut 'Em Down,”), Daron Malakian of System of a Down (“Trouble Seeker”) and Everlast, who interpolates the Doors’ “Light My Fire” on “Take My Pain."

Meanwhile, on album finale “Armada Latina,” they detour through Laurel Canyon with Pitbull and Marc Anthony, sampling Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”

Lyrically, B-Real and Sen Dog are as fresh as old bong water, continuing their monomaniacal obsession with marijuana (song titles include “Light It Up,” “Pass the Dutch” and “K.U.S.H.”). Which wouldn’t be a problem if the production matched the murky occult tone of their first three classic records.

Unfortunately, the slick, overproduced headbanger music feels anachronistic and wouldn’t seem out of place on a Korn album. While Cypress Hill remains one of the greatest groups of all time, “Rise Up” mostly flops.

-- Jeff Weiss

Cypress Hill
"Rise Up”
Two stars out of four