I've been eagerly awaiting this record. The legendary Latin American Hip Hop group Cypress Hill have returned with their ninth album after an eight year absence. They were my first "favorite" group, as a young teen I became rather indulged and obsessed with their music. Binge listening and making copies of their records borrowed from the local library, I quickly came to know all their music very well and hold them in the highest regard. To this day I frequently return to their best records, Temples Of Boom being my favorite as the dark, spooky, mysterious Gangster Rap record with killer lyricism and timeless hooks. Going into this new record I had little in the way of expectations. It has been some time and anything can happen.
Elephants On Acid is a reasonable effort that does a fantastic job of establishing a distinct vibe and maintaining it. Cypress always had an exotic twist about them, using Latin lingo and inflections in the vocal department. At times their choice in sampling naturally leaned to Southern American and Eastern cultures, a niche characteristic. This record homes in on the latter with its sleepy esoteric atmospheres born of slower drum grooves, deep muddy baselines and the sprinkling of Eastern instruments to affirm an air of mysticism. In its second half the instrumentals start to brood in darker places. Locos, Insane OG, Warlord and Blood On My Hands Again unapologetically explore the creepier avenues of a dangerous vindictive world.
It is B Real who gives this record its merit. After eight years off the wax I had feared he may of aged but much like his live performances, he seems youthful and fully capable with a tight grip on the mic and his craft. Hes rocking the same nasal style, delivering lean raps with a weight of rhyme and wit that reminds me again how criminally over looked he is in the Hip Hop community. We may not hear his best here but he capably drops in plenty of steady flows, smart rhymes and one cracking line referencing Silence Of The Lambs. At his side Sen Dog seems unfortunately absent for many of the tracks, he is one to elevates the music with his unique chiming in. Even with a just small and simple roll he seems missed.
As discussed this record achieves a vision but unfortunately its a rather tame one even if distinct. The pacing is sluggish. Half baked instrumentals serve as brief interludes making up a quarter of the tracks. The main beats themselves are often indulged, brooding on atmosphere and the drum grooves rarely land with much intensity. Its obvious Cypress were going for this tone but the records best song, by no stretch of imagination, is Locos. The beat lands, its banging, the atmosphere serves it well and B Real is backed up by a mean sounding Sen Dog who throws in his aggressive call outs that land like threats. It the traditional formula and it works better.
It doesn't feel like there is much more to be said beyond going into specifics. Deep into the record hides Crazy, a song clearly trying to recapture the Insane In The Brain spark. To be fair its a fun track but once again the drum break just doesn't land with any intensity or groove. As much as Ive enjoyed these songs I really don't see myself coming back to the project to often. I commend Cypress for attempting to do something outside the scope of what you expect from a Hip Hop record. Its certainly nice to hear consistency and vision but if it doesn't bang its got to get something else right and I'm not sure what that's supposed to be on Elephants On Acid.
Favorite Track: Locos