Review Summary: Spark Another Owl
Cypress Hill are a group whose style has always been slightly influenced by rock. This fascination started when the band playing on festivals with rock and punk bands, and since then the group has experimented with adding guitar riffs into beats and merging rock and hip hop together. The band first fully explored this on 2000’s double album Skull and Bones
, which featured both hip-hop orientated (Skull) and rock orientated (Bones) CDs. The Album was met with mixed reception which, whilst mainly positive, some felt that the rock CD seemed slightly tacked on and disjointed compared to the first disc.
is the follow up to Skull and Bones
, and sees the trio experimenting with rock influences again, but this time integrating it with the more traditional hip-hop tracks. The album is predominantly focused on the hip-hop side, but tracks such as “Trouble”, “Amplified” and “Catastrophe” are backed with guitars rather than a sample or bass heavy beat. This works well with the chosen tracks, as it helps to capture the mood of the lyrics. Whether the beats are rock related or standard, they are still all solidly created by DJ Muggs, who also did a great job on the production of the album; the low end is heavy and the guitars are handled well; sounding crisp and clear.
In terms of lyrical content; B-Real and Sen Dog are on top of their game on most of the tracks, covering a wide range of topics including the band’s history and troubles (“Kronologik”), coping with fame (“It Ain’t Easy”), and of course, weed (“L.I.F.E”), it wouldn’t be a Cypress Hill album otherwise! Although, the band has clearly matured over the years and expanded their subject range, which helps to add diversity to the tracks and give the album more flow. Vocally, B-Real’s delivery and flow is the more complex of the two rappers, with more rhymes and witty couplets, whereas Sen Dog’s style is more of a straight attack on the mic and usually more violent and lacking in rhymes or wordplay. Despite this the interplay between the two rappers works and is another aspect which helps to bring diversity to the tracks.
A number of tracks are also bolstered by guest appearances. The most noticeable of these is “Red, Meth and B” which as the titles suggests features appearances by Redman and Method Man. This is one of the standout tracks on the album. A fantastic bouncing beat backs incredibly solid verses by all three performers, however the hook of “We don’t give a fu
ck, we live it up ‘til the day we die. You try to deal with us, but you got no blunts to get high” is a little cheesy and beings the track down slightly, but does highlight the laid back personality of the band.
Despite this, Stoned Raiders
is a solid effort by Cypress Hill, and does not overstay it’s welcome with unnecessary skits or filler. All of the tracks are well executed and enjoyable with catchy lyrics and beats that will stay stuck in your head. The experimentation with rock has been refined since Skull And Bones
and works well, but is not a crutch which the group relies on, as they can perform traditional hip/hop just as competently.