Review Summary: Pot robs you of your ambition - but not if your ambition is to get stoned all day
Cypress Hill have remained one of the most enduring forces in the world of hip hop, mainly as a result of their willingness to accept and follow current popular trends. While this propensity for change has allowed their music to be heard by the few that would've never bothered with them otherwise, the flip side to their more recent commercial leanings is that their more long in the tooth fans have long packed their bags and left for more sunnier climes. While their self titled and 94's effort Black Sunday
cemented their place in the halls of fame, and both Temples Of Boom
continued the good times, albeit to a lesser degree, it was 2000's Skull & Bones
that saw the stoned foursome succumb to that colossal and all consuming of musical ideas: nu metal. While the more guitar oriented tracks were relegated to a second disc that, luckily, could be completely avoided, the relative success it bought them was enough to see them delve further into the treasure trove that was spiky highlights and baggy jeans. 2001's Stoned Raiders
saw Cypress almost splitting the album straight down the middle with its rap rock insipidness, and as a result their fan base decided to split in a similar fashion. And while 2004's Til Death Do Us Part
wasn't the return to form that we were all hoping for, it was still a step in the right direction. Misfiring on a much smaller scale than any other of their other new millennium joints it reawakened the old cravings in the more loyal of their followers, like a solitary flame flickering amidst the haze of bong smoke. Sadly it would be another 6 years before the Hill would follow up on the potential. And what's even more sad is that the nu metal itch is still with them, amongst other things.
Freshly signed with Snoop Dogg's Priority Records has allowed the group more artistic freedom, however it seems that a little more tightening around the edges would've been the better course of action. Also Muggs' distinct lack of input is another sore point of contention. Fresh off wonderful and varied stylistic implementations with his acclaimed Vs. series only served as a further sign that nothing but good would be coming from the Cypress camp circa 2010. Instead what we're treated too winds up to nothing more than Stoned Raiders
part 2. Now I'm more than happy for a band to throw around different stylings, but what Rise Up
ends up amounting too is an uneven mess, unsure of what it wants to be and where it wants to go. Rap rock one minute, Latin heritage throwbacks the next, a blatant dance pop track thrown in for good measure that aims for the stars but falls a few hundred miles short; Cypress have literally taken the proverbial mixed bag and gone for broke. And while it does show the group not wanting to be tied down by the conventions of hip hop, it makes the album come across as nothing more than a heavily scattered effort.
The lyrics, while up to the usual standard of the Hill, are really nothing to write home about. In fact, this is an album we've heard many times before, with its tendency to fall back on tried and true pot loving anthems to see them fulfill the required 45-60 minute length needed to justify their long absence. It's all just becoming a little too cliched, and what makes it worse is that they're even spelling it out for us: see 'K.U.S.H.' for some alphabetical chronic infatuation. There are highlights however, short lived but standouts none the less. Tom Morello's guest appearance on the title track holds a fair bit of weight, with the chorus riff harking back to the glory days of RATM. For the five minutes or so that the song holds your attention it dares you to play it loud. Ditto 'I Unlimited', somewhat of a guilty pleasure with its head nodding and foot stomping approach; again its another song that manages to stand out from the pack, sadly that's not that much of a feat when the rest of what's on offer has obviously taken one too many hits from the Hill's mascot, a certain mary jane.
is not the album you want it to be, and it simply doesn't even try to be. Dropping everything that made Til Death Do Us Part
so glorious in comparison, Cypress' latest joint hits you with no ambition and a huge lack of focus and direction. If you're looking for standard Cypress Hill fare then you've come to the right place, but considering just how long these boys have been riding the ganja trail its surprising that this album didn't rise higher than it would've liked to.