Cypress Hill's B-Real and Sen Dog Talk Weed, Rap, Punk, Gang Life, and Being Cuban
|Cypress Hill's Sen Dog, B-Real, and Eric Bobo.|
Obviously, he and his South Gate homies -- Sen Dog, DJ Muggs, and Eric Bobo -- are legendary weed connoisseurs. They're also the original-gangsta kings of hyperviolent stoner-trap rap. And their rhymes have been soaked in the blood of Los Angeles since the 1980s.
But you might not know that these Westside locos are Cuban. While B-Real's mom and her family are from the island, Sen Dog was actually born in Pinar Del Rio. And before Senen Reyes ever stepped foot in L.A., he lived in Miami.
-Cypress Hill and Action Bronson Coming to "Get You High" at Grand Central Miami
-Cypress Hill's B Real: "Guys Who Smoke Weed Can Relate to Obama, I Support Him"
"In Cuba, my dad was a high school teacher," Sen Dog says. "The government wanted him to teach communism and Stalinism. He told them to fuck off, so they fired him and put him in the pen for a few years.
"One day, they released him and told him to get the fuck out. We left Cuba when I was eight years old, and we lived in Miami at this refugee apartment called Casa Libertad. It was an old hotel that had been done up to house temporary Cuban refugees, and we were there for, like, three months. The majority of my family is still in Cuba to this day. They were scared to try and leave and get mass murdered."
Sen's parents didn't want to "be around a bunch of Cubans," so they moved to California's South Gate neighborhood. He and his brother Melo Man Ace got into breakdancing, hip-hop, and smoking out with their homeboy Louis Freese, AKA B-Real.
Those early days were spent sneaking into downtown clubs like Alcohol Salad and The Radiotron to take turns rocking the mike. "I wasn't old enough to be there," remembers Real, "but Tony G was the DJ running shit back then, and we were friends with him and Julio G. He let us come in and kick rhymes every now and then, but I'd always choke.
"Sen and his brother would go and smash their verses. But I could never bust my rhymes and I wasn't great at freestyling. It was a cool time, man. That movement was kind of the early beginnings of what shaped hip-hop in L.A."
The street life surrounding the fun of club nights was truly dangerous, though. "I was involved in gangs for a good long time in my youth," Real says. "And one particular night, I was with some homies that I used to bang with. We were walkin' down the street to go get some weed, and we were on a thin line between Blood and Crip neighborhoods.
"We had left the strap at the house for some reason. These Crips rolled up and we said our proverbial fuck yous to each other. They started lettin' off shots, and one ricocheted off a wall, bounced through my back and hit my lung. I went to Killer King hospital [otherwise known as Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center], dealt with my injuries, and got out tryin' to be supergangster. That's the nature of it -- you get up, dust off, and get back to work."
The guys attended South Gate High School. "I had a couple of classes with Dave Lombardo from Slayer," Sen recalls. "He's Cuban too. My first live show ever was at South Gate High, seeing Slayer play at lunch. Dave would invite me to his shows. And from there, I started searching for more. Suicidal Tendencies were from across town in Venice, and they had that punk rocker cholo thing goin'. I was drawn in, like, 'Yeah, that's my shit.'"
And that's how hardcore punk and metal inspired the Hill to fearlessly mix genres, an artistic decision that led to a Sony deal and over 18 million in worldwide record sales. Instead of making the obvious jump into Latino rap, B-Real, Sen Dog, and crew teamed with Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth on the Judgment Night soundtrack, and struck a crossover goldmine.