I was “today years old” when I learned that rap legends Cypress Hill had made a dubstep album. You think you know everything about one of your favorite artists, then in a heartbeat you realize just how wrong you were. Not only had I never heard of “Cypress X Rusko,” I had never even heard of Rusko period. I imagine that our European readers (and writers) are shaking their collective fists at me right now for that ignorance. I hear you and I’m getting educated as part of this review, which is my opportunity to share that knowledge with the rest of our audience too.
Rusko’s real name is Christopher William Mercer. He’s a native of York (in North Yorkshire), England and graduated from the Leeds Conservatoire with a degree in music, so from the biographical facts alone I can see music has been a lifelong passion. He released his first major album in collaboration with Caspa in 2007, and over the last two decades has produced a steady stream of singles, extended plays and remixes. He’s also a cancer survivor, having successfully battled gastric lymphoma into remission in 2017, returning to touring and performing in 2018. The fact he kept working even going through that takes a strength I can’t begin to imagine.
Now given that this is a Cypress Hill release as well as a Rusko project, you won’t be surprised to know “Cypress X Rusko” has plenty of references to getting high as fuck. If you heard one single from this album (I’m genuinely stupefied that I hadn’t) it’s probably “Roll It, Light It.” I imagine if I was a club/nightlife kind of person as opposed to being a borderline introvert, I would have come across tracks like that one or “Shots Go Off” at least once. All of the hallmarks of dubstep are here — the heavy bass, the grimy synths, the feeling that lights should be blinking around you while a DJ exhorts people to get even more hype. The “Shots” in this case might as well be tequila, and I think that’s why collaborating with Cypress Hill works.
On the surface it might not have seemed like a match made in heaven. Latino legends from Cali collaborating with a white boy from Leeds? But if you like to party, if you like to get “Medicated,” it hardly matters where you come from. Economics and ethnicity may be different, but some things can be true no matter where you come from. B-Real: “We keep it moving, never gonna stop doing the shit we doing.” Leeds likes to smoke and so does the Hill that’s real, so roll one and blaze one if you want to, no matter what your background is.
Now is “Cypress X Rusko” an undiscovered (for me anyway) lyrical and musical masterpiece? No. It’s a perfectly fine extended play though. At this point B-Real, Sen Dog and DJ Muggs were already 20+ years deep into their musical careers. A collaboration with Rusko certainly injected some fresh blood into the mix, but it also didn’t cause them to reinvent the wheel. Their debut album set a bar which even they have had trouble living up to over the years, so an average Cypress Hill project is still pretty damn good even if it’s not legendary. My biggest knock on this one is that it sounds good enough to have been more than 16 minutes. I wish both sides had taken the time to knock out a full album of marijuana infused dubstep rap. It’s been over a decade since “Cypress X Rusko” came out so it’s time to revisit the concept.