October 5, 2008

Cypress Hill - III: Temples Of Boom (October 31, 1995)



Although Cypress Hill had already tasted a bit of success with their debut disc, conveniently entitled Cypress Hill, it was Black Sunday that brought them an entirely new level of attention. Their track "Insane In The Brain" opened the field of B-Real and Sen Dog's drug-induced and oft-violent rhymes, and the blunted production work of DJ Muggs, up to the masses, creating a mosh pit anthem for the ages, one that still gets people excited whenever it plays on the radio or in the club.

Cypress Hill's third album, III: Temples Of Boom (which was probably not influenced by the second Indiana Jones flick), was released on Halloween in 1995, and probably provided the soundtrack for many a person who sat at home handing out candy to children. Black Sunday was already a pretty dark album, when you look back on it, but their third effort made Black Sunday sound like a day at fucking Disney World. Muggs twisted his beats into his bleakest images yet, and B-Real and Sen Dog (okay, mostly B-Real) followed suit, and although it's not like their subject matter changed at all (read: they still like to smoke), III: Temples Of Boom still happens to contain some of the best songs the crew would ever record.

III: Temples Of Boom would up selling over one million copies, proving that there was, in fact, still an audience out there that supported acts where only one member of the group was actually maturing as an artist. It's no surprise that DJ Muggs went on to create his first Soul Assassins album after this disc, expanding his horizons by working with a much wider variety of artists. However, it's not like B-Real and Sen Dog sat around twiddling their thumbs, although that may have been an incredibly spiritual experience for them: instead, B-Real linked up with some of his other friends and released an album as the group Psycho Realm, although he had to immediately leave that group because of his day job, and Sen Dog apparently created a punk group called SX-10, although to be honest, I don't believe I've ever heard any of their work.

Neither one of the last couple of sentences have anything to do with III: Temples Of Boom, though. I just felt like actually writing a bit today.

1. SPARK ANOTHER OWL
What could have been a useless rap album intro morphs into an actual song, which automatically makes III: Temples Of Boom seem like a better album than some of these other rap discs out there. Of course, it helps that the song relaxes you and encourages listeners to get as stoned as fucking possible.

2. THROW YOUR SET IN THE AIR
I didn't like this song upon its initial release, but back in 1995, I wouldn't have been able to tell you why. Today, I can: it comes off as a paint-by-numbers Cypress Hill track, specifically engineered to appease the fans that mosh to "Insane In The Brain" but are blissfully unaware of the rest of the Hill's catalog. It's certainly not the worst song they've ever recorded, but there isn't a whole lot of substance here.

3. STONED RAIDERS
I always thought this song was a nice change of pace for Cypress Hill. The Muggs production is relaxing and ethereal (save for the drums, of course), and while the rhymes may be inane (B-Real will never be up for consideration when the best emcees in the game receive their gold watches after retirement), they're not the true focal point anyway.

4. ILLUSIONS
My favorite track on here, by far. When it was released to radio I felt it was kind of ruined, but in its purest form, with the long-ass intro attached, you are thrown into a drugged state of mind. This is possibly the only Cypress cut that has successfully accomplished that feat: for that alone, DJ Muggs deserves a goddamn medal. A remix of this song, produced by A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip, appeared on the 12-inch and CD single to "Illusions", but that version comes nowhere close to the original.

5. KILLA HILL N----S (FEAT THE RZA & U-GOD)
Surprise! I'm a well-documented Wu-Tang stan, and I never liked this song. The effect of having the dude talk all over B-Real's chorus is frustrating, to say the least. Prince Rakeem's beat is blah at best, and worst of all, fucking U-God's on here. (I suppose Rza was unable to shake him at the light.) A major disappointment. I mean, seriously, Cypress Hill seem to be advocates of marijuana use (at least, that's what I understand): where the hell is Method Man???

6. BOOM BIDDY BYE BYE
When compared to this song's remix, which featured labelmates the Fugees, this song is terrible. When you look at it as a standalone product, it's alright, but, once again, there isn't much substance to be found. I had a similar comment about Black Sunday: as a listener, I completely understand that, whenever he's stoned, B-Real likes to violently hurt people, but there's truly more to life, and certainly there's more to rhyme about.

7. NO REST FOR THE WICKED
The first salvo in the case of Cypress Hill v. Ice Cube, which was originally sparked by accusations of song ideas being stolen (specifically, B-Real accused Cube of stealing the concept of the then-unreleased "Throw Your Set In The Air" for his own "Friday", from the Friday soundtrack: now that I think about it, the two songs do share a similar chorus), but was eventually resolved. This song is okay, if only because I tend to like rap songs where the artists specifically call out other artists and talk random shit, but its real contribution to the cause was "King Of The Hill", the song that Cube and Mack 10 responded with on Westside Connection's Bow Down. Now that song is just awesome.

8. MAKE A MOVE
The Pulp Fiction sample runs a bit too long. This song kicked off the second side of the cassette tape version, which I still have somewhere, and to be honest, I could never actually get past this one song: I would listen to side A and then switch out to something else. (Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I had a similar issue with Black Sunday.) This track isn't actually that bad today, but even after listening to it, I can't recall specifics, other than the aforementioned Pulp Fiction lift.

9. KILLAFORNIA
The beat is really fucking good, but B-Real is not even close to being the right fit for the song. Perhaps Muggs should have kept this instrumental in his back pocket, to be used only in case of an emergency, or for one of his collaborative efforts with Gza/Genius, Sick Jacken, or Planet Asia, whichever came first.

10. FUNK FREAKERS
A dull-as-shit track is rendered even more frustrating, as B-Real's final verse fades out prior to the completion of the song. You don't have to be a longtime reader of the blog to know how much that irks me.

11. LOCOTES
Not entirely terrible, as the beat, though relatively simple, works, and the interaction between B-Real and Sen Dog is entertaining, but the track leaves you with an overall empty feeling inside.

12. RED LIGHT VISIONS
I honestly did not remember that the intro to "Illusions" kept popping up throughout the entire album. I thought this song was actually pretty good, although it truly is a godsend that it is incredibly short.

13. STRICTLY HIP HOP
Sadly, for a song with that particular title, this song is boring as shit. From the production down to B-Real's lazy delivery, the track is an overall failure. The only interesting part of the cut is found in one of Sen Dog's multiple meandering monologues, where he claims that "House Of Pain ain't down with us". I can't recall there ever being a beef. Any help, folks?

14. LET IT RAIN
This is actually pretty good. Whenever the Hill abandons their regular programming for some actual hip hop, the crew usually has favorable results. B-Real takes a shot at The Source for good measure, as well. The Muggs beat sounds like some vintage Cypress Hill shit, but sped up and taken to a completely new level.

The following is listed as a CD-only bonus track.
15. EVERYBODY MUST GET STONED
This slow, calm, relaxed, and hunger-inducing song (which shouldn't be surprising, given its title) is to be considered a bonus track for a valid reason: it's kind of really boring. For a song with a similar flavor but a better execution, you should hunt down "Roll It Up, Light It Up, Smoke It Up", Cypress Hill's contribution to the Friday soundtrack, pre-beef with O'Shea.

FINAL THOUGHTS: III: Temples Of Boom represents a progression of the sound that DJ Muggs has been cultivating since the debut disc, and more than a few of the beats on here remain among his best work. However, although some of these songs deserve their eternal place in the crew's catalog, most of III: Temples Of Boom is boring. Obviously, at this point in their career, Cypress Hill (or, more accurately, B-Real, since Sen Dog seems to hardly appear at all) felt that there was no need to switch things up lyrically, as they continue the themes presented on Cypress Hill and Black Sunday. Just like with Black Sunday, though, the first half is much better than the second, which makes for a frustrating listening experience.

BUY OR BURN? Burn this if you must. Cypress Hill has essentially mastered the art of having at least three tracks on each album that hip hop heads must find by any means necessary, but creating full albums is not their strong suit. Follow the guidelines below and be well.

BEST TRACKS: "Illusions"; "Stoned Raiders"; "Spark Another Owl"; "Let It Rain"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Read up on the other Cypress Hill posts here, and the DJ Muggs-related albums here.

28 comments:

  1. Mr AquariusOctober 06, 2008

    My feelings exactly. I've always felt Cypress Hill to be underrated, but as you said, their full albums don't hold together all the way through. This one is my fav of theirs personally. Great write up as usual. Keep em coming.

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  2. Illusions - best track and an awesome track...i love the long intro because it makes B reals vicious first 2 lines smack you round the head even more!

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  3. HoochieBitchWIttaPhatAzzOctober 06, 2008

    Max go eat a roaches cock you fucking crack whore! This album is worth the buy. Go suck some ant jizz you cross dressing ass clown.

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  4. Cypress's third effort is nice. The music is as usual, but mature. Dj Muggs's dark and a little bit of boring production...

    "Killa Hill niggas" & "Boom biddy bye bye" aren't that bad, Max. Also on "Everybody must get stoned" I like the rough bass and the piano keys, who sound like crystals.

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  5. Thank you Max! Personally, I love this album, consider it Cypress Hill's finest work, and it was my favourite before my Wu-Tang adventure started. Let It Rain, Stoned Raiders, No Rest For The Wicked, Make A Move and Strictly Hip Hop are my favourite tracks here, (Boom Biddy... with Fugees and Throw Your Hands In The Air are awesome for me too, but that doesn't count, since it didn't get on album - dunno why)and Illusions is fuckin good too, but I heard Q-Tip's remix first, and while Muggs' beat IS better, it's not enough sad for me to match the chorus(It's like Ghostface on Jah World). Now, when I think about it, not everything clicks on this album, and it isn't as good for me now like it was before, but I still love this album. And this cover recompensates EVERYTHING for me. It's just best cover I saw ever, and around 50% of climate on this album. Peace and keep reviews coming.

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  6. Man, your reviews are highly entertaining, but I got to hate you on this one. I got to leave a comment for the first time in 2 month that I read your blog with great pleasure. This is my all time favorite LP, and all the things you dislike are the reasons I love this ENTIRE LP: the fading at the end of Funk Freakas, the long Pulp Fiction intro, vato talking over B's chorus in "Killa Hill Ns".
    and WTF at "the intro to Illusions kept popping up throughout the entire album", it's interludes that all are different from each others.
    By the way the mixing of this album is a highlight, it's full of ideas like with the stereo effects and the doubles. Let's not forget the LP cover and artwork which complete the musical concept to great effects.
    Love your blog anyway...

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  7. There's an awesome Muggs remix for Illusions that uses a sample from an 80's soap opera.

    It was included on the CD single for 'Illusions.' THAT is something to track down.

    The House of Pain beef was from CH trying to rehab their rep after becoming MTV staples for two years.

    Kind of hard to have street cred when you have whiteboys stage diving in the 'Insane in the Brain' video.

    Or so went the thinking back then.

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  8. Yeah the HOP/CH beef was about street cred, and it was fueled by the eratic behaviour of the HOP dudes all coked up and drunk. At least that what I readed in interviews back in the days.
    It's clear that with the Wu-Tang feats and the vato gangsta talk that they wanted to redirect the crossover success toward street recognition...

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  9. Many StylezOctober 07, 2008

    Worst review ever. What a dip shit

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  10. This is the remix I was talking about.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56d-_YAU9z0

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  11. Although I mostly agree with your review here, Temples of Boom holds up for me since shortly after that they decided to start appealing specifically to alternative radio which they realized was a big audience for them. I listened to the Pearl Jams and whatnots of the day, but I didn't need to hear that in Cypress Hill's music. When I listened to hip hop, I wanted STRICTLY hip hop. (Except maybe for that song on the Judgement Night soundtrack where, ironically, Cypress Hill appears WITH Pearl Jam. Have you reviewed that album?)

    I'm hoping to hear another straight-up hip hop album from them in the future.

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  12. The review is pretty good, however I really like Locotes, Killafornia and Killa Hill Niggas. And even if B-Real is rather monodimensional as an MC, sometimes he finds different angles to trite topics, such as (in CYpress Hill IV) I remember that freak bitch... or tequila sunrise.
    Muggs chops up some of his best stuff, here.

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  13. The only interesting part of the cut is found in one of Sen Dog's multiple meandering monologues, where he claims that "House Of Pain ain't down with us"

    It isn't Sen Dog but Muggs on Strictly Hip Hop

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  14. Damn I don't fuckin understand Motherfuckers like you stupid Ass Bastard...why are you writing a fucking review to an LP if you can`t realy feel it...do you wanna make fun out of it or what is it...c'mon you ain't got no fuckin clue from dope ass Beats and Raps,you're a fuckin sucker motherfucker,"pulp fiction intro is to long" but that illusions intro is the best part of the whole fuckin album or what?you fuckin idiot,you wanna tell muggs how long his intro's should be?
    Method Man on Killa Hill would fuckin suck,The RZA and U-God fits perfectly just like Rakeems Beat,you just can't feel the fuckin Darkness and shit,you just trying to front on the Nigga cause you can't stand him cause you have a fuckin small dick complex son,you ain't shit and somebody should beat the crap out of you stupid wiseguy....stink ass hoe

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  15. i agree with the previous post.

    you pointed out some stupid arguments for not like some songs on this album. i think you should take a trip further back and throw on some classic Pink Floyd so you can see exactly where muggs got his inspiration to create this masterpiece.

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  16. AnonymousJune 29, 2009

    Ok cut to the chase about me being a cypress hill soldier from the early 90's an all that! But if you ask any Hill Fan Temple Of Boom is Muggs best work production wise and B-real's realest.

    I dig your writings and reviews but don't always agree with them, what's pleasing to our ears isn't always to yours. But I think there is a concensus here that this album has been underated on epic proportions...

    Cypress Hill fans know that 3 plus 2 =5 and a square has 4 sides whether stoned or not!

    Peace out

    Adil UK

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  17. Whole albums great, no need to review the songs...its still the darkest album from any successful Hip Hop act ever.

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  18. Beef between House of Pain was only because h.o.p. wanted to be more own their own, away from Muggs. And muggs took it personally, and thought they were ungrateful. That's why House of Pains third album had no Muggs production. The beef was squashed long ago.

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  19. Where the FUCK else have I heard the sample that's used on "Illusions"? I know I've heard it before, but I can't put my fucking finger on it. It's really irritating me. Max, or anyone else that knows, please post it on here. RZA comes to mind... but it's hard to tell... aaargh!!!@#%$ASdfhgafb

    -keeshawn

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  20. Never mind... I figured it out. It's Tres Leches.

    -keeshawn

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  21. AnonymousMay 03, 2011

    This is a real solid album with no missteps ( a very few like this one) and I'm starting to thing that the only reason I'm going to follow your blog is the funny comments and.. well, it's a great practice for my english since it isn't my native language.

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  22. I believe that no review can do this album justice. One has to listen to it from start to finish, look at that beautiful artwork & feel the strangeness. The whole thing is a piece of art, plus the most dark & fucked up piece of hip hop ever made. I still remember the morning I played this record for the first time. It had been a rainy month & guess what, it was the only thing I listened to for a whole week. cheers

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  23. Muggs should be up there with preme, Pete, RZA etc. B real reoccurring lyrical themes didn't bother me like that, it was cool. But muggs really shaped this album production wise. The laidback/dark moody backdrops/samples is so ill. I like the chill mood of this record, its classic.

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  24. Yo HipHopAintDead,
    My good Danish neighbor Jpee played this album twice for me one of our all night drinking and late night smoking after the bar music sessions. The first time, I thought OK, Cypress this is dope I can dig this shit from the Danish dude. Beats were good and lyrics on point. Nothing really stood out the first time around, but I respected it. The second time around, after much more drinking and smoking, I came to appreciate soo many things about the album, especially the length these like 25 dope ass tracks, which were so perfectly arranged I just never wanted the album to end and the morning to arrive. I love "Everybody must get stoned." The song just begs you to press the play button and restart the album again. This has to be one of my must have in the collection and in the car and late night hip hop album.
    Ps. I like to quote a past comment. "All the things you disliked about the album, are the things that I loved about the album."

    Holla Robhi Digital

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  25. OK, Max...

    Those dull-as-shit, really fucking boring, terrible when compared to the remix tracks? I highly fucking disagree.

    Two things:

    1. DJ Muggs' production sounded like it came from the fucking underworld. Which in '95, the year most of the dark, East Coast gritty NY albums came out, was something I absolutely loved about it, and still do for that matter. My opinion? His finest hour & the darkest major hip-hop album of '95 by far.

    2. If the music was from the underworld, then B-Real was Hades & Orochi's long-lost big brother here. Seriously, Freddy Kreuger has fucking nightmares about B-Real in this album. His writing & contribution are source of a big misconception regarding the Hill's venture here.

    See, it was actually B-Real's writing that pushed Muggs to go to such a dark direction in this album, not the other fucking way around. And don't get me started on his performance on the mic.

    Also, lack of Mef aside, I loved the Wu here. Seriously, the Golden Arms hate HERE was uncalled for.

    Although I do agree with your points regarding tracks 13 & 15.

    Oh and the Cube diss. I despise that song. and it's not cus I love Cube. I just hate fucking diss songs. unless they're dissing assholes like Cory Carter, Baby Bryan Williams, Johnny Combs or the original asshole, fucking Wendell Simmons. To which I say bring on the hate.

    Other than that,

    LOVE YOUR REVIEWS, dude.

    PS: I wanna be funny.

    Please.

    Help.

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    Replies
    1. To the anonymous above,

      Of course, you forgot a BIG asshole in the industry.

      Rommell Young. Fucker should've stuck to production.

      (See what I did there?)

      I totally agree, man. The Temples are not to be questioned.

      Maxy boy, you've BEEN crazy a long time ago. So, I don't even hold it against you.

      Yet, maybe within insanity lies genius….

      You DID put me on CZARFACE. That DEFINITELY counts for some fucking thing.

      Delete
    2. I'm glad we agree. More people need CZARFACE in their lives.

      Delete
  26. Dude - Loved this entire album. One you can easily listen to from front to back. Amazing production. Muggs carries it, B-Real doesn't have to do anything beyond supply the voice. If he accidentally drops a dope rhyme, that's icing on the cake. The whole vibe is just so great to turn your nose up at, which you're clearly doing. Try it again.

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