August 7, 2009

Cypress Hill - Unreleased & Revamped (EP) (August 13, 1996)

After releasing their third album, III: Temples Of Boom, in 1995, all three members of Cypress Hill (B-Real, Sen Dog, and DJ Muggs) focused on their own work before linking up three years later for the coincidentally titled IV. At least, that's what Wikipedia wants us to believe: the only one of the three that released an actual solo album was Muggs, who started his Soul Assassins series in 1997 (and my use of the word "solo" there is debatable). My belief is that Ruffhouse/Columbia, their record label, panicked at the idea of no new Cypress Hill material, and decided to release Unreleased & Revamped, an EP made up of mostly remixes and a couple of original compositions.

Unreleased & Revamped takes listeners into an alternate universe where Cypress Hill was more likely to work with outside artists like Erick Sermon, Redman, and the Fugees, which was a change of pace from their first three albums, where the only guests that ever appeared were The Rza and U-God (on a crappy Wu-Tang-sounding track). In this universe, B-Real plays nice with others, opening the doors for more collaborations with established artists on future Cypress Hill projects.

Also, Unreleased & Revamped sold over half a million copies, most of which were sold to junkies looking for a fix and mistaking this EP for a dime bag. Speaking of the Fugees, the concept of Unreleased & Revamped worked out so well for the label that they also decided to give us Bootleg Versions, another EP release filled with remixes, a few months later.

I've always thought this pairing was a goofy one, but this remix blows the original out of the fucking water. This song is the shit, in other words: Wyclef Jean commits to the dark realm in which B-Real resides with surprising conviction, and Lauryn Hill's ad-libs and cooing on the chorus is very pleasant. Oh, and Pras also makes an appearance.

Ostensibly a remix to "Throw Your Set In The Air", but there's also a more direct remix of that song set to this same beat, which I have somewhere in my boxes, but I can't remember if it was titled anything than a simple "remix". Erick Sermon's line about being "doper than the Pete Rock remixes" is pretty funny, if not exactly true, and potheads the world over have been waiting for Reggie Noble and B-Real to work together ever since Redman sampled Cypress Hill on his "Time 4 Sum Aksion". West Coast stalwart MC Eiht is the odd man out on here, but he still manages to sound decent.

I don't know much about Call O' Da Wild (except that the group also has a track on the first Soul Assassins album), but I do know that this is their song and not Cypress Hill's, so either the label is pulling a bait and switch (as B-Real does technically appear on here, but only on the hook), or Cypress was trying to provide their beneficiaries some much-needed exposure, which didn't help matters anyway, since when was the last time you ever heard of a song by Call O' Da Wild? For what it's worth, this shit sounds nice, though, with a decidedly blunted Muggs beat that would have sounded nice wrapped around some kind bud.

I like this version more so than one on their debut album, and the fact that Muggs still uses Gene Chandler's "Duke Of Earl" (like he did with the original) is pretty inspired, as it deftly undercuts the overly violent content. This shit is just catchy as hell.

B-Real and Sen Dog rhyme over the same Issac Hayes sample ("Walk On By") that Biggie used to chilling effect for his "Warning" (and different components of the same song have also been used by many other rappers, including 2Pac, Method Man, and Redman), with piss poor results. Okay, that was a bit harsh. B-Real sounds okay (his slow flow reminds me of one of Cypress Hill's best little-known songs, "Roll It Up, Light It Up, Smoke It Up", from the Friday soundtrack), but Sen Dog doesn't impress me, and seriously, whose idea was it to release this song after The Notorious B.I.G.? Even if Cypress somehow got to the sample before Biggie, they should have just left well enough alone and kept this one in the vault.

This was boring as shit.

I'm a stan of A Tribe Called Quest (not that anyone could tell after reading that write-up for Beats, Rhymes and Life), so I can't say that this (edited) remix of one of my favorite Cypress Hill songs is completely without merit, but this pales in comparison to the masterwork that Muggs turned in previously, to such a degree that one wonders why Kamaal even fucking bothered. At least the original song sounded as if it could facilitate some illusions of its own.

There isn't really anything on here that sets this apart as a distinctive Prince Paul Huston remix (except for a brief classical snippet before the third verse): this could have been literally retooled by anybody, and you wouldn't have cared, so why go for the brand name? That said, it still sounds alright, but that's about all.

I'm not sure what this remix borrows the handle from the clean radio edit of this song (originally titled "When The Shit Goes Down") when the lyrics are clearly taken from the dirty version. Diamond D's beat grabs me more than the Muggs original, but that's about all.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The first four tracks on Unreleased & Revamped feature tracks that Cypress Hill should have incorporated onto their actual albums. (Okay, with the exception of "Intellectual Dons", but only because that isn't really Cypress Hill.) The rest of the short disc veers off into questionable territory, with poor beat choices by high-profile artists punctuating the disappointment while blowing bunk weed smoke in your face. This EP was created for the hardcore fans (and by a record label desperate for your hard-earned money), and it shows in the tracklisting: Cypress Hill recorded with the likes of Prince Paul, Redman, the Fugees, Erick Sermon, Q-Tip, and DIamond D because they fucking could, and some of these experiments work fantastically, while others are the definition of navel gazing.

BUY OR BURN? Because of the first four tracks, and the fact that EPs are traditionally cheaper than full-length projects, I recommend you pick this one up if you happen upon it. It's technically out of print, but stranger things have happened, and hey, there's always iTunes. It may appeal more to Cypress Hill soldiers, but anybody with an appreciation for hip hop and an interest in alternate realities will enjoy this.

BEST TRACKS: "Throw Your Hands In The Air"; "Hand On The Pump (Muggs' Blunted Mix)"; "Boom Biddy Bye Bye (Fugees Remix)"; "Intellectual Dons"


Read up on some more Cypress Hill albums here.


  1. Not bad read. Yeah, first four tracks are especially nice, but I always liked 'Hits From The Bong' remix, which I still think is pretty good. I remember I wrote about remix for 'Illusions' in comment section for 'III: Temples of Boom' review; I didn't meant Q-Tip's remix. Just like you said, Q-Tip's remix pales in comparison to the original; but original is completely blown by another remix(I meant this one in Max's review):

  2. Two more things: The only guy releasing album was Muggs? What about B-Real's side project I reviewed not so long time ago? And as a guy who was crazy about CH some time ago and still likes them; check out these little-known songs: and . I think the second one was on Japanese version of 'III: Temples of Boom'.

  3. Banksta - I was referring to actual solo projects, not B-Real joining up with another group, but you're right, it's not like that guy wasn't working. I revised the first paragraph to help clarify things.

    Thanks for your comments!

  4. The Fugees' remix was ace but I was disappointed by the contributions of Q-Tip, Diamond D and Prince Paul which is a shame as they're some of my top favourite producers and yet ironically i don't even own the Fugees album!

  5. Max,

    I've told you this a million times...

    Fuck it, I'll tell you again. YOU ARE FUCKING INSANE.

    The Fugees remix of Boom Biddy Bye Bye cannot think about the original without getting SHREDDED TO FUCKING PIECES.

    The original Muggs beat was The Underworld lying to you that it's a happy place.

    B-Real was the Demon King who crashed all of your dreams and proceeded to rip your spine out your asshole. I told you that Freddy Kreuger had dreams about B-Real, didn't I?

    Sen Dog's background presence & vocals were the last things you hallucinated about before your demise.

    Realizing that it, in fact, IS time to die.

    Close your eyes when listening to the original and I dare you to tell me you don't feel what I just described.

    If you don't, you're a lost cause.

    LOVED this review.