KEEPIN’ IT REAL
Whether you’re a stoner or a real rap aficionado, you know the name B-Real. The Cypress Hill frontman is synonymous with gritty hip-hop and cannabis culture from his distinctive tone and commanding stage presence. But there’s something you may not be aware of about this living legend. B-Real is one of the most respected, passionate and outspoken advocates for the exploding multi-billion dollar MMJ industry and he’s just getting started.
Words by:Ruben Galindo
Snaps by: Leah Moriyama
Unless you’ve been living in the Himalayas for the past 20 years, you’re familiar with the man affectionately known as Dr. Greenthumb or B-Real–the frontman for the legendary Cypress Hill crew. B-Real is considered to be one of the main progenitors and OG’s of the West Coast’s golden age of hip-hop in the early 1990s. Originality, longevity and being relevant are the holy trinity of any musician much less entrepreneur and B-Real has definitely attained that trifecta. Proof positive being his massive cult-like following for over two decades and album sales of over 18 Million sold worldwide. Long gone are the days of lyrics like, “…hangin’ out the window, with my magnum takin’ out some putos” from the groundbreaking track “How I Could Just Kill a Man.”
Very much like fine wine, B-Real’s talents extend far beyond music. A parallel could be derived from Kobe Bryant. Starting off talented and raw, he used otherworldly athleticism and unrivaled work ethic to draw comparisons to the G.O.A.T.–Michael Jordan. Being a student of the game, Kobe used his extremely high basketball IQ and impeccable footwork as he got older to find other ways to score. Make no mistake, you might see a throwback windmill dunk here and there– rare by choice, but it’s still there when he needs it to be. For B-Real, the passion and love of the game are still very much alive and well, if not more. The only difference is that he’s just become more aware of his vision and game-changing influence. He’s employing different faculties and avenues to get his message across–entertaining while educating the masses. That passion for music and advocacy for cannabis culture is clearly evident in his projects and the new found fitness regimen he goes through to accommodate the rigors of his touring schedule. Make no mistake, B-Real is a student of the game, “People have their lane, I never changed who I am. Some people rap about excessive violence and material things, that’s all good, but it’s not me. But as an artist, you need to evolve and find your lane again and sometimes you stop and that light don’t fucking turn green. You have to reinvent yourself while staying true to yourself,” says B-Real. He is the consummate cannabis advocate, activist and entrepreneur which is apparent from his involvement and conception of B-Real TV, Phuncky Feel tips, and Dr. Greenthumb glass. Not to mention his multiple music projects and festivals. “The legalization of cannabis is spreading throughout the 50 states–from Colorado and ultimately into California where this whole movement started.” B-Real acknowledges that through a deeper education of the benefits is that cannabis entails is the one way we can take greater strides to full legalization. As an ambassador for this movement, he realizes that his influence carries much weight towards our goal for complete legalization. B-Real takes time out of his extremely busy schedule to talk music, cannabis culture and what we need to do collectively to push for complete legalization. With that said, there is still much work to be done, but we’re closer than we have ever been.
Having been a public figure and advocate for cannabis for over 20 years, do you feel any certain responsibilities when it comes to cannabis education and promotion?
I think we’ve always felt that from day one knowing we’re speaking about content that was taboo at the time in the 90’s. Hip Hop didn’t talk about drugs too much and we never considered it a drug in the first place. We just went for broke and talked about what we loved doing. We got put onto Jack Herer who was a real freedom fighter and the quest for legalization and whatnot. That’s who I learned from. He provided the information that inspired me to be who I am now. I think if you’re representing any culture, you need to be educated. You need to be educated enough to be able to enlighten others who look to you for guidance and information.
Your music has always transcended race and culture, what impact do you think your affinity for cannabis had in terms of also networking and befriending other artists?
With respect to music, we tried not to put ourselves in a box like other Latin artists before us by allowing the record company’s label them a Latin group. At that time hip-hop was only so big in Latin markets so we made sure they marketed us as only a hip-hop group which allowed us a broader audience. We could reach out to different groups of people. Because of that, we continuously put out our message from album to album. We always educated people like on our Black Sunday album, we put in an insert which contained all kinds of facts which came from the book The Emperor Wears No Clothes. It was well received from like-minded people and ill received by conservatives and religious types (laughs). We took that chance and we were passionate about it and realized people are in that same train of thought.
When did you first come up with the idea for Cypress Hill’s Smokeout? What were your goals for it?
Chang Weisberg and I were on tour on Smoking Grooves, I believe it was our 2nd or 3rd. A lot of people thought it was our tour since we coheadlined it every year so, people naturally attached us to that particular festival. Chang and I saw how the shows were coordinated and organized in terms of talent, sponsors, vendors and things like that then Chang said to me, “why don’t we create our own?” Let’s do it. He inspired me to step into that world. There are festivals that have been going on in Europe since 15 years and nothing in the states was like that. There are so many festivals and they’re usually locked into a particular genre and we didn’t want to do that with Smokeout. We wanted to incorporate hip-hop, rock, and dance all in one community while educating people as they enter the smokeout experience. Putting music and medicine together and bern.
Did you ever think it would become such a big festival?
We no idea about its potential. Realistically, we just took a chance. Things could have been really bad in terms of obstacles. The city could have shut us down, but we were really organized and just handled things in a professional manner. They actually supported us. We even had a patient’s area to medicate. They helped facilitate a lot of it. That’s hats off to San Bernadino for allowing us to do what we’ve done with Smokeout from the Guerilla Union and Cypress collaborating and supporting us. We appreciate that. We had no idea how much support we would get. I guess there’s a lot of stoners out there (laughs). We’re one of the first in America to do this and we paved the way.
Any plans to make it travel to Colorado given the new legislation?
We make it a point to make it out to Colorado two or three times a year. Sometimes schedule doesn’t permit, but we try as much as we can. Now that Colorado and Washington have taken the lead, what do you think has to happen in order for the rest of the U.S. to fully legalize cannabis? Well, Cali. We need to get our shit together first. We need to quit messing around – we are a progressive front-runner state. Economy-wise, Cali needs it more than anybody right now. The fact that New York, Texas and Florida even looked into MMJ legislation, that’s a great start. If those states rollover into it, pretty much all states will follow suit except for the bible belt states.Those will be the last ones, but eventually, they will realize the economic impact and that they’ve been lied to and mislead about this wonderful plant for last 50 years if bullshit put out there. More tables have turned and more education is out there. It’s endless possibilities.
You’ve long been an enthusiast. What are some of your favorite strains and what activities do you pair them with?
Top of the draw for me has always been OG Kush. That’s always number one but there’s a lot of good strains of late like the Tange, DNA Genetics is off the hook, my man Berner with the Cookies strain that’s fucking sick. The Paris OG we rock that a lot on our IG. Then there’s a strain of Paris called Jet Fuel, that shit will send you to the fucking moon for real. Shoutout to my homies who do the Jet Fuel. The strain finder is Berner. Berner finds the strains man that are ridiculous. People are stepping up their cultivation game which is great. You need to have a variety. Technology is ever evolving. Between flowers, edibles, or dabbing, what is your favorite way of medicating? I’m a bud man. I like to dab, but I’m a flower smoker.
You’ve introduced your own glass filter tips for spliffs, blunts, and joints, how has the response to the product been?
It really caught on. I think a lot of artists talk about them a lot. It’s been viral and it’s been just amazing. For being a joint smoker, I knew people would need it. It’s a great experience and it doesn’t get harsh even at the end. No more ripping ridiculous papers. People appreciate it. It’s for the joint and blunt connoisseur.
How did B-Real TV come about?
My man Maceo from De La Soul was doing his thing called De La’s Dugout and he hit me up and said, “hey man I got this thing. Maybe you could check it out and make an appearance.” They weren’t really hosting it, but DJ’ing it. I thought what a great idea, but I didn’t know about live streaming. I was curious and I created a UStream page and said fuck it. I’ll stream a Cypress show called the 420 show at the Fillmore in San Francisco. We never promoted it, we just threw it out there and it was 16K-20K live views with no promo or features. That tripled the audience in the actual venue. As I was studying this live steaming shit, Kenji who is the co-owner of this B-Real TV, he worked with a company called StickAM their features were unique and they wanted to build a platform for just me and I started out with the Dr. Greenthumb show but I wanted to make it more like a radio station and it came around from us having two shows to now, 17. It just grew. People saw our vision and gave us their shows. It’s been a blessing and it all stemmed from Maceo giving me that idea. We have been trying to get Maceo to bring his show down here. But everybody’s got their lane so when he’s ready, he’s got a home here.
What current musical projects are in the works for you?
October of last year we put out two free mixtapes. One was Serial Killers with Xzibit and Demrick which is a full blown album. People call their shits mixtapes and their albums because they’re scared to lose or whatever. It’s a fucking album man. Lenny and I put out The Medication mixtape and that was also free. I got a couple projects. The Cypress Album is done and the Dr. Greenthumb album. Just keeping busy with the music and B-Real TV What do you do to stay relevant? People have their lane, I never changed who I am. It’s me raw, just rapping with you. Some people rap about excessive violence and material things, that’s all good, but it’s not me. But as an artist, you need to evolve and find your lane again and sometimes you stop and that light don’t fucking turn green. You have reinvented yourself while staying true to yourself. A lot of artists have fallen prey to that. Refusing to change your craft is murder. Madonna was the queen of reinventing herself so you would never get tired of her. She paved the way and showed all the younger pop stars what’s up. Lady GaGa, constantly changing her shit up. As an artist, you gotta do it. Evolve. As a man, keep your core value so people that fucked with you in the first place will keep on.
Do you ever trip and think back to where you started from to where you are today?
People try to forget where they came from. The road here was a pretty tough one and as you gain momentum and success, you tend to forget about that shit and if you do, you forget who you are then you’re lost. I try to remember and always appreciate what I have and where I stand. I remember, coming out hard In the mid-90’s selling millions of records or even right now giving out records and broadcasting on B-Real TV and just staying relevant. I am appreciative of all my blessings. The longevity is a trip. Where three of us came from and were all here, is actually funny that were still alive (laughs) or even able to make music. If you look at it like that, you’ll be humble, appreciative and be good to people. That’s a lot of change that happens. How you treat people. I saw it with other artists and they’re unapproachable. I joke with my guys here and they joke with me. We’re all family and fucking around. I’m never on some superstar shit. I’m constantly checking myself.
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule.
No problem fam. It’s always good to be able to educate and get our message out.
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