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Pop Music Review

Cypress Hill Fuels Rap With Rock

October 09, 2000|STEVE APPLEFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Could Cypress Hill be the new kings of rock? There was compelling evidence for that proposition Saturday at the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino, where the rap group spearheaded its third annual Smoke Out festival's massive lineup of rockers, rappers and DJs for a crowd that police estimated at 60,000. Even in that company, Cypress Hill easily dominated the day with its harsh beats and frequently riveting rock passages.

The group has grown more urgent with age, hardening its initial hip-hop groove, and recently absorbing rock moves and formulas far more convincingly than many so-called rap-metal bands. "Ooh, it's gonna be nuts," member B-Real declared early in the group's 1 a.m. set. "Don't get scared."

Pacing the big stage, B-Real traded fiery raps with Sen Dog across the storm of beats and ancient funk samples that form "I Could Just Kill a Man." And as spotlights scanned a dark, overcast sky, Cypress Hill soon turned to the heavy guitars of "Rock Superstar," the hit track that has returned the group to popularity and prominence.

Earlier in the evening, Limp Bizkit performed with more mixed results. Most crippling to the band was a muted sound mix that reduced its beats and guitars to a flat, quiet storm. But there were other memorable moments in a day that included sets by the Long Beach Dub Allstars, Gang Starr, Pennywise and others.

Alternative metal act System of a Down came off like a higher-octane version of Tool, with throttling bass and guitars, and a willingness to suddenly slow things down for passages that were restrained and gloomy.

Soon after, 311 stormed the stage with such hits as "Down" and "Beautiful Disaster," building hook-filled melodies with hard-edged ingredients.

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