Saturday, July 28, 2012

Song of the Day: Cypress Hill, "(Rock) Superstar"

If my coworkers are any indication, most folks born in the 1990s have never heard of Cypress Hill.

These days, Cypress Hill are pushing 20 years without a great album and are plausibly too stoned to see anything embarrassing about an opening slot for Sublime with Rome this summer. But I prefer to remember them for their first two albums, Cypress Hill and Black Sunday, and for "(Rock) Superstar."

Cypress Hill have better songs than "(Rock) Superstar," but none that exhibit their metal influence quite as well. In 2000, they cashed in on rap-rock mania with Skull & Bones, a rock-fused album blatantly capitalizing on nu metal trends.  It's a flawed record (was it really worth making it a 2-CD set just to have "rap" and "rock" sides, including "(Rap) Superstar?"), yet "(Rock) Superstar" was a rare comeback for them, the kind of hit that they hadn't seen in years and haven't had since.

Few artists have ever convincingly pulled off the Stardom is Tough theme, and it's all the more surprising that a team of LA stoners did so well. It helps that B-Real and Sen Dog's tales are more cautionary than whiny, and that DJ Muggs sounds like he's finally got the crescendo he's been working for. That progression lends itself well to heavier interpretations, as seen below.

With Chino Moreno from the Deftones:

With Slash and Duff McKagan from Guns N' Roses:

Shortly after its release, "(Rock) Superstar" turned up in the trailer to Training Day, where the ascending beat perfectly underscored the tensions in the movie. Too bad the film turned out to be a mediocre vehicle for one transcendent performance. Kind of like Skull & Bones.

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