Today, B Real turns 50 years old. B Real was born in Los Angeles, California, on June 2, 1970. Born, Louis Freese, B Real grew up in one of the grittiest parts of the city, South Gate. While there, he grew to befriend future hip hop collaborators, Sen Dog and Mellow Man Ace. During this period of B Real’s life, he joined and became an active member of the Family Swan Bloods.
Around this time, he and previously mentioned friends from South Gate formed the hip hop collective, Cypress Hill, named after a street in the South Gate area. The hip hop collective is viewed as pioneers both sonically and culturally. The group is comprised of Latinos and are considered pioneers as such a thing was not common in hip hop music. They achieved massive success while being genuinely and authentically themselves, never compromising or exploiting hip hop for its association with African American culture.
B Real, a tremendous rapper in his own right, is one of the defining sounds as the lead MC of hip hop collective. Cypress Hill’s unique sound blends B-Real’s overtly nasally voice and Los Angeles intonation with eerie and stoner beats. The two together create a spooky sound that takes one into the realm of surreal. Songs like “Insane in the Brain,” “Doctor Green Thumb,” and “How I Could Just Kill A Man” show the group gritting their teeth and flashing their very intimidating gangster personas; songs like “Hits From the Bong,” play much more serenely, appealing to those in less aggressive moods.
The aesthetic teeters back and forth between tough gangster rap and psychedelic surrealism associated with marijuana. While describing a musical sound with a substance may sound strange, the sound and the lyrics clearly allude to the use of such substances. The hip hop collective regularly discusses the effect of these substances in their lyrics, and the recreational use of such has become synonymous with their image.
There is also a significant anti-establishment bent to the group’s messaging. B Real is also one of six members in Prophets of Rage. Prophets of Rage is composed of portions of other groups such as Rage Against the Machine and Public Enemy. The Cypress Hill hip hop collective has often played shows with these groups and has collaborated with Rage Against the Machine on multiple occasions. Their joint shows are the stuff of legend, no pun intended.