“I give God thanks for the grace he’s allowed us to have this amazing run.”
HED King of the Cypress Hill
DEK The legendary B-Real takes a break from his summer of touring to talk to KIND about federal politics, where he found his voice, Jack Herer and writing the hip hop Stairway to Heaven
B-Real from Cypress Hill brought cannabis into hip hop and hip hop into the mainstream. Opening this Saturday night in Toronto for Billy Talent, the west coast gangster rappers, over percussive, disruptive DJ Muggs beats—the California answer to the Bomb Squad making music for Public Enemy in the east—toured the world with the Beastie Boys and, in total, have sold more than 20 million records worldwide. Distinctive, iconic, still vital and ahead of their time, the artists behind jams like “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” “Insane in the Brain,” “Hits from the Bong” and “(Rock) Superstar” invigorated rap music with a Latin swing, weed clouds and denouncements over police brutality before Black Lives Matters reclaimed the streets. KIND spoke with B-Real from his home in Los Angeles, where he runs four cannabis dispensaries called Dr. Greenthumb—which also sells his bespoke line of weed.
KIND: Thirty years ago this summer you released Black Sunday with “Insane in the Brain”and reached number one on the Billboard chart. Through it all, you advocated for cannabis. You happy about where the fight is today?
B-Real: On one end, we’ve gotten it legalised and decriminalised in all these states and that’s a step in the right direction. But there’s still a lot of work to be done in getting it legal federally and making the industry fair.
  • KIND: Fair?

    B-Real: Taxes here in California are ridiculous and they make it impossible on businesses to operate.
  • KIND: It’s the same here in Canada.

    B-Real: But you know, we don’t have people going to jail for cannabis like we used to and that’s a step in the right direction. It’s just that a lot of work still needs to be done.
  • KIND: I took a flight recently and they confiscated my toothpaste and let me bring on my hash. I learned about weed from you. Does that amaze you?

    B-Real: It means it’s being more accepted and that’s what we were hoping for through advocacy and activism—trying to lace people up as to what cannabis means.
  • KIND: What did you like about cannabis when you first got stoned?

    B-Real: It settled me down and calmed me down and helped me to be aware and present. I was really high strung.
  • KIND: And it was that feeling that set you on your path?

    B-Real: I learned that it went well beyond me. I was hearing stories of how it helped people—medically, emotionally, physically—and being a consumer and enjoying the transformation thrust me into being an advocate.
  • KIND: What else did?

    B-Real: Articles in High Times and the work that Jack Herer put out, all of that made cannabis a bigger thing for me.
  • KIND: Do you remember when you knew music would take over your life?

    B-Real: My mother was always playing Latin music from Cuba and Mexico and she also liked the Beatles. My father liked doo-wop and stuff from the ’50s, and then I was in b-boy culture as a popper.
  • KIND: I had no idea.

    B-Real: That was my introduction to hip hop and KDAY. They had a Friday night late show and I fell in love.
  • KIND: And you knew that you wanted to rap?

    B-Real: At the time, I was writing poetry in my head. It wasn’t part of the school program, just something I did.
  • KIND: What did you like about rap?

    B-Real: We were in love with hip hop. We kept getting on the mic and eventually it was like: this is what we want to do with our life.
  • KIND: No one sounded like you and, to this day, no one does.

    B-Real: My regular voice is not the voice you hear of me rapping.
  • KIND: No shit?

    B-Real: Muggs was telling me I had to come up with something or I’d be writing raps for Sen Dog—fuck that.
  • KIND: Ha!

    B-Real: My normal voice wasn’t cutting through the track. My writing was decent, but one day Mellow and I were working on a demo and we were fans of Rammellzee and he had two different vocal tones—a deep tone and high-pitched nasally tone. I was joking around, but started rapping in that voice over what we he had written.
  • KIND: Like when Reeses first put chocolate with peanut butter.

    B-Real: I didn’t like it. I thought it was fucking crazy!
  • KIND: I guess after 20 million records sold it’s grown on you a little bit?

    B-Real: I got used to it, but I didn’t know how other people would receive it.
  • KIND: Back when you were popping, could you ever have imagined it would be received this well?

    B-Real: Our music has been passed down to younger generations like Led Zeppelin or the Beatles. It means the music is timeless, and that’s fucking awesome.
  • KIND: You were 19 and I was 16 when your first record changed both our lives. It’s cool we’re both still doing this today.

    B-Real: Some kids got Cypress from their grandparents—which is fucking crazy. I give God thanks for the grace he’s allowed us to have this amazing run.
  • KIND: In the back of your mind did you know you’d last?

    B-Real: You never know.
  • KIND: What’s your plan for the summer?

    B-Real: A record with Psycho Les from the Beatnuts, an album with my partner Berner, music from Cypress Hill and Dr. Greenthumb on YouTube and B-Real.TV.
  • KIND: After taking it so far, what pumps you up to keep pushing in 2023?

    B-Real: Muggs, Eric Bobo, Sen and myself—were of a competitive spirit. We always sought to be the best at what we do.
  • KIND: But just the athleticism involved.

    B-Real: Rocking sold-out festivals with crazy-ass energy in our 50s?
  • KIND: And hip hop doesn’t age like the Beach Boys.

    B-Real: We keep ourselves together. Stay fit. It’s important to us to do what we love and not break down, not proceed to do what we love.
  • KIND: You still love it after all this time?

    B-Real: I love the opportunities God gave us and spread love to our fans, love to ourselves.
For latest information and tour dates, including July 8 in Toronto, July 9 in Quebec City and July 15 in London, Ontario, and the digital 30th anniversary edition of Black Sunday, see