Thursday, July 02, 2009



Admittedly, I wasn't necessarily on the front end of Cypress Hill's fandom. I would say that I was a fringe fan. I liked Black Sunday. In fact, I liked it alot, but it was the popular favorite. I liked it only because you couldn't avoid it in 1993. Over time, however, I was drawn more and more to their first recording and this song, the 29th greatest song in hip hop. Many elements of "Phuncky" follow the typical Cypress approach, however, it's the nine different tracks in it that, without a doubt, set it apart from the others. Anchored by the driving rhythm guitar from Kool and the Gang's "Life is What You Make It" and then intermittently switching over to the broken drums of Kool's "Give It Up," "Phuncky" represents some of DJ Muggs more intense work with breaks as later in his career he would shift to less sample-based production and more of a ground-up composition approach on Black Sunday onward.

"Phuncky" also represents a time in hip hop's history when the art of sampling was fading because paying royalties sucked and, at the end of the day, people were finding ways of making quality product cheaper. It was the year that, after Biz got slapped, he released his All Samples Cleared album which was a sparse, sometimes down-right boring album, but it was legal hip hop. As the practice of sampling was become less equitable for hip hop artists, "Phuncky" is a celebration of the artform taking almost every sound within from a previous recording and orchestrating them into a powerful and undeniable symphonic performance. And you can hardly talk about "Phuncky" without also mentioning "The Funky Cypress Hill Shit" and "Light Another" from the same album which equally exhibit Muggs' mastery of breaks and his affinity for funk. Years from now, you'll be able to put Cypress Hill's first record alongside Funkadelic and Meters records as one of the finer funk recordings in history because, essentially, it is just that...the whole record is a mutha.

Time tested and Root Down approved. Don't be foolish.

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