So why is Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
There’s a small group of albums for me that have strong Early Years at College energy, and Black Sunday is very high on that list. Others include Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head, R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People, and Stone Temple Pilots’ Core.
These were all dominant and massively popular albums in the dorms of Binghamton University, and more specifically the hallways of Dickinson Community and Johnson Hall, where your humble narrator lived during his early college years.
But of all those albums, Black Sunday is really the one that feels most like my early college days (more on this below).
And while the entire album is remarkably consistent – somehow groovy yet menacing hip hop at the same time – it’s the smash hit “Insane in the Brain” that stands out the most.
While west coast hip hop had already made its way into the mainstream (and the east coast along with it) by then, there was something about that thumping bass and whistle effect that created a mesmerizing and exciting sound that I had never quite heard before. And then on top of that, the interplay and different rap styles that B-Real and Sen Dog bring to the mix make for a hugely unique experience.
“I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That” veers even harder into a menacing groove, creating an almost hypnotic yet tense atmosphere. Side note that I’m a little surprised that more crime dramas haven’t leveraged Cypress Hill songs over the years. Probably too expensive is my guess.
I feel a little ashamed that I’m this deep into a Cypress Hill album entry before mentioning a certain herb that some consider to be magical. A big part of the Cypress Hill “brand,” so to speak, is their love of the ganja, and “Hits From the Bong” celebrates their enjoyment of getting their spark on.
It expertly leverages a sample from Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man,” and importantly notes that CP can chill things down while still producing exciting, party-ready hip hop.
Finally, I must add a quick note about “Cock the Hammer,” not because of its downright unsettling bassline and backbeat, but more because my friend Jake (a high school teacher in New York these days) used to enjoy singing along to the chorus back in the day: “Cock the hammer, it’s time for ACTION!”
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday
Okay, here are a few anecdotes relating to my early days at college in Binghamton.
I lived in Johnson Hall for two years. My roommate for about a year and a half of that time was a guy named Bill, a very nice and bright engineering student. We were not the closest of friends but got along fine. He went on to work at Harvard University.
For some reason, there was some kind of sign or plaque placed above the entry way on our half of the first floor of Johnson Hall that read, The Ward. Prior to my moving in, someone had taken it upon themselves to insert the word “Psycho” into the messaging, so thus I lived on The Psycho Ward.
Insane in the brain, indeed.
We truly had some oddball people living with us on the, uh, Psycho Ward. One elfish-looking red-headed guy by the name of Josh, if memory serves, is a great example. One time, he decided to write a six or seven digit number on everyone’s whiteboard (most people had one on the exterior of their dorm room doors) because he had dreamed that that was the population of Jacksonville, Florida. And therefore he felt the need to spread the word, or number, as it were.
He could often be found pacing up and down the dorm hallway shouting about something or other.
Another guy was named Joe King. Joe was a very intense guy on the wrestling team. One night, a few of us were chatting in someone’s room, and then Joe stormed in to announce – in a very Macho Man Randy Savage kind of way, actually, though devoid of any shtick or irony – that he Had. To. Study. And. That. He. Wasn’t. Joking.
Joe King. Joking…
This became an incident of much enduring hilarity, which I’m sure Mr. King took much umbrage with.
Joe, if you’re somehow reading this, I hereby sincerely apologize on behalf of The Psycho Ward.
Okay, one more story. There was a guy who had a poster of Bruce Willis in his room. Not so strange, right? Well, the guy “drew” a mustache on Bruce.
I’m pretty sure he’d “reapply” it every once in a while.
The only other thing I recall about the Mustache Artist is that he was a hardcore fan of Jane’s Addiction.
Some stats & info about Cypress Hill – Black Sunday
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, West Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Black Sunday released? 1993
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #487 out of 1,000
Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
Don’t you know I’m loco?
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.