Heavily known for their work in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Cypress Hill have really put together a terrific career. The group was never afraid of being themselves, from their stoner-influenced lyrics to their blend of hardcore and boom-bap influences, the guys from South Gate never hid an ounce of their personality. This approach is what yielded fantastic and influential tracks such as “Insane in the Brain” and “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That.” Though their successes slowed down eventually, B-Real, DJ Muggs and Sen Dog still were able to captivate hardcore hip-hop fans in their later years.
The problem is, groups are only able to stay interesting for so long. When a group is so ingrained in their image and has a hard time adapting, this timeline is shortened that much more. Cypress Hill truly does have some fantastic work in their catalog, but even they seem less interested in the group as time goes on. It has been eight years since the group released Rise Up which is certainly not a normality for the group. On top of this, many of the members of the group have very successful side projects or solo efforts. It seemed inevitable that Cypress Hill was to be abandoned unless something dramatic was to come out of the woodworks. Something that made us look at the group in a different way than ever before. Unfortunately, Elephants on Acid is not that.
That is not to say the record is a mess. In fact, there is a lot to love here for old-school fans. The hauntingly psychedelic beats DJ Muggs provides on this album are quite delectable. Middle Eastern influences are perfectly blended with some murder scene noir vibes on these on this record. While this result may sound disturbing, it actually works quite well generally. The first single, “Band of Gypsies,” showcases this the best. The haunting undertones buried beneath B-Real’s bars and Muggs’ middle-eastern affair creates something both supernatural and ultimately appealing. Still, there are places where the music feels more like a novelty than an actual musical moment. “Thru the Rabbit Hole” is a strong example of this. The repetitive dissonant keys on this track certainly strike a chord initially, but as this track drags on you wonder what the point of all this noise is?
This atmospheric work Muggs puts in is also undercut by a lot of the bars on this project. The same topic matters and personas that defined Cypress Hill in ’80s-’90s still permeate through on this record. While this approach certainly worked out for them in the past, it just feels stale here. There is absolutely nothing wrong in holding true in your ideals as a person or group, but people want to hear growth out of groups this old. They want to see something big, bold and new. Cuts like “Jesus was a Stoner” and “Reefer Man” show that this is certainly not what they will get.
Even so, the music on the album is far from bad. The brash delivery of B-Real and haziness of the beats create a very pleasant result. You certainly are not going to get an overly mature or introspective record here, but you will at least be able to relive some ’90s nostalgia. Every once in a while, that is more than okay.