June 2 In Hip-Hop History: B-Real Of Cypress Hill Is Born

By Tony M. Centeno

June 2, 2022

B-Real of Cypress Hill
Photo: Getty Images

B-Real of Cypress Hill has made a lasting impression on several generations of artists and rap fans over the years. The ground-breaking MC has been rapping since the late 1980s and making history on behalf of all Latinos in Hip-Hop ever since.

On June 2, 1970, B-Real, who was born Louis Mario Freese, was brought into the world by Cuban and Mexican parents in Los Angeles. After living in L. A and South Gate, Calif., B-Real moved to Bell where he met founding Cypress Hill members Sen Dog and Mellow Man Ace, who are brothers from Cuba.

In 1988, B-Real, Sen Dog and Mellow Man Ace met DJ Muggs of New York City and formed their first rap group DVX (Devastating Vocal Excellence). After Mellow Man Ace left the group to pursue his solo career, the group changed its name to Cypress Hill after a street in South Gate. They spent a couple of years finding the right label and even got passed on by several imprints before Ruffhouse and Columbia Records realized their talent. In 2021, B-Real spoke about the hardships of coming up as a Latin-based rap group.

"There was some hurdles there but I'll say this man," B-Real explained. "For the most part, Hip-Hop embraced us. People embraced us. The hurdles we had were more about getting signed because people didn't understand the cannabis talk. They didn't understand my high-pitch style... and we were coming in different formation and that's because of the inspiration of Public Enemy. I mean we were deeply inspired by Public Enemy and how their production and how they flipped everything. So we tried to do everything as different as possible because we were Latino and because we had an unorthodox style, yeah sure there was a few people who didn't want to f**k with us. We got passed on by four labels before Ruffhouse and Sony, God bless them, said 'you know what? These are our guys we want, and they made an effort to come get us."

The group went on to drop its self-titled debut album in 1991 via Ruffhouse and Columbia Records. Popular songs like "The Phuncky Feel One," "Hand On The Pump," "Real Estate" and "Latin Lingo" helped the album sell 2 million copies and eventually go double platinum. They became the first Latin-based rap act to accomplish that feat.

"Latin Lingo" and "Tres Equis" were some of the first mainstream Hip-Hop records to prominently flex lyrics in both English and Spanish on the same track. That trend would go on to become a beloved quality about the group, and it showed in their second album. Black Sunday dropped in 1993 with its lead single "Insane In The Brain" and other songs like "3 Lil' Putos." The 14-track album debuted at No. 1 of the Billboard 200 chart and went on to become triple platinum.

"Insane In The Brain" helped Cypress Hill become the first rap act of Latin descent to be nominated for a Grammy. They received their first nod in 1994 for "Best Rap Performance by a Group or Duo." Since then, Cypress Hill has dropped ten albums and received two more Grammy nominations.

Despite the group's musical accolades, B-Real continued to branch to pursue other musical ventures. He dropped his first mixtape The Gunslinger in 2005 and followed-up with five other tapes, with one under his Dr. Greenthumb moniker, and two solo LP's. In 2016, B-Real helped form Prophets of Rage with three members of Rage Against the Machine (Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello, and drummer Brad Wilk), Public Enemy's DJ Lord and rapper Chuck D. The band eventually disbanded in 2019.

While still rapping with Cypress Hill, B-Real also has his own content platform B-Real TV and is the host of three shows: The Dr. Greenthumb Podcast, The Smokebox and Meditation. You can help celebrate his birthday by pressing play on any one of his influential albums or his entertaining shows.

Happy Birthday B-Real!

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