Still Smokin’ After All These Years

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Over two decades strong, Cypress Hill continues to be the #1 Latino rap act in this country.  As hip hop culture took shape in the 80’s and 90’s, Sen Dog, B-Real and company continued to make their mark by staying true to the realities of Latino urban youth from Los Angeles, resonating with young people all over the country.

Many hits (on the bong and on record) later, Cypress Hill is being recognized as a pioneer of the genre at this year’s  VH1 Hip Hop Honors Show (airing Monday, Oct 6, 10 ET). With no plans to slow down, Sen Dog released his first-ever solo project late last month, Diary of a Mad Dog, featuring his homies and his most personal thoughts.

The Cuban-born Sen Dog (real name: Senen Reyes) spoke to about the long awaited , having a heart attack earlier this year, at the age of 43, and not giving a shit about the elections (!).

Remezcla: Cypress Hill continues to be the most well-known Latino Hip-Hop group in the world, what make you guys so innovative?

Sen Dog: We work very hard, we have undeniable chemistry  and we got an incredibly loyal fan base that follows us religiously. I attribute that longevity to being able to record for so long.

ЯE: Your solo project has been many years in the making, what finally made you decide to run with it?

SD: I started the album last spring and it’s called Diary of a Mad Dog, its my very first solo album since I’ve always been part of a band whether its a rock band (SX-10) or a rap group but its always been with other people. This time I branched out on my own and I am  nervously excited.

ЯE:What are the challenges of working on your own?

SD: The main challenge is coming up with all the material on my own and not having B-Real there with me. We are always coming up with stuff together, when I’m by myself I don’t have that so I had to push myself a little deeper, a little harder. Some writing block was involved and also some stressful points, but I  got through it all. In the end it’s when  you’re pushed against a wall that you’ll find out how good you really are.

ЯE: What kinds of things were able to get out in your solo album that you hadn’t with the group?

SD: A couple of more personal stuff and some political and racial issues. Racial issues that plague America are real serious and I  just want to make sure that people know that I got brothers from every race and I don’t play that shit.  I’m just saying what needs to be said, in this record I talked about my past and growing up and being involved in gangs and whatnot, I really didn’t go in the studio with an agenda.

ЯE: How did  suffering a heart attack in the middle of making this record change your music?

SD: It made it deeper, my songs became deeper, I could definitely appreciate being able to record more after this.  I changed  in the sense that I appreciate life alot more and carry myself the right way. Life is to be taken serious and to be enjoyed seriously- you should do that.

ЯE: You didn’t collaborate with any other big hip hop names on this album, instead you included many of your friends, why?
SD: I don’t hang out with Ludacris everyday or Snoop Dogg– I don’t kick it with Lenny Kravitz or anything like that. I just didn’t want to be like every other hip hop artist and have every other song with a big name on there. The guys that are on my records are the guys that I kick back with everyday, the same guys who are in the studio everyday smoking blunts with me. I think there worthy and deemed to be on the record and fans will be able to recognize their name after picking up the record. A couple of my homeboys, AK and Young De are some real serious hip hop animals and I love their commitment and the love that they have for hip hop-that’s why I hooked up with them.

ЯE: Alot of people don’t know you’re Cuban, tell us about coming from the island?

SD: We came from Cuba in the early 70s, I was like 7 or 8 when we came. It was my dad, my brother and my two sisters and I, we lived in Miami for a while — 5 or 6 years then my dad got a job at LAX and we moved out there. My parents bought a house on Cypress Avenue that’s eventually where the group would start.

ЯE: Are you following the Presidential elections?

SD: No and I don’t care about it. It’s all bullshit and there both just saying anything to get the job. At the end of the day, they’re not going to be able to keep all the promises that they said. I just hope that whoever lands the job is well equipped for it and gets the country out of this fucked up situation that it’s in right now.

ЯE:So whats your advice for Latinos who want to change things?

SD: Education is the best thing for young people. Eventually you’re going to have to go out there and you need to be competitive. I encourage kids to go to college and get a degree to be successful people.