B-Real, “I Would F*ck With [Wiz & Curren$y] If They Reached Out.”
After nearly two decades in the rap game, B-Real has certainly done his part to contribute to the global expansion of the genre. As one-third of the universally respected rap trio Cypress Hill, the Los Angeles, California native has had a hand in the making of a classic album (the group’s 1991 self-titled debut) and rocked epic tours that have made rap one of the top selling music genres in the world. On his recently released project, The Harvest, Vol. 1, the rapper/producer has brought together a roster of aspiring rappers from across the globe—France, Canada, Italy, South Africa, and Pakistan—for a mixtape compilation of international portions. A sonic backdrop that is a mix of hip-hop and rock courtesy of B-Real accompanies the melting pot of flows. With The Harvest B-Real is planting the seeds for hip-hop’s future sound and schooling cats on that next ish.
XXLMag.com: What made you take such an all-inclusive global feel on The Harvest?
B-Real: Yeah, basically we did like a contest and asked a lot of our fans and people who were on our site to give us submissions. I was working on a CD looking for new artists and stuff like that. We got over a thousand submissions. And, you know, we listened to all of them and picked the best 20. And we just started giving them music and asked them to come to our studio out here in Los Angeles so that we can pretty much produce them correctly. Instead of sending them the beat and then them recording it and us getting it back with the gamble that we might not like what they did. We wanted to make sure it was real, a hands on process so that we can get the best out of them.
You wound up working with people from different countries/continents. How did you work things out with the language barriers?
At first they were trying to rap in English. And we were like, no, we don’t want you to rap in English. We want you to rap in your first language because I wanna hear the flow. And no matter what language they’re rapping in if the flow is tight that’s what matters. What they’re saying obviously that’s a gamble ’cause you don’t know exactly what they are saying. They could be saying whatever the fuck they want to say. But I think for us it was listening for the flow and their technique and making sure their voices sounded good as well that they had a good vocal tone and what not. And that was basically the factor because if they had a good flow but we didn’t like maybe the content we could have them change the content as long as the flow is there. If they had good content and no flow or no pocket it would’ve been hard to develop them.
You’ve been in the business for 20 years and here you are working on a project with such a universal feel. What are some of the things that contribute to hip-hop’s global appeal?
With the exception of the shit that goes on now with all this the mindless type shit with no substance where “I got this” and “I got that,” you know, “check out my mansion, check out my 20 whips, check out my fine hoes” and shit like that… Yeah, there’s people that can relate to that because that’s what certain kids think they want in life and shit like that, but back in the earlier days of hip-hop there was more substance and I think because of that time in hip-hop that’s what helped it expand from New York to LA, Chicago, Miami, and the Midwest, then eventually overseas, then eventually to other continents other than just Europe. It reached out to Japan reached out to Australia, South Africa, to fucking places that hip-hop actually never been.
Breaking into the business with Cypress Hill in 1991, did you guys grasp the importance of your role as one of the first prominent Latino artists in hip-hop?
We just made music that we loved, you know. That was our whole focus, doing stuff that we felt good about because your name goes out on what you put out, you know. The whole thing was we wanted the best quality of music and with that we wanted to talk shit that people were… They could relate to that, people would understand and find something to attach themselves to whether it was the pro-marijuana issues in content they were talking about or it was just life in the streets. Those were the things that were important to us while we were making the music. How people perceived it, and how it was received from the public we didn’t really give a shit at first. I guess we really don’t give a shit now we just keep with that same formula, just trying to make the best music that represents us.
There has been a sort of a revival in the weed culture within rap with guys like Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y. Are you a fan of their work? Would you work with them?
Yeah, I would definitely fuck with them if they reached out to me or whatever. I definitely am not one of the old school veterans that don’t like working with the new cats. I’ll work with the new cats. I have no problem with that, because they carry on what we started and that’s important even if they never mentioned who we are, what we are, or if we influenced them. The new cats these days are going to take this game on to the next level. There are a lot of cats out there that are dope that I would fuck with and those cats that you mentioned are definitely some of them.
Well, I like Jay Electronica. I mean he’s not that new, but he’s one cat that I really like. I like Drake, too. I don’t really like so much of his commercial shit, but Drake is pretty tight. There are a few cats, but my favorite is Jay Electronica.
How do you feel about the lack of social commentary in music coming out now on a mainstream level?
That’s the problem. It’s out there. There are artists that are speaking their minds and making good music, and not just some preachy-shove-it-down-your-throat type songs. Man, I can’t stand those fucking songs myself. But there are some really good songs out there that are of substance, but like you said radio doesn’t play that because they don’t want you thinking of stuff like that. —Rondell Conway