When VH1 ran down the list of their 2008 roster for their annual Hip-Hop Honors, many fans were surprised to see Cali’s Cypress Hill amongst notables like De La Soul, Too $hort and Slick Rick. Still when Cypress debuted in 1991 with their first single “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” their sound was like no other. In ’93 they returned with their sophomore album Black Sunday, making a name amongst the mosh-pit set with their killer live shows. In addition to the VH1 Honor, 2008 seems to be a big year for the Hill, as members Sen Dog, Eric Bobo and B-Real are all releasing solo debuts (B-Real’s album actually is coming in Feb. ’09 on Duckdown Records).

I got to chop it up with CH’s percussionist Eric Bobo whose album Meeting of the Minds (featuring Tony Touch, Ill Bill, The Demigodz and DJ Rhettmatic) drops today on Nacional Records.—Rob the Music Ed

On the Album:
The title Meeting of the Minds means bringing things together all under one roof. Musically what I wanted to do is to bring different genres together with me being the common link to all the tracks. And since I’ve been exposed to all types of music all of my life, I didn’t want to stay with just one thing. So I wanted to put everything under one umbrella. Some tracks I produced, other tracks may have been already done and I just laid my stuff on top of it. So even if you hear a track that doesn’t have a percussion solo, I still had my hand in it.

On The New Cypress Hill Album:
We’re looking to release the record in May or June of ’09 to give everybody a chance to do their thing on the solo tip. We’re already far into it. We’ve had some songs that Primo did and Pete Rock, we don’t know what’s gonna make the album yet, but we’re definitely goin’ back to that gritty, raw, Cypress sound. It’s really gonna be a strong Hip-hop album, it’s not gonna be like Skull & Bones with that rock, hip-hop mix. This is gettin’ back to that raw Hip-hop.

On VH1’S Hip-Hop Honors:
Hip-Hop Honors was real big for us as a group because Cypress isn’t really used to winning awards or even being nominated or considered. But I think it was great to be inducted with icons like Slick Rick and Naughty and De La… It was crazy [to see Mack 10 come out and honor us]. That was a big thing when the whole Westside Connection/Cypress beef was goin’ on and since then it’s been squashed. For Mack 10 to come on out, it was a sign of unity. And I think we’re gonna get Ice Cube to try to do something on the new Cypress record, so it’s really just come full circle because we were all tight back in the day.

On The Live Show:
We try to bring it. You have these Hip-hop icons that are legends and you grew up on their records, but when you go see them live, they’re not really bringing it. I think the live show is very important. To me there is only a handful of groups that would give a dope show. You usually don’t see like a Busta Rhymes or a Digital Underground back in the day; they were really bringing it. Now you don’t get it like that. They’re good on videos and they are good in the studio, but live they don’t know how to bridge that gap. I really don’t know what it is. It’s all about how you command the stage and command the crowd, that’s what we try to do; if we don’t do that then they don’t feel like we gave a good show. We gotta have the people goin’ crazy, we gotta have the mosh-pits, we gotta have the crowd surfin’—that’s our thing! I think more Hip-hop artists gotta bring it, especially if you got hits.

On The Rock/Rap Dichotomy:
You have your Hip-hop purists who don’t wanna hear too much other influences in that. For the core hip-hop purists maybe they might have been turned off a little bit by our rock edge. Back in the day Hip-hoppers were supposed to stay Hip-hop and not expand. But look at what Run-DMC did, look at what Public Enemy did. We were also still considered a hip-hop group. We were trying to get love from the urban department [of our record company] and they didn’t feel like we were urban enough anymore because we had done more alternative stuff. We weren’t gettin’ the spins on urban radio like we were doing before, but we were still the same group. Now things are opening up with different artists experimenting; you get Lil Wayne on a Rock track or Kanye West working with Maroon 5. We did lose fans, but we also gained a lot of fans as well. We’re still riding. They call Cypress Hill the Grateful Dead of Hip-hop.

Eric Bobo ft. The Demigodz "Chicken Wing"