Read the full interview on AllHipHop.com!
B-Real needs no introduction. Not only is he the lead vocalist of legendary hip-hop group Cypress Hill, who just announced their upcoming VERZUZ against Onyx on May 14th, the West Coast spitter is a force to be reckoned with in the cannabis industry.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, B-Real has somehow bridged the gap between music and cannabis, creating his own empire and opening up multiple Dr. Greenthumb dispensaries throughout California.
Talk about full circle, B-Real named his dispensaries after Cypress Hill’s standout single from 1998, “Dr. Greenthumb,” which even had E-40 referencing the song in “Tell Me When To Go.” He also launched his own cannabis line called Insane OG, named after the group’s viral smash hit “Insane In The Brain.”
The long list of accomplishments Cypress Hill has obtained throughout their 3-decade long career comes as no surprise, from being the first Latino rap group to go Platinum to even having their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And to celebrate his successes, B-Real hosts his own podcast called The Dr. Greenthumb Show every day from Monday through Friday, 2pm to 4pm PST.
AllHipHop: So crazy, I first met you when I brought you Dizzy Wright on Smokebox!
B-Real: Thank you for that, that’s a solid dude. Not only as a rapper is he f###### dope as f###, but he’s a dope person. I’ve been able to collaborate with him on a number of things. On one of my solo albums, he did a song called “Dabs With Me.” We did a video and built a friendship and a relationship from that. I got on some of his recent stuff, which we’re going to do a video for pretty soon.
And not for nothing, he’s on that f###### Back in Black Cypress Hill album. Let no one say that Cypress Hill doesn’t embrace the generations coming up, because realistically, no one expected a collab with us and Dizzy. He f###### killed that song! “Bye Bye,” he f###### murdered it. He made the theme to the Smokebox on that one album. He got a song called “Let Me Welcome You to the Smokebox,” based on his experience in our Smokebox. That was due to your hookup, so thank you.
AllHipHop: I interviewed you for Flaunt Magazine and you told me that holding the smoke in your lungs more doesn’t get you higher. That had me shook!
B-Real: No, it’s the same. The only difference that happens is you hold that s### in longer and you’re withholding oxygen to your head. It makes you feel a little bit different in that way because you’re holding your f###### breath. Realistically, in out preserves your lungs more. You don’t get all that build up in your lungs from holding that s### in too long.
An older m########### told me that when I was very young, I was 18 or 19 and he was 65. He was a long-time smoker, smoking since he was 13. The same as me, but at that time. He saw me doing the big hit, holding it in and coughing it all out all crazy, he’s like “f### you doing? Inhale exhale, easy. You ain’t gotta do none of that s### man.” Ever since then, I preserve my lungs. I get high as f###, no matter if I hold it in or not. I got mad breath control. I could hold it in longer than most, but why do that? Let it ride the f### out.
AllHipHop: I really be dying when I take bong rips though.
B-Real: Inhale exhale, just like dabs. That’s why people get bent off the dabs, because they’re trying to hold that s### in. Inhale exhale: let that come in, go right the f### out. You’re going to get lit no matter what, it’s going to be easy on your lungs.
AllHipHop: You went to a vocal coach to give fans a better show, how was that experience? You were saying earlier you couldn’t stand hearing your voice.
B-Real: I had a totally different voice than the one I’d make records with, and that’s the voice I could not f### with. [laughs] It sounded crazy to me in recordings. As I got older then I flipped the voice, I could bear it more. In developing that voice, I developed it for recording but not necessarily for doing live shows. That was tough in the beginning, doing that high-pitched voice live and letting my adrenaline, excitement, and energy take over. Now, I’m yelling the lyrics instead of being controlled and sounding like I do on the record.
When you’re smoking blunts and drinking Jack Daniels every f###### night, I was blowing out my voice. A lot of the tour, I’d be rapping like this [hoarse voice], and it’s not supposed to sound like that. I was blowing my voice out for the first couple of years midway through the tour, but we’d still carry on because that’s not going to stop us from doing the shows. I’m just not going to sound that great. I got tired of sounding like s###, to be quite frank. I’d hear the recordings of some of our shows like “Damn, that s### sounds f##### up.” I don’t sound like I sound on the record. I’m overcompensating and yelling the verses, as opposed to saying them the way they’re on record.
Someone referred me to this vocal coach who was an opera singer, she’d train opera singers and regular singers. She taught me how to breathe differently and how to come from down here instead of up here to preserve my voice, then the breathing technique so I’m not struggling to push the line out. To get control and not scream the f###### words, but say them.
AllHipHop: What a life-changing moment.
B-Real: Oh yeah, it saved me for every tour after that. I never blew my voice out after that, but one time. That was a f###### freak accident.
AllHipHop: Have you ever forgotten your lyrics?
B-Real: Oh yeah, I’ve forgotten lyrics. It happens to the best of us. For me, it’s if I drink too much before a show, which I don’t do but I have. Maybe 3 times in my career, I had one too many drinks before the show and I forgot one word. It blanks out the rest of the s###. If one of the guys doesn’t bring you back, you’re standing there in silence. Until you look at the DJ like “yo…” But we’re from the show where you keep going. I learned that if that happens, I’ll freestyle until I get back on track and people will think I did something special there. But we as a group will know “oh, you f##### up.” We give each other the s### when that happens.
AllHipHop: A huge part of this show is mental health. How are you doing?
B-Real: I’m doing great. I’m always doing great. I have a positive outlook, I’m blessed. Tell yourself everyday: you’re enough! It’s what you tell yourself everyday that can set your path everyday or a negative. Plant that seed of positivity over everything else.
AllHipHop: In the aftermath of a shooting, a person may experience a number of symptoms that would be considered part of an acute stress disorder response or if they persist beyond one month of PTSD response. You were shot at 17 years old. Was there any type of trauma?
Yeah, there’s PTSD behind that in terms of the sound of the shots. But I was gangbanging at the time so I was on both ends of the gun. There were times where I was on the end giving it, and obviously on the end of taking it. When it’s an everyday thing, it’s not PTSD. You’re living it. You’re going through it, it’s second nature. When you get away from it, which I did with the music, with Cypress Hill — as I was leaving it, the sound of any pop would definitely put me on guard like “oh s###.” That kept around for about a year and a half.
With enough time on the road and focusing on the work, the shows, the responsibility of doing the promo, the interviews, the f###### videos, it took me out of that frame of mind whenever I heard something like that. It didn’t bother me so much anymore, but that first year and a half: any time I heard a pop, we gotta be on guard. And not for nothing: what people didn’t know at the time is we were all heavy carrying firearms on us. When we’d roll somewhere, we’d roll 15, 20 people deep and everybody had a f###### pistol on them. We’re like cowboys because we come from this certain culture and we know how s### is. Sometimes when you start doing good, your enemies don’t feel good for you. They’re not celebrating you. They’re looking at you like “we really want to get this m########### now.” We were always on guard. We’re packing heaters all the time back then, to stay safe.
AllHipHop: Has anyone outsmoked you?
B-Real: I’m not from this world. Nah, not yet.
AllHipHop: What are those Snoop Dogg sessions like?
B-Real: Thick smoke, but the thickest smoking sessions I ever have are with Berner. Deadass, straight up. We smoke out a studio. Because unlike any other person that I’ve been in the studio with, both of us will come with crazy jars and bags of weed. We’re constantly introducing each other to these different flavors. Whoever’s in the studio with us is like “oh s###, this is awesome.” Because we’re sharing with everybody, not just me and him smoking it up. We’re letting anyone that’s in there break up and roll up with us, so they can experience it as well. I gotta tell you the sessions with Berner, even over some of our Cypress Hill sessions, have been some of the smokiest f###### sessions I’ve ever been. Real talk.
AllHipHop: Berner’s a fire rapper too!
B-Real: Realistically, he’s a dope rapper too, and the beats that he picks are f###### slamming. The dude could have been an A&R at any record company. They should have swooped him up and put him in a position because the dude knows good music. Definitely knows good smoke too, that’s for sure.
AllHipHop: Speaking of legendary, we manifested the Cypress Hill vs. Onyx VERZUZ. Shout out to Fredro Starr.
B-Real: I knew it was going to happen the minute he said it. When someone like Fredro says that, it’s significant. Because that’s Onyx, come on we know that. He felt that’d be a good one for the people, and they’re going to get a good one I promise you that. There are similar things within our getdown. They’re all about energy, pumps, getting the crowd marching and stagediving like we do. They think that’d be a great matchup because of those aspects and those vibes. When I did the math, the minute I heard what he said, I’m like “this is happening.” It wasn’t a surprise to me. Alright, now let’s be ready to put that show on.
AllHipHop: Have you guys picked the songs yet?
B-Real: Our thoughts are in the game for sure, because we ain’t never in it to take #2 spot. [laughs] We’re crafting it. You got to, you got to give those dudes their respect. They got a strong getdown. You can’t underestimate anybody, especially from the 90’s golden era of hip hop who had hit songs that toured the world. They have music to stretches, you can’t ever underestimate that. What we are going to do is put on a good show for the m############ watching and the people watching the stream, because that’s what we do.
AllHipHop: How does it feel coming from where you came from, to now be owning multiple dispensaries?
B-Real: To be honest, when we were advocating and doing the music, we never thought about having a brand in cannabis. We just thought it should be legal. We’re going to talk about it because we believe that and we were living that, the advocacy of it. Getting educated on the freedom fighters, the people that’d talk about legalization. Jack Herer, Ed Rosenthal and many of the dudes that went to jail for a very long time because of the cannabis industry and what it was before. It is what it is now.
That gave us a little charge in the music. Coming into this industry, it gave us a little head start on game there. We knew it was possible for something like this to happen because we’ve seen what was happening in Amsterdam and thought “oh f###, if they’re doing it here, we could do this back home.” Sure enough, we’re proving and living in that right now. California is the place where all the best cannabis is, that’s hands down. From Northern California to Southern, from the indoor to the outdoor, we got the best cannabis in the f###### world. And we can lean on that.
AllHipHop: How bad are the taxes though?
B-Real: But our taxes are s###. Look, here’s what it is. The industry right now, before the corporations get involved, we should be creating a lobby group to bring those taxes down before those people create their lobby group to go bring the taxes down. Because if they do it, a lot of mom and pop businesses are going to get flushed out. The independent business with not the big financial backing, they’re going to get flushed out when that comes.
Once they get flushed out, those lobbyists are going to make it favorable to those corporations because that’s what they’re there for. Hey, go get these taxes down in our name, we’ll do this and that. They go and try to push this agenda. If our industry does it before them, they can control that part of it. But if they don’t and they let some other group do that, you’re going to be subject to whatever the regulations are that flush you out. That’s game right there. People can do what they want, but that’s what should happen before we allow them to do that.
AllHipHop: Who’s on your smoke bucket list?
B-Real: It was Willie Nelson, but I don’t know if he smokes anymore. I think he does edibles. I always heard that Rihanna smokes. I would like to have her in a Smokebox. I remember there was a picture of her out there one time breaking up some weed on her security’s head. I looked at that like s###, Rihanna gotta be in the Smokebox. That’s a wish list thing, she’s busy. She’s a busy person, so we’ll see.
AllHipHop: And she’s about to be a mama!
B-Real: And she’s about to be a mom, but I know she’s going to want to smoke one after all that. [laughs] I’ll give her the bag of flavors. We all know Dr. Greenthumb got the prescriptions all day. Miley Cyrus too, I’d have her in the Smokebox too. We used to call her Miley Cypress because we knew she smoked.
AllHipHop: Cypress Hill just went #1 on hip-hop charts. How does that feel?
B-Real: I didn’t expect it. I don’t think any of us expected it because we don’t expect s### like that. It just happens, because we’ve been sitting on this album for a while. Putting out the last one, we already had this one ready. We were tweaking it from that time to now. It feels good though. S###, 30 years later. We celebrated our 30 year anniversary as a group this year. From our first album, last year was the 30 year anniversary. We’re on 31. We were celebrating that so the following year, we were just putting out this f###### album. We weren’t expecting any charting because we know how this game works. This industry is a young man’s game, and our group’s been around 31 years now.
I’m 52 so the way it’s built is they put hip hop and rap in this young man’s game because they only know how to market and promote to young folks. People that grow with that group throughout the years, they get older and all of a sudden their lives change. They still like the music, but they don’t connect to it as quickly as they used to because no one knows how to market and promote to them. They only know how to promote to young folks. Radio, they follow suit to that s### too. Groups in my era, we rarely get the radio slots so you don’t expect to see that.
When our s### charted on Apple Music or iTunes hip hop chart, the first time I saw it it was at #3. I thought “oh s###, #3. Cool.” But I didn’t even expect that, then it popped to #1 and it held there for a while. It’s still holding up now. That goes to show you what these labels and radio stations have perpetuated as a young man’s game for this long, that’s b#######. Because even without their support, people made that #1 hip hop album over a lot of records that came out on that day. Salute to the people out there, because y’all did that. We just put out the record, but you all really did that.
AllHipHop: Last question, Cypress Hill recently got their Hollywood Walk of Fame. That must have been a surreal moment.
B-Real: It’s another thing we did not expect. Again as an artist, you don’t have any expectations of what they’re going to reward you with or any kind of accolades like that. You’re just making music and that represents you in the time you’re making that specific music. Your biggest thing is you wish that people accept it, or have the confidence that they will and that they’ll get it. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, but that’s the gamble of putting out music. Don’t worry about all the other s###, the only thing you worry about is if it connects. Because if it doesn’t connect, it’s back to the drawing board and starting over. But if it connects, you build off of that. We’ve managed to do that many times throughout our career and we’re going to continue to do that s###.