Mar 23, 2010

Mike Schpitz Interviews Cypress Hill's Sen Dog For

When I first sent music to, I wasn't expecting much more than a post or two. After a few posts, they reached out to me to do an interview with the female hip-hop group, God-Des and She. The interview was well received from all parties and further opened the door and built relationships with BallerStatus and God-Des and She. I wasn't sure what other opportunities would arise from that interview, so naturally when I was asked to interview Sen Dog from Cypress Hill, I was not only surprised, but I was honored.
I recently spoke with Sen Dog, who is part of one of hip-hop's most respected and longest tenured groups. With a new video for "It Ain't Nothing"  and a new album, Rise Up, due out on April 20th, Sen Dog took some time out to talk with me about the album, Cypress Hill's new sound, album sales and how they has managed to stay together and continue to make music for over 20 years.
I wasn't sure what to expect from an artist with such accolades and accomplishments, especially having no experiencing interviewing anyone, but once again, to my surprise, Sen Dog was humble, down to earth, respectful and honest. I had a lot more questions to ask, but due to time restraints, I kept my questions centered on the new album.

Mike Schpitz: I saw the video for the single, "It Ain't Nothing", and I know you guys are gearing up to release your new album, Rise Up, tell us a little bit about the album and what can fans expect?
Sen Dog: The album is called Rise Up and it's gonna be out on April 20th. We have been working on this album for about two and a half years now. This project is a whole new era and a new playing field for Cypress Hill. We worked with a bunch of new artists, producers and musicians. The sound is really an advancement for Cypress Hill. It has a great feel, it's fun, aggressive at times, and definitely energetic. We worked with guys like Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine, Pete Rock, Mike Shinoda ... just a bunch of really talented people. The album is not as dark as our other records. It just has a really great feel. We're excited about it.
Mike Schpitz: How did you link up with the artists, producers and musicians on Rise Up?
Sen Dog: We reached out to some people, other people reached out to us as well. A lot of the artists we have personal relationships with and have known for years. Tom Morello, we have known since like 1993. Evidence and Alchemist, we have known since they were young cats, so it was easy linking up with them for the record. We got a lot of music from different people and just picked what we liked and made songs. Some of the music we made didn't make the album because of things like sample clearance or budget issues, but we got a great group of artists involved in this project.
Mike Schpitz: Are there any producers or features you worked with that didn't make the album? Or any people you wanted to work with but didn't get a chance?
Sen Dog: We worked with Slash from Guns 'N Roses, but because of sample clearances, that record didn't make the album. We are definitely going to keep working on that record to make sure we release it eventually.
Mike Schpitz: So I am assuming a tour is coming soon too! Where does the tour start, and what places are you planning on hitting?
Sen Dog: We are definitely working on scheduling dates. We have no officially tour scheduled yet but as the release gets closer we are going to get everything in order.
Mike Schpitz: Any big festivals like Lollapolooza, SXSW, Rock The Bells?
Sen Dog: We aren't gonna be at SXSW, but we have been a part of Lollapolooza and Rock The Bells in the past, so those are definitely going to be things that we look at. We want to make sure we play at some of the European summer festivals because they are really big deal with a lot incredible bands, so depending on those dates we will see what other American festivals we can be a part of. We are definitely going to set up an American tour soon.
Mike Schpitz: With the way album sales have been lately, are you guys concerned about how the album will do commercially, especially with the success you guys have had in the past?
Sen Dog: It is definitely a concern. We are in the business of selling records, so how well a record does is definitely important, but most of the pressure was on making the record. We wanted to make something that is sellable, that fans would want to purchase. After six years, we feel that we still want to prove that the skills and music quality hasn't diminished. Some people might think that after a six years, that the skills have fell off, so we just want to prove that nothing has changed and that we have gotten even better. I guess the sales and the demand will be seen in a few months, but we definitely feel good about the album and that there is still the demand for the record. The game has definitely changed with the Internet and everything, but we feel strongly that there is still that demand for the album because people have responded well every time.
Mike Schpitz: When making an album, what are some of the goals you guys set at the beginning of that process?
Sen Dog: We definitely discussed having a wide-open approach to this album. We didn't want to make a concept album. We just wrote to what we felt and what sounded good. We wanted to show some versatility that we could write to whatever sounded good. It's a clean slate and a new era for Cypress Hill. This is definitely some of the best music we have made.
Mike Schpitz: Let me switch gears a little. I still think Big Pun might be the nicest dude to ever touch a mic. Who are some of the most slept-on, Latin emcees? Joell Ortiz and Termanology seem to be slept-on in my opinion.
Mike Schpitz: Let me switch gears a little. I still think Big Pun might be the nicest dude to ever touch a mic. Who are some of the most slept-on, Latin emcees? Joell Ortiz and Termanology seem to be slept-on in my opinion.

Sen Dog: I have always enjoyed Kemo The Blaxican from Deliquent Habits. Also a West Coast group called the Illiterates. They got some clever rhymes as well.
Mike Schpitz: After 20 years in the game, you guys have managed to continue working together. How have you managed to keep it fresh and maintain good working relationships, especially when you see groups like Tribe, Fugees, Little Brother, RUN DMC, etc breaking up?
Sen Dog: For us, we were friends way before the music and the success. I have known B-Real since he was like 13 and I was 15 or 16, so the friendship has always been first. We spent every day together as kids, so that always comes first. Over the years it became like a bloodline and family with our families and us so, that helps keeps things in order. We respect each other as men and can bring any problems to each other. We both realize that we have something special and are a part of something that incredible, so we nurture that and continue to build that relationship as homeboys and with this music.
Mike Schpitz: Well I really appreciate your time and it has been an honor and a pleasure. So, are there any last words, shout outs? Tell everyone when the album drops, how to get a hold of you guys and when fans can see you again. You guys on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace?
Sen Dog: Rise Up is the name of the new album, it on drops April 20th. I want to shout out all the fans, everyone who has continued to support us throughout the years and anyone who has given a damn about us. You can find me on Facebook by my real name Senen Reyes. Also, catch me on MySpace at

For more information on Cypress Hill, go to their official website at
For more information on Mike Schpitz, go to his official website at

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