West coast Hip-Hop has seemed to pick up it’s pace again in the last year or so with the help of newcomers such Blu, Jay Rock, and Crooked I being extremely viral with their artist marketing. But it’s the legends from the Left Coast that seem to keep it’s heart beating through the ups and downs. E-40, Cube, and any rapper affiliated with the Dogg Pound have all been present on the Hip-Hop scene in the last few, but one of the crews that have been noticeably absent is the cannabis loving, Latin Hip-Hop group Cypress Hill, who were just honored last year by VH1 on Hip Hop Honors.
Consequently, the group’s most distinguishable voice, B-Real is poised to drop his first solo effort in his 15+ years in the game, Smoke N Mirrors. The album while a far cry from his Cypress days production-wise, still maintains that hazy feel of a room infiltrated with second-hand blunt ashes. Muggs doesn’t show up with a beat on the entire album but the capable hands of The Alchemist, Soopafly, J-Turner and even B-Real himself take upon themselves to usher in the P-Funk.
B-Real make good on his initial solo outing. Instead of holding onto his past as a gangster in the streets, he comes off as more of an O.G. — spitting about the struggles and pitfalls of the hood to a younger audience. He willinging shares the mic with his protege Young De and fellow west coast legend XzibitOn the lead single “Don’t You Dare Laugh.” All three hold their own on the track while speaking on the California lifestyle. Unlike his veteran colleagues who seem to come off as bitter, B-Real proves successful when discussing the kids who try to get into the game riding off of hits instead of legitamite talent on songs like the “6 Minutes” and “10 Steps Behind.”
Delving into the meat of the LP, typical flair like reggae-tinged “Fire,” or “Dr. Hyphenstein,” where Snoop Dogga and few young’ns trade bars of Californication, remind the listener of a time when the rapper was a little more playful with his subject matter although it seems that he doesn’t feel quite as comfortable on those as the deeper material that is the majority of the album. While said tracks don’t match up with the stronger material on the album, it mostly due to the fact that the stronger material is more overbearing opposed to tracks coming across as weak. The production on the songs are top notch for an independent release and you’d be hard pressed to find too many verse that is lacking any kind of lyrical dexterity or focus.
Those not familiar with the Cypress Hill discography are not going to feel left out either. There’s plenty of Spanglish, Mary Jane references and Sen Dog even makes a quick appearance on the underwhelming “1 Life.” The Gunslinger sounds fairly hungry as any emcee trying to get some respect in this fickle Hip-Hop game now-a-days and Smoke N Mirrors steadily creeps through the fog.