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Cypress Hill get ready for London Symphony Orchestra gig – almost 30 years after The Simpsons ‘prophecy’ | Ents & Arts News

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In 1996, US hip-hop stars Cypress Hill sent themselves up in an episode of The Simpsons, accidentally booking a gig with the London Symphony Orchestra “possibly while high”.

While it might have seemed an unlikely collaboration at the time, The Simpsons has gained a reputation for being eerily good at predicting the future, and the rappers have long had classical influences and the drive to push boundaries with their music.

So now, after much demand from fans and talk on social media over the years, it’s finally happening – Cypress Hill will perform with the world famous orchestra tonight at the Royal Albert Hall in London, playing hits including Insane In The Brain and I Wanna Get High from their seminal second album Black Sunday, plus more from their back-catalogue.

Cypress Hill are due to perform with London Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hill - after the collaboration was pictured in The Simpsons almost 30 years ago. Pic: Eitan Miskevich
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Cypress Hill rose to fame in the 1990s and became one of the world’s biggest hip-hop acts. Pic: Eitan Miskevich

Ahead of the gig, rappers B-Real and Sen Dog, along with DJ Lord, told Sky News it will be “probably one of the biggest moments” in the group’s history.

“We’ve done some pretty damn big gigs, but this is with some of the best musicians in the world,” says B-Real, whose real name is Louis Freese. “So, yeah, we’re excited.” And the Royal Albert Hall is also a bucketlist venue to play. “We’ve played a lot of historical venues throughout our 32 years of making music… this is one of the places that as a hip-hop artist, you don’t expect… so that’s another thing we’re honoured by, is that we’re not only playing with the LSO, but we’re playing in their house – the most prestigious place to play.”

Cypress Hill have sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, with Black Sunday regularly cited as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, and have three Grammy nominations plus a star on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame. They rose to prominence as pioneers of the West Coast hip-hop scene in the 1990s, standing out with a mix of English and Spanish lyrics and B-Real’s nasal rapping style, as well as for being vocal “activists, advocates, connoisseurs and consumers” of cannabis years before it was legalised in many US states.

It was a “taboo” subject when they started rapping about it, they say. “Hopefully [in the] next five, six years we’ll see legalisation here in England, that would be awesome.”

Cypress Hill in The Simpsons, back row from left: Sen DOG, Deejay Muggs, B-Real, with Homer Simpson in front, in the Homerpalooza episodes in season seven in 1996. Pic: 20th Century Fox Film Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection/Shutterstock
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The Simpsons imagined it almost 30 years ago… now it’s happening in real life. Pic: 20th Century Fox Film Corp/Everett Collection/Shutterstock

When they appeared in The Simpsons, in an episode titled Homerpalooza, the joke was they had accidentally booked a gig with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) while under the influence at a festival. “Somebody ordered” the LSO, a crew member calls. “Possibly while high… Cypress Hill, I’m looking in your direction.” It leads to a rendition of Insane In The Brain, complete with the classic orchestral backing.

A cameo in The Simpsons showed how famous the band had become. But back then, the orchestra collaboration was simply a “cool idea” for an episode; the band members didn’t envision it actually happening in real life. But when they tweeted a “what if?” clip a few years ago, the conversation was started on social media.

‘These are the elite musicians of the world’

The London Symphony Orchestra are due to play with Cypress Hill at the Royal Albert Hall - after the collaboration was pictured in The Simpsons almost 30 years ago. Pic: John Davis
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The hip-hop act say they are ‘honoured’ to play with the London Symphony Orchestra. Pic: John Davis

They were due to begin their first rehearsal with the orchestra only yesterday afternoon, which doesn’t seem like much time – but they performed a few symphony shows in the US last year as their “path” to the Royal Albert Hall, and seem relaxed about playing together for the first time less than 48 hours before the gig. The LSO themselves have promised it will be “an unforgettable musical moment”.

“We feel confident that on our end we’re definitely ready to deliver,” says B-Real. “And we know these are the elite musicians of the world, so we know they’ll be ready.”

Sen Dog (real name Senen Reyes) grew up listening to classical music through his father, who would play the works of composers such as Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

“It crept into my subconscious to where now I’ll seek it out on my own and listen to it when I’m in the car or I’m at home relaxing, whatever,” he says. “So it’s not like something completely out of left field, per se, but doing Cypress Hill with it there’s definitely a different twist.”

“I actually listen to classical music more often these days than ever,” says B-Real, who became interested in the music of Mozart, Chopin and Haydn as a young adult. “Not in relation to what we’re doing, it’s just having an appreciation for it. We started off as hip-hop artists, this is what we love to do, the roots of our existence. But we’ve always challenged ourselves to be out of the box and do different things… to be able to be crossing over into [classical] is amazing.”

He thanks musician and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, who founded the Lollapalooza festival, which in turn inspired the Simpsons episode. “And thanks to The Simpsons for writing us into that episode to allow us to do what we’re doing.”

Simpsons Trump prediction: ‘This is the biggest job in America’

Donald Trump. Pic: Reuters
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Donald Trump. Pic: Reuters

The Simpsons has become famous for predicting the future, from correct Super Bowl outcomes to video calling. But the most well-known seeming prophecy was the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016 – which could well happen again later this year.

How do they feel about the upcoming US election?

“In my opinion, two senior citizens shouldn’t be allowed to run for president,” says B-Real – Trump is 78, while Joe Biden is 81. “From [age] 45 to 65, that should be the criteria. Like the way that, at least in America, the major organisations or corporations always look to retire their CEOs at 65, whether they want to or not.

“This is the biggest job in America. Why would we be allowing guys in their 80s when they would be retired in whatever corporations they were CEOs of at that point? It’s just ridiculous. I think we need a structural change in our political system… There’s a lot of problems going on back home, but since before we were born, it’s always an ongoing thing with politics. You know, and I don’t trust any of them, to be honest with you.”

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The age bracket of 45 to 65 is one they all fit into now… “Yeah, I could totally run,” B-Real laughs. “But would you vote for me? is the question. Maybe if I go out there and say the most ridiculous things, I’ll get the votes. Because that’s what it seems like these days. The most ridiculous things you could say, doesn’t even have to be based off facts, you know? It’s pretty mind-blowing what people are buying into these days.”

For now though, they’re not thinking about politics. Just their Simpsons prophecy coming true.

“Amazing. Incredible. Timeless,” says B-Real, summing up what to expect from the show. DJ Lord promises a “good time”, while Sen Dog adds: “Expect the unexpected.”

Cypress Hill with the London Symphony Orchestra takes place at the Royal Albert Hall tonight



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