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Stoned Raiders ()

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Ten years after the release of their first album, Cypress Hill have maintained a distinctive personality that has stuck around through several different musical directions. Never a band that has been afraid to experiment, the rock-rap sound they attempted on Skull & Bones is again one of the driving forces of the album. Where on that release they attempted to separate the tracks into the rap and rock sides, they just keep it all in the same mix here. Another huge difference between the two records is the quality of their rock-raps compared to their regular hip-hop sound. The biggest problem with Skull & Bones was that the rock songs were missing strong hooks, keeping them from being a successful blend of the two genres. But on Stoned Raiders, the rock songs are some of the strongest tracks. The best song on the entire album might be "Bitter," a brooding slow-burner that shows B Real laying down disjointed rhymes over shuffling jazz drums and strummed surf guitar. Other notable rock tracks include "Amplified," a Rage Against the Machine knockoff that features some subpar rhyming from Sen Dog but a catchy chorus, and the opener "Trouble," which utilizes Roni Size-esque percussion with trippy guitar courtesy of Fear Factory's Christian Olde Wolbers. The percussion is actually one of the standouts of the record; DJ Muggs and live drummer Bobo do a meticulous job of finding unique beats for the record. Unfortunately, many of the hip-hop tracks do not come near to the rock songs. There are a few exceptions, especially toward the beginning of the album. "Southland Killers" is a great duet between B Real and MC Ren; in fact, Ren contributes his best rhymes since N.W.A's Niggaz4life. And "Kronologik" is a spellbinding retelling of Cypress Hill's history that adds some clever insight into some of the notable events in their career. But many of the other rap songs simply do not have the beats or the choruses to keep them interesting, a problem that would seem unthinkable considering how incredibly unique and catchy their first two albums are. The biggest disappointment is "Red, Meth & B," a collaboration between Redman, Method Man, and B Real that has a fairly interesting beat but reveals a surprising lack of chemistry between the three. Overall, Stoned Raiders is a good album despite its varying quality, and should appeal to those who enjoyed their previous album's experiments with rock. ~ Bradley Torreano, Rovi Hide synopsis

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