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Interview with Bobo of Cypress Hill
6/11/04 - interview by Dante (click for 2nd interview)


Eric Bobo Cypress Hill picture

Born the son of Puerto Rican parents in New York, Cypress Hill member Bobo simply had music in his blood.


His father William Correa, better known as Willie Bobo, was one of the innovators of Latin Jazz. His family moved from New York to Cali, where Bobo performed with his father at an early age and would later find himself learning from other Latin Jazz greats like Tito Puente.

Bobo's percussion work while on tour with the Beastie Boys in '92 led to his meeting with Cypress Hill, since then he has been down with the Hill and has made a myriad of guest appearances on albums of different musical genres.  Bobo took time out to chop it up with about his upcoming solo album, being part of Cypress, and how he's taking music back to the essence. What's the word on your new album?

Its been a long time coming, its on the Latin Jazz tip with a bit of Hip Hop contemporary flavor. Latin Jazz, Latin music in general is where I'm from, you know my background. I just felt like it was time to come full circle.


I played with a lot of artists, doing stuff with Cypress, I went into the Hip Hop realm. With respect to my background, I thought it was time to get it back to where it all started, take what I learned and apply it. One thing I learned from my dad was how to merge music, and how music is the universal language.

Speaking of your father, he was a known musical figure. Did he have any influence on the type of music that you are doing today?

I think it's a big influence because he basically showed me the way. He showed me the road, enlightened me to different music and arts, broadened my ears to what was out there. Definitely it was like a history lesson.

My realm hasn't changed, my place in Latin music hasn't changed, if anything I know how to apply what I did with other artists to my thing. How to make it contemporary enough that younger people are gonna like it, older people are gonna like it and understand.


Me being with Cypress and doing things with the Beastie Boys, a lot of younger people know of me, and older people know of my family. Its about bridging the demographic. Its like you do hip hop, you get a certain demographic, you do jazz you get a certain demographic, I'm trying to broaden that out.

Outside of the obvious percussion work, how does being Latin fit in with your music. Do you feel as though you should rep for Latin artists in Hip Hop?

Its not that I feel the need to do it, I just do it because that's who I am. With that being so, it just comes out. I think Latins in music and Latin music in general have really come such a long way. I think its important for other Latinos out there, no matter what they do, to forge forward into doing what they do and the best that they can. Really making a strong representation of us, because we've been underdogs for so long, we gotta be at the "A" list at some point.


What I'm doing, what other Latinos are trying to accomplish, what Cypress is doing, we're really trying to push forward. Now its time for everyone to get on their "A" game, and really go through it. Its not necessary to shove it down peoples throats, LATIN LATIN LATIN LATIN. It kind of to me makes a bigger impact than trying to force feed me, when they like the music, and then say, ‘oh sh*t, he's Latin?'

Cypress Hill has sold millions of albums. Do you feel that this raises the expectations that people will have of your own album?

I think so in a way, I think its also a high level of curiosity too. ‘Cause not everyone knows what I'm gonna drop, how its gonna come. But its almost like you have this platform that Cypress has built, and people expect that what you do is going to be of that same quality. It would be a disappointment if you do something and it doesn't hold its own weight.


So there is gonna be expectations of that, if it doesn't meet that, there would be backlash. In the same respect, I think that it would be more difficult to try to emulate exactly what cypress has done, musically that's why I have to do something that is different. If B-Real did a solo album, he has a lot that he has to do with the fact that he's done with Cypress, people gonna expect that same level.


Each and every one of our endeavors is gonna be like that. I know how I wanna come out and how I wanna hit people, it just has to be done. Yeah its gonna be pressure in that respect, but its not pressure that I'm afraid of confronting.

So when does your debut album drop?

We're looking at probably November release, later on in the year, the latest would be January. But right now I'm about 65% done with it, and with the time scheduling, touring, doing stuff with Cypress, so I'm trying to keep it on that schedule. I will tour for it and hit the world with it.

Describe your debut solo album for us in your own words.

The album is like a smorgasbord of rhythms, beats, influences. Its like a big melting pot of music and inspirations that I've grown up with, I just think that it's a little something for everybody. People old and young are gonna be able to relate to this record. I think a lot of music right now is stagnant, people just cloning what other people are doing, so no one is putting out anything any different.


I think that my album is gonna be like a breath of fresh air. Start a whole new way of making music and kinda like bringing it back to how we used to do it in the old days: not trying to emulate anyone but trying to make your own road. I think it will be an inspiration to people trying to do their own stuff.

Who are you collaborating with?

Right now, I'm looking at possibly doing something with Tito Puente, jr.. His father and my father worked together way back in the day. Definitely some Cypress, B-Real, Sen Dog, possibly Mellow Man Ace. Right now helping me with producing is Mario Caldato, a producer for the Beastie Boys.


Looking to do a track or two with DJ Premier and The Alchemist. Basically a lot of different musicians, maybe some jazz musicians as well, do their voice. My band is kind of assembled to go in there and do it, should be a nicely well rounded album.

Since you mentioned that most new music is stagnant, what is the distinction between yourself and other artists?

I think bringing the musicianship back into the fold, I think my school of thought is basically a bit of the old school mixed out with the new. That's what I grew up with. I grew up listening to old time, listening to jazz artists that made 6 albums in a year, their work ethic, how they worked, how they went into the road, forged out in different directions. I'm going to do that. I'm not trying to emulate anyone, copy what my father did, but do some of the things that my father did, make my own road.


If there is one hit on the radio, record companies are trying to emulate that same hit and use that same hit, so it really isn't hard to copy somebody. With me its gonna be a breath of fresh air, rhythms, harmonies. Bringing back that sound, the musicianship is gonna open people's eyes. Like, okay, this is how this was done. Not having to rely on sitting in a chair, doing a little programming, but having true collaborations, having musicians show their real musicianship.


Music is there to be created, you have to use your creativity to make it work. Its not gonna make any sense to make artists rehash their sound by copying it for three or four albums, people want to watch it progress.

Since you work in different genres, if you could do a collaboration with any artist of any genre that you haven't already worked with, who would it be?

I'd like to do something with like a Herbie Hancock.... I'd like to do something with the Latin group called Orishas. I'd like to do stuff with some rock artists. If I were to something with Jimmy Page, to make something different, that would be incredible. You taking two people on opposite sites of the spectrum and putting them together.

What are you working on outside of the music right now?

Right now I'm just finishing editing the Bobo Sessions, which is like a tutorial on percussion. My first gig, I was with my dad and I was 5 years old, I learn by watching and listening. Its gonna be a feel thing, people get their feeling and their flow. That should be coming out later in the year.


Basically like interested in scoring for film, I have an itch to do stuff for film, I like to do stuff behind the camera. I enjoy film, to be able to do stuff like that would be great. Just recently did a commercial for Nike, I did the music for [a commercial for] all of Latin America, it featured Ronaldinho from Brazil, it was directed by Spike Jones. I was never taught in a class, it was on-the-job training.

Sen Dog took time out to do his music with SX-10, will going solo take away your time from Cypress?

I will definitely try to put the same amount of time into Cypress as I always have. It's kinda hard because with doing something new, this being my solo album, I have to put a lot of energy into it. [With] Cypress, I can go in and get things done quick, but its gotta be a thing of timing. I plan to do Cypress as long as Cypress is around. I started with them since late ‘92, its 2004, I plan to be there. But its important that they see how important this project is to me.

In closing, what has been the high point of your experience with Cypress Hill?

I would have to say doing Woodstock ‘94. It was always a dream of mine to perform in front of a sea of people that you cant even see past the halfway point. To be able to do things like that, that was a big thing for me, that was like fulfilling a dream I may never do again. Even beyond that, to be able to perform all over the world, to be able to touch peoples hearts with the music.


Being able to do that has been great because I've always wanted to be a musician, I've always wanted to perform, that's always been my thing. With Cypress, I've always been able to fulfill a lot of my dreams, all in all its been an incredible ride. If it was to end today, I would be able to take all that with me and be happy and be content that I accomplished something.

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