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CLASSIC TRACKS: Cypress Hill ‘Insane In The Brain’

Released: 1993 • Producer: Cypress Hill • Engineer: Joe Nicolo
Published December 2018
By Tom Doyle

Cypress Hill. From left to right: Sen Dog, B‑Real and DJ MuggsCypress Hill. From left to right: Sen Dog, B‑Real and DJ MuggsPhoto: Getty/Lynn Goldsmith

Cypress Hill's crossover classic launched the group into the mainstream — and without sampling a single horse...

Thanks to its distinctive bounce‑along beat, James Brown grunts, horse‑like percussive neighs and rappers B‑Real and Sen Dog's tongue‑twisting rhymes, Cypress Hill's 1993 hit 'Insane In The Brain' is rightly renowned as one of the landmark tracks in the history of hip‑hop. The first single taken from the group's second (and subsequently US number one) album Black Sunday, it was the dementedly catchy crossover hit that brought Cypress Hill to the attention of a wider audience of alternative rock as well as hip‑hop fans.

But Cypress Hill's turntablist, beatmaker and producer DJ Muggs is surprisingly honest today as he looks back on 'Insane In The Brain'. "Y'know, it wasn't my favourite record on the album," he admits, "but it definitely had to be the single. That's when you have to know your shit, like, OK, this is the right record to push. It isn't my favourite, but this is the right record right now."

Classic Tracks'Insane In The Brain' definitely caught the mood of the early '90s, when alternative rock was going slacker and stoner, neatly mirroring Cypress Hill's open endorsement of marijuana in other Black Sunday tracks such as 'I Wanna Get High' and 'Hits From The Bong'. This was hip‑hop with party‑starting energy and cartoonish humour, in stark contrast to the punchy political messages of Public Enemy or the proto gangsta rap of NWA. Which made Cypress Hill stand out all the more.

"From the very beginning, I just thought they were the shit, man," says Joe 'The Butcher' Nicolo, the producer and record company owner who signed Cypress Hill to his label Ruffhouse and also mixed the trio's tracks. "I thought they were great. Y'know, there was just really nothing like this..."


One of Cypress Hill's unique selling points was their classic rock...

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Published December 2018