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The 100 Best L.A. Rap Songs

36. Cypress Hill "Hand On The Pump" (1991)

Album: Cypress Hill
Label: Ruffhouse, Columbia, SME
Producer: DJ Muggs


The real heads say “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” the masses say “Insane In the Brain,” but in the opinion of this writer the quintessential Cypress Hill song is “Hand on the Pump.” Here are the reasons.

Sen Dog: “Put me in chains, try to beat my brains/I can get out but the grudge remains.” The group's best nonsensical hook: “I'm headed up the river with a boat and no paddle/And I'm handin' out beat downs!” In two lines, the chorus exemplifies the spirit of Cypress Hill, specifically the pairing of marijuana hedonism with casual violence, and B-Real's adenoidal chants with Sen Dog's constipational callbacks.

But most of all, this track is quintessential is for its incorporation of Gene Chandler's “Duke of Earl,” an all-time favorite of East L.A. lowriders. The way that DJ Muggs rigs a tensile drum pattern to the golden sheen of doo-wop is the perfect symbol for how Cypress re-armed the L.A. Chicano tradition without sacrificing any of the local flavors.

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