Cypress Hill "How I Could Just Kill a Man" (1991)
Album: Cypress Hill
Label: Ruffhouse Records
DJ Muggs: “Originally, it was to a different beat, and it was called ‘Trigger Happy Nigga.’ Back in the days, we would always do the songs at my house on a cassette 4-track. So we did it, and B-Real rapped the song, and one line in the song said, ‘Here is something you can’t understand/How I could just kill a man.’ But I didn’t pay too much [attention] to it.
“Time went on, and I made the ‘Kill a Man’ beat. And when I made that beat, he came to the house, and kicked the same ‘Trigger Happy Nigga’ rhyme, and I heard [the line], ‘Here is something you can’t understand/How I could just kill a man,’ and then he went right into the second verse. And I was like, ‘Hold up. That’s the hook right there.’ So we made that the hook.
“Then, Sen [Dog] had created this voice that we called the psycho-beta voice. It was kind of like Chuck D a little bit. Deep voice, baritone. And we flew that in, and I swear to God, we had a little 4-track demo driving around with that song, and it was like, yo, you felt the energy of the song.
“From the time we did that to the time we actually got our deal was probably a year. During that year of time, [I put in] the breakdowns in the middle, and all the little extra parts I added to the song.
The first single we wanted was ‘Hand on the Pump’ and ‘How I Could Just Kill a Man.’ The label was like, ‘No. We want ‘The Phuncky Feel One,’ and we’ll throw ‘Kill a Man’ on the b-side. So they shot the video for ‘Phuncky Feel One.’ Crickets.
"The record came out, we sold zero records in the first three months. But in New York, ‘Kill a Man’ started bubbling. It was getting played every day, so there was demand for the video.
“So we had two days off while we were on the Naughty by Nature tour, and we were in New York. So we shot the ‘Hand on the Pump’ video in Red Hook with Kevin Bray, and we shot the ‘Kill a Man’ video for 10 Gs in Manhattan with Shadi, David Perez. He walked around and shot it. It was just him, and one person with him. That was the whole crew.
“So, we happened to shoot one of the scenes down on Astor Place, and [Ice] Cube was in town, so Cube came down [to be in the video]. Q-Tip just happened to be walking by, and that’s why Q-Tip’s in there. And I didn’t know this, but Prodigy and Havoc [from Mobb Deep] were there, too. They were young, just in the crowd. Alchemist told me that.
“So that shit came out, and Dr. Dre and Ed Lover on Yo! MTV Raps had everyone running home from school to watch it. They were playing it two, three times a week. Plus, you had Video Music Box playing it, and the shit The Box, where you used to pay a dollar to play a video or whatever. And with that, it took off. That, and it being in the final scene in Juice, we started selling sixty, seventy thousand records a week. We went up the charts.
“Those were the days when it wasn’t about first week sales, it was about the legs of a record, and working the record for a year. From there, it took off, and everything else fell into place.
“[Also, I remember before the album was released], the demos went out early, and [EPMD] was on Columbia with us, because Def Jam was on Columbia. And we were at a club downtown, I forget which one, and we walked out, and we heard ‘Kill a Man’ bumping from a car across the street. And we looked over, and it was Erick Sermon. And we were like, ‘Damn!’ Because we were huge EPMD fans. They were a super big influence on us.”