The 40 Biggest Hip-Hop Moments in Pop Culture History

21. Cypress Hill Lights Up, Becomes the First Rap Act to Be Banned by SNL

Date: October 2, 1993

The Moment: The first critically and commercially successful Latino hip-hop group was on the rise with the release of their second album—and what would remain the crowning achievement of their career—Black Sunday. On SNL, the group delivered a so-so performance of "Insane in the Brain." For the second song, after being introduced by that week's host, Shannon Doherty, Cypress Hill launched into "I Ain't Going Out Like That," except with a side-note from DJ Muggs: "Yo, New York City, they said I couldn't light my joint, you know what I'm saying?" [Takes hit from joint.] "Well, we ain't going out like that!" [Takes even harder hit from joint.] The group then kicked off a riveting performance, and destroyed a few of the instruments on set before they were done.

The Impact: Here's a little background: Apparently, they didn't light up just because they were Cypress Hill (a totally plausible theory otherwise, though). To hear DJ Muggs tell it, the producers kept whispering into the in-ear monitors of the group, telling them not to light any joints on stage. And kept telling them. And kept telling them. Apparently, they told them one time too many. As soon as Muggs sparked up, the phones at NBC starting ringing: As many middle schoolers and high schoolers were thrilled, there were pissed off parents in equal proportion. Moral outrage or not, Saturday Night Live showrunner Lorne Michael had a strict anti-drug policy in place, at least as far as the workplace was concerned. They were informed that they were banned from Saturday Night Live for good. Needless to say, they made a few Monday morning newspapers, too.

The Upshot: You can't watch the clip on NBC's site, but it made its way into legend on the Internet. While the rest of the group might've been upset with Muggs, it launched them into a special kind of infamy: the small group of guests who have been banned by SNL for life, which has included at various times Sinead O'Connor, Elvis Costello, Chevy Chase, Martin Lawrence, Milton Berle, and the Replacements. "I Ain't Going Out Like That" was nominated for a Best Rap Song Grammy. Cypress Hill kept making albums, none as memorable as Black Sunday, but they had later hits. SNL is still on today, and hasn't banned any other rap acts since.

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