Cypress Hill's Sen Dog: Solo Entry

South Gate, CA rapper Senen Reyes aka Sen Dog was first introduced to the rap world as a part of the Cypress Hill in the early 90’s. On occasion Sen Dog would step out to the forefront on tracks like “Latin Lingo,” however his main role was to be B-Real’s backup by using his deep grizzly voice to counter-balance the nasal delivery of the Cypress’ front man. After nearly two decades in the rap game and over 17 million albums sold worldwide, Sen Dog is now stepping out of the shadows and taking a step to the forefront by releasing his solo debut Diary of a Mad Dog on September 30th. Sen Dog took the time out of his schedule while touring with Cypress Hill to talk to us about the new album, the transition from group member to solo artist, coming out of his shell and his recovery from a recent heartache that has caused him to change his lifestyle. After being in the rap game since the early 90’s, you have now finally decided to drop a solo album. Why did that take so long?Sen Dog: Being with Cypress Hill, the juggernaut that it is and with all of the touring, there was never much time for it. Later on when I started my rock band SX-10, I dedicated myself fully to that. To be honest I never really wanted to be a solo artist, I’ve always enjoyed being in a group or a band. About a year ago we weren’t doing much with Cypress because we were in the process of finishing our contract with Sony and changing management. There was a lot of turmoil within the band and so my personal manager Kevin Zinger, the owner of Suburban Noize Records, asked me to give him a record for his company while Cypress was going through its things. I felt that it was a good idea and decided to do it, so I started working on that record. Through all of the years you’ve never had a desire to do anything solo?Sen Dog: Naw man. The way I see it, I’m from Cypress Hill. But there’s always more music in me than what I’ve ever put down on a Cypress record. I’ve always got other ideas. I am sure that every musician that is in a band situation does. The same goes for B-Real, Bobo and Muggs. That’s why we all do side projects. There is always more to give an audience and the record buying public than what you are known for. On your press sheet it mentions that you came out of your shell for this album. Was that hard for you to do?Sen Dog: It was definitely. I am a shy person by nature. When I was a youngster, I was extremely shy. I’ve always had this love for Hip-Hop though. When we started Cypress, there was still a shyness. That’s why I had to wear f**kin’ hats all of the way down my face, so nobody could see me trembling [laughs]. It was definitely a coming out of sorts and it’s very exciting. I’ve never felt what I am feeling about this record – not even towards a Cypress album. It’s definitely me coming out of my shell, with me being on out there on the stage by myself and my DJ. I don’t have the comfort zone of having a B-Real out on the stage when I do my solo stuff. This is helping me become more of my own artist. How was it doing your own song crafting? With Cypress Hill, B-Real does most of the rapping.Sen Dog: That was probably the most difficult challenge. When we are in the studio as Cypress Hill, we all have ideas so there is never a shortage of ideas going around. Recording by myself was like, “Ok. Let’s take a two hour break because my brain is numb right now.” The process would take a little bit longer than with the group but it was a definite educational process for me. You end up finding out that if you reach deep down, you can come up with something special when the pressure is on. Before I had the luxury of thinking, “B-Real will think of some hot sh*t.” Now it’s all on me. As I got into the album, things started to come more naturally. I noticed that you stuck to your own group of people as far as features on the album is concerned. Most debuting soloists would try to grab the biggest names out. Why did you avoid doing that?Sen Dog: I’ve got a lot of friends that are big-time but I don’t really hang with them. The guys that are on my records are the guys that I hang with everyday; that are there for me on a constant everyday basis. The guys that are on the record, I felt that they deserved a shot at being on a record that’s to actually get out and be in a record store. I really wanted my first record to have an authenticity to it to where you could tell that these are the cats that I roll with, instead of having like a Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Ludacris or whoever else that are good people and down to record and jam. I felt that this would be an honest approach. You’ve got a little bit of everything on this album – even some Techno on your song “Fumble.” Will your fans accept that from you?Sen Dog: I think so. I had the track to “Fumble” sitting around for a few months and it really didn’t do anything to me. One day I was going through a bunch of CD’s just trying to find something that I might have looked over. I ended up giving that track another listen. This time I was in a better state of mind and a higher state of mind if you know what I mean. It just jumped out at me. I also heard changes format-wise that I had to make to it. I wrote the song and then later on when I went in to the studio to lay down the lyrics, I formatted it to how I wanted it. The track was way more ill-sounding and techno-sounding then what actually made the record. I was listening to that song on the album called “Backing Up My Gang.” I don’t recall you ever speaking on things like what actual gang set you are from. Sen Dog: That’s a part of my life. I am not an active gang member anymore but that was a part of my life that I found to be special because that was the foundation of the early success of what we were rapping about – the experiences that we lived. I was hanging out with one of my bro’s from back then; a really talented MC named J-Killa and I put him on the song. He’s known and his neighborhood looks up to him still. He was like, “You should do something for all of the B-Dog’s and let people know where you are from and what you’ve done.” There are people that don’t know that about me and they will find it interesting. We went into the studio and did the song. When you get in there with J-Killa you start to feel a little rowdy [laughs]. I’m glad that we did that song because it’s a part of my history that I’ve never documented. It will give you an insight to my history and background.

“My body just said, ‘Ok. I’ve had enough of this s**t. I’m shutting down.’ I went in and they told me that I had a slight heart attack.” The album is called Diary of a Mad Dog. According to this press sheet you came up with that name because you were going through some personal problems. It even mentions a heart attack that you had. Are you ok?Sen Dog: I am fine. I survived that. It was all about the way that I was living as far as not exercising and not sleeping very good – drinking – constantly drinking and everything that goes with that. I had some stressful things going on with my personal family. It just got to the point where all of the abuse that I was putting on myself, physically and mentally, caught up to me. My body just said, “Ok. I’ve had enough of this s**t. I’m shutting down.” I went in and they told me that I had a slight heart attack. They kept me in because one of my arteries was like 95 percent closed. They had to go in and do the whole angioplasty procedure and open my artery. I spent about 10 days in the hospital. This happened during the making of the album. I had already finished like six or seven songs. I started to get a groove with the album and that just took me down. After that experience I went and wrote that song “Fumble.” The hook goes, “What went wrong? Where did I stumble? I had a touch down but I must have fumbled.” You have everything and then you can lose it all. Before you know it, I’m laying up in this bed at the hospital with I.V. in my arms. I was wondering to myself, “How did this happen?” So now that you have this solo album done, what is next for you?Sen Dog: My rock group SX-10 has a new album done. It’s produced by a guy named Matt Hyde who is a real good rock producer. The album features B-Real, Bobo, my brother Mellow Man Ace, Zach Wild plays guitar on there, and Star Scream the DJ for Slipknot is on it also. I’ve been a part of some successful records, but to me, the new SX-10 album is the best record that I have ever made in my life.

“We are about 25 songs into our new album. It’s one of my favorite Cypress records in a long time... We worked with DJ Premier, Mike Shinoda, The Alchemist, DJ Muggs and B-Real’s producing crew The Audio Hustlaz.” Better than all of the platinum selling Cypress Hill records?Sen Dog: Yes, to me. It’s the best record that I’ve ever made. I am not saying that it’s better than any of the Cypress Hill records. I am just saying to So what’s going with Cypress Hill these days?Sen Dog: We are about 25 songs into our new album. It’s one of my favorite Cypress records in a long time. We are using a whole bunch of different producers now. We worked with DJ Premier, Mike Shinoda, The Alchemist, DJ Muggs and B-Real’s producing crew The Audio Hustlaz. All the way around it’s just a fun record. It’s like a new era and beginning for us. The way that we’ve opened it up production-wise is a positive for the band. We haven’t picked a name yet but there are a few names that are being tossed around. It should be out the first quarter of next year.