Cypress Hill/Goats | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Cypress Hill/Goats



This is a showcase for a couple of the militant successors to Public Enemy's ground-breaking political albums of the late 1980s. Cypress Hill's bruising attack on the police, "Pigs," and their even more scathing essay on homicide, "How I Could Just Kill a Man," are both marked by a clear-eyed political sensibility that rescues the group from the antihumanity of certain hardcore rappers. On the band's debut album the songs come declaimed over a hard everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to sound design; it's not quite as busy (or as conceptually brilliant) as the Bomb Squad's work with PE, but the band makes up for it with a sampling coup like the "Duke of Earl" cop on "Hand on the Pump." The Goats' sound is a bit more open, and they're punkier and even more political: the conceit of their debut album, Trick of the Shade, is a somewhat brutal framing tale about a character named Chickenhead and his brother, the result of an aborted abortion named Hangerhead. They journey through an America-as-circus-sideshow landscape, pass concessions like the Noriega Coke Stand and Uncle Scam's Shoot the Asian Shooting Gallery. In between chapters of the story come the songs. Sometimes the sloganeering choruses ("I'm not your typical American," "Burn the fucking flag") overshadow the more sophisticated raps on this extremely prolix album. (They also sometimes overshadow the less sophisticated ones: "Brothers with the gats ... Rat a tat tat / Bush's head will splitter splat.") But most of the time they rock out, like on "Do the Digs Dug?" (Mission Impossible theme meets "I'm Losing You") and "Cumin' in Ya Ear" (their voices, they mean). Also on the bill: Funkdoobiest. Sunday, 7 and 10 PM, China Club, 616 W. Fulton; 466-0400 or 466-0812.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Miller.

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