Cypress Hill, Cypress Hill (Rough House/Columbia Records)

South Central Los Angeles is a rough place, as any hip-hop listener from any socio-economic background knows. N.W.A. first showed us the reality of police and gang violence amid the tract homes of Compton, California. Now, straight outta Cypress Hill come B-Real and Sen-Dog, tour guides for a new trip through musical mean streets. Cypress Hill doesn’t flinch at the world they report on, and like N.W.A., Ice Cube, Ice T and other gangster rappers, they don’t distance themselves from it. They rhyme about smokin’ Buddha and smokin’ punks. In the first single, “How Could I Just Kill A Man,” B-Real outlines just what it takes to stay alive over a slamming beat and scorching guitar sample. Other standout cuts are “Stoned is the Way of the Walk,” which professes loudly the virtues of puffing herb, and “Pigs,” which explores ground first covered in N.W.A.’s “__ the Police,” venturing opinions on officers’ personal lives and job performance. The production is fat and funky, with lots of bluesy, soulful grooves over booming beats. The samples are fresh, although not particularly innovative. Vocally, the album is interesting, with B-Real’s nasal tone and Sen-Dog’s Spanglish adding to the formidable production. The overall sound of the recording is unique, mostly slow and blunted, but still funky and hard-core. Load the 12-gauge, twist a fatty and hit the streets with Cypress Hill. Just be glad you don’t have to live there.