High Times at the 2009 Smokeout Festival
High Times at the 2009 Smokeout Festival

Cypress Hill is finishing its first studio album in five years and planning a fall release on Suburban Noize Records, according to the group's B-Real.

"We're mixing right now," B-Real, who just released his first solo album, "Smoke N Mirrors," tells Billboard.com. He describes the rap troupe's new music as "gritty. It's aggressive. It's like hip-hop straight-up. We just felt like we needed to go back to that raw, gritty hip-hop sound but try to find a way to bridge it with what's going on now."

B-Real says Cypress Hill worked with pals Everlast, Evidence and The Alchemist on the as-yet-untitled album, but he didn't anticipate many other guests. "We don't really do a lot of collaborations in Cypress. We keep it in house." The group members have been mostly working on their own projects since 2004's "Til Death Do Us Part" and a split with Columbia Records, their longtime label home.

B-Real says he's been working on "Smoke N Mirrors" for the better part of three years, coming up with 40 songs -- 15 of which are on the album, the rest used for three "The Gunslinger" mixtapes he released between 2005-2007.

"It was different," he says of working solo on "Smoke N Mirrors," which features from Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Buckshot, Damian Marley, Too $hort, Kurpt, Cypress Hill mate Sen Dog and B-Real's protege Young De. "We're used to working with each other (in Cypress Hill), bouncing ideas off each other. This one I had to carry on my back, on my own. But I like challenges, so it wasn't that bad at all. I don't really get periods where I can't come up with an idea that I want to use. What needs to click will click."

B-Real plans to do some solo shows to support "Smoke N Mirrors" and also hopes to develop some new artists on his Audio Hustlaz label, concentrating first on Young De after finishing the Cypress Hill album. He also sees the possibility of Cypress Hill showcasing some of the members' solo material when it tours to promote the new album.

"Yeah, there's plenty of music to be done," B-Real says. "So we can get out there and pull off the live show at any point and maybe incorporate some of our solo work in there. That would be dope."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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