Hip-hop act Cypress Hill make 28-year-old Simpsons joke come true

By Colin Paterson, Entertainment correspondent

grey placeholder20thCentFox/Everett/Shutterstock Cypress Hill and Homer Simpson20thCentFox/Everett/Shutterstock

Homer Simpson and Cypress Hill in the prescient episode, called Homerpalooza

It was back in 1996 when an episode of The Simpsons featured a joke where Cypress Hill believed they had mistakenly booked the London Symphony Orchestra, whilst under the influence.

On Wednesday night, that joke becomes a reality at the Royal Albert Hall.

After years of fan pressure, the American hip-hop group reached out to the LSO over social media and a deal was struck.

The one-night only performance in London is based around their acclaimed Black Sunday album. It sold more than three million copies in the US and spent a whole year on the UK charts.

The LSO will perform unique orchestral arrangements of the band’s most iconic songs including Insane in the Brain and I Wanna Get High.

Cypress Hill have sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and are one of hip-hop’s biggest acts.

Insane in the brain

grey placeholderGetty Images Cypress Hill members Sen Dog (L), DJ Muggs (2-L), Eric Bobo and B-Real (R) pose at their just unveiled Hollywood Walk of Fame Star during a ceremony in Hollywood, California on April 18, 2019Getty Images

Cypress Hill were the first rap group to be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

I went to meet the band at their rehearsals in central London.

“It’s been something that we’ve talked about for many years since the Simpsons episode first aired,” B-Real (real name Louis Mario Freese) told the BBC.

“So it’s very special for us. And it’s coming off the heels of our 30th anniversary for our Black Sunday album.”

They called the ability to play on London’s most famous stage “one of those checklist moments”.

“We’ve played a lot of historical venues throughout our career and stuff like that, but nothing as prestigious as this.”

In The Simpsons episode, Homerpalooza, Homer is shocked while on a school run that his music tastes are not considered cool.

He then tries to impress the kids by going to the Hullabalooza music festival – a play on the Lollapalooza music festival held in Chicago – and hanging out with rap and rock stars including Cypress Hill and The Smashing Pumpkins.

grey placeholderAEG Presents Promotional poster for Cypress Hill LSO showAEG Presents

Cypress Hill have sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and are one of hip-hop’s biggest acts

grey placeholderBBC/Tony Dolce Cypress Hill being interviewed by BBC in London on 9 JulyBBC/Tony Dolce

Cypress Hill have influenced a generation of artists with their music

The British connection goes beyond the LSO. In the episode, it was actually Peter Frampton, best known for his 1976 album Frampton Comes Alive, who was the guy trying to book the orchestra.

Cypress Hill laughed when I asked if he was on the guestlist.

“Yes, actually, we’ve been trying to invite him,” B-Real said.

“We’ve never met him before, but we thought it would be a kick to invite the legendary Peter Frampton.”

They’re still waiting for a reply.

LSO first violin and board vice-chair Maxine Kwok said “people are beyond excited at the idea of these diverse musicians mixing on the stage”.

“Being a child of the nineties I remember the episode well,” she told the BBC, sharing that it was a cultural reference and “running joke” for years each time the episode was repeated.

At rehearsals there have been cultural differences, leading to misunderstandings.

When the word “glock” was used, the LSO took it to mean the percussion instrument the glockenspeil. To Cypress Hill, glock will always be a gun.

The Simpsons predictions

grey placeholderGetty Images Creator Matt Groening poses with Simpson characters at "The Simpsons" Panel during the 2008 Comic Con at the San Diego Convention Center on July 26, 2008 in San Diego, CaliforniaGetty Images

Matt Groening (centre) created The Simpsons as a satirical take on American life

This isn’t the first time an event in The Simpsons has accurately predicted what has happened in reality many years in the future.

  • In a March 2000 episode, Bart is shown a vision of the future in which his sister Lisa becomes US president and declares: “We’ve inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump.” This was a full 16 years before Donald Trump became president.
  • Springfield had their own equivalent of the Las Vegas magicians Siegfried and Roy, a duo called Gunter and Ernst. Their first appearance in 1993 saw them being attacked by their own white tiger, which was part of their act. Exactly a decade later, during a show at the Mirage casino, Roy Horn survived an attack by one of their white tigers.
  • Winter Olympics Curling was the subject of a 2010 storyline, with Homer and Marge being selected for the US team. They triumphed over Sweden in the final. Eight years later, in South Korea, the US would win their first ever Winter Olympic Curling gold, beating none other than Sweden in the final.
grey placeholderBBC/Tony Dolce Cypress Hill rehearsing with the London Symphony OrchestraBBC/Tony Dolce

Cypress Hill rehearsing with the London Symphony Orchestra

grey placeholderBBC/Tony Dolce Cypress Hill rehearsing with the London Symphony OrchestraBBC/Tony Dolce

Whether the show writers can predict the future or not….

For Cypress Hill, at least, they feel tonight’s show has been their destiny.

Later in their career, the act said they became more experimental “combining hip-hop with rock or metal or punk or reggae or electronic” and that their new orchestral collaboration is part of who they are as “out-of-the-box artists”.

“We salute The Simpsons because if they had not written that episode, we probably wouldn’t be doing this.”

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