Eric Bobo is the percussion king behind the live and recorded hand beats on the Beastie Boys' Check Your Head and Ill Communications albums and tours. He's also been playing and recording with Cypress Hill since 1994.
We spoke to Bobo about the new album, gettin' high in Argentina, and digging crates in Chile.
Crossfade: Where are you right now?
Eric Bobo: Santiago, Chile. The shows have been great so far. We're playing our third show tonight. It's been off the hook not knowing what to expect. Tonight we playin' a 1000-seater and we been doin' a couple small clubs as well.
What's good to drink out there?
They got this Pisco Sour. Their beer is way stronger than ours too. But that pisco sour ... You gotta watch out for that.
What's the scene like in Chile?
It's definitely real, and everybody right up in your face and ready to rock. And everything happens real late over here. We been goin' on stage at 2 a.m. It's like 1990, they love the classics. So it's like home. It's been crazy. For people to
not know the songs, [and still] move and get hype with it, we're just grateful to
get out there and make people feel good.
Wassup with that Chile weed?
When I first got here the weed has been kinda dirty. Now, I'm finding the Doctor Greenthumbs. So I got that all green, no seeds. So things are getting better.
How do they smoke down there?
They don't add tobacco like in Europe. They not really into blunts. Weed is
real expensive out here, so they roll Chilean-style pinners. In the
cypher, you might get one hit, that's for sure. But that's about it. I'm like, "Yo, I have to take this one to the head."
You come from the land of Cali weed. How would that fly down there?
They wouldn't be able to handle it. We don't roll pinners in Cali. We be
rollin' them big bomber kush joints. A bong over here? You would need an
What do you think about legalizing weed?
Well, marijuana is considered a hard drug like cocaine or heroin [in Chile].
You get caught out here, you will be going to jail. You can't grow it. In Argentina, it's legal to grow, so that is not a problem. In Spain, it's legal to grow too. It's decriminalized. They ain't messing with you.
So you go out there to do shows and it's all good.
I already have my house in Buenos Aires, right outside of Buenos Aires,
so I'm gon' be fine. I'm starting some nice outdoor when I get over there. It is what it is. I have my trees and my DirecTV and I'm good.
When is the last show you did in Miami?
It's been a while. We definitely need to get back out there. It's been a minute. We did it with Slightly Stoopid.
You remember playing Bayfront Park with Cypress Hill like 15 years ago?
Yeah, out there by the water. Hot as hell. It was so good cause the hip-hop and Latin vibe was there, and it felt like home to me. Bein' Puerto Rican and all, it was real in the sense of music appreciation of hip-hop. And we always get a good show out there. The fans are tight.
You spent some time in Spain recently, right?
Spain is great. We spent a lot of time there this past year. They got their classic hip-hop there too. It's real street, real underground. I think that in traveling around the world, the people outside the States still embrace the golden age of hip-hop. And I think with this
album, I'm tryin' to bring back the musicality.
I'm a musician first, not a DJ. I play percussion so that is what it is, I'm not behind a drum machine pressing buttons. It's the rhythm, feeling the skin on your hands, that organic feel. And with this album, that's what we tryin' to do. You got to take it down from the
bottom and make it grow.
Where did you get your first drum?
Somewhere in L.A., I was probably two or three years old. I started playing professionally at four or five years old with my pops [Latin jazz player Willie Bobo] and everything. Latin jazz has been in my blood since ... I was playing before I was talking.
What is your favorite beat?
The first beat I ever learned on the drums was just a funky break beat that my pops taught me. At the time, that's what was going on. What's being sampled in recent years, I was there when it was coming out. I was always attracted to that, always. That's the funk and hip-hop in me.
What is some Puerto Rican slang?
It's a mix with Cuban slang. Me, I'm kinda gringo. I'm really Puerto Rican with my music, it's in my blood. I know it, I feel it, I play it, but I don't speak it. I'm a weird Puerto Rican. But it's in my blood and that's the truth.
You like the culture down there in Chile?
Diggin' into them crates out here, they have so many record shops, so much vinyl out here. I feel like there's such a gold mine of music out here. It's great for DJs that go record digging out here, lot of good finds.
Are you recording new stuff yet?
Not yet. But I have been working on some ideas and Latin Bitman is working on some stuff too. People already hittin' us up for remixes. I think we can try it out and see how it works. We wanna reach everybody we can and take it to the club in our own way. We feel we got something fresh and new, so to speak. As long as you get the girls dancing, right?
How's the women in South America?
The Chilenas go from black-haired to all of a sudden, damn, blonde with
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blue eyes. Then in Argentina, you find some of the most beautiful women
in the world. So it's good out here, it's good.