“Sen Dog from Cypress Hill
“Feelin insane got no brains!”
— Verb in HYPE MAN, p. 84
Verb’s fourth favorite hype man is Sen Dog from the rap group Cypress Hill, who first came up in the West Coast rap scene of the early 1990s.
Cuban-born Senen Reyes, or Sen Dog, is most known for his performances in the Cypress Hill tracks “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” “Rap Superstar,” and “Insane In the Brain,” which Verb quotes with Sen Dog’s famous line above. While B-Real led on vocals, Sen Dog’s deep voice added a contrasting element as he barked ad-libs that went on to become memorable earworms.
Hear Sen Dog’s iconic line in the music video for “Insane in the Brain” below:
Sen Dog took a hiatus from Cypress Hill in the late 1990s to form the rap/rock group SX-10, which blended Funk and Latin influences. More recently, he’s also released music with his heavy metal band Powerflo. Check him out as the front man in Powerflo’s music video for “Where I Stay”:
As the team explores the musical influences and contemporaries for the characters in Hype Man, we’ve also looked at the way these influences might manifest in the costume design for the characters. Below are some of the images and cultural inspiration we’ve been referencing when thinking about Verb, Peep One, and Pinnacle’s personal style.
Kdot, Bryson Tiller, and Chance the Rapper have served as useful reference points for the casual, layered look we’re exploring for Verb.
Some possible style influences for Peep One include Amandla Stenberg, Venus X, Slim Woods, Willow Smith, and Princess Nokia — people who feel effortlessly fashion forward, or who blur the sartorial lines between masculine and feminine.
A leading style inspiration for Pinnacle is G-Eazy, whose look is refined and put together, but still relaxed and based on simple pieces and muted colors.
During our rehearsal process, we’ve been checking out a variety of music videos and clips of live performances as we develop ideas about what Pinnacle, Verb, and Peep One’s performance styles and stage presence might be like. Each week we’ll compile a few selections here on the blog — here are this week’s links!
Kendrick Lamar is incredibly dynamic onstage — the way his body becomes the beat makes for a high energy live performance, and his use of the mic stand as a tool to focus and ground him in the space is worth noting.
Yelawolf has command of his stage, whether he’s walking around the stage during a break or spitting raps at the mic:
Bruno Mars might not be the first artist that comes to mind when you think of Hype Man, but the high energy, the sense of joy, and the use of levels and specific movement to punctuate beats in this performance are all things worth exploring:
This clip of Rezz provides a few different examples of how a DJ might be present onstage — the video is super long, so skip through a bit, but note the way her movements and vibe respond to the changes in the beat:
VERB: Some bullshit.
PINNACLE: Yeah it is.
PEEP ONE: Damn.
VERB: So sick of this. How many this year alone?
PEEP ONE: Too many.
VERB: This keeps happening.
PINNACLE: I know. It’s bullshit.
– HYPE MAN by Idris Goodwin, p.19
The image above shows just several of the many black lives taken by police unjustly in recent years — their names and many others have been making the front pages and top headlines of major news and media outlets over the past several years as issues surrounding police violence become more of a national conversation. In an attempt to humanize and create visibility for people of color who were victims of police brutality, online activists began using the social media hashtag #saytheirnames.
As we consider the social and political climate in which Hype Man is set and explore the circumstances that lead to the death of (fictional) Jerrod Davis, it’s worth pausing to reflect on the real life incidents that inspired this aspect of the play. Click the names below to read/watch their stories:
Their Names and stories Continue…
“So many dope women out here. I can put on for em. I can build a movement just like Dr. Dre did. That can be my brand.” — Peep One in HYPE MAN, p.56
In rehearsal, the team has been exploring the intricacies of Peep One’s character journey throughout the play, including the way she begins to find her voice as a female beat maker in the hip hop industry. Peep One mentions Dr. Dre multiple times throughout the play, suggesting that his career success and influence in hip hop is something she aims for in her own work. Verb also references Dr. Dre’s song “Deep Cover” while telling a story about a high school party later in the play.
So who is Dr. Dre, and what innovations has he contributed to hip hop?
“Initially known to the world as an MC for gangsta godfathers N.W.A., Dr. Dre went on to become the single most influential producer in hip-hop history. With 1993’s The Chronic, he married breezy funk samples to hardcore imagery, creating the G-Funk style and inspiring a host of imitators. He would later discover and nurture some of the best rappers ever, including Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and 50 Cent.” — Rolling Stone
Not only is Dr. Dre a groundbreaking music producer and beat maker that discovered some of the most famous rappers in history, but he also popularized rap by marrying early gangsta rap’s commercial sheen with the grit of the neighborhoods from which the genre came. This is the legacy Dr. Dre has carved in the hip hop industry, and what Peep One would like to model for women in hip hop.
For a deeper look at Dr. Dre’s sound and career highlights, check out “Dr. Dre’s 16 Greatest Contributions to Music, Ranked” on Vulture. The list includes the aforementioned song “Deep Cover,” which features a lot of Dre’s stylistic hallmarks, as well as tracks from his groundbreaking album The Chronic and other collaborations and high points spanning his career.
“Spliff star from flipmode” – Verb in HYPE MAN pg. 84
The third hype man that Verb mentions in his top 5 is Spliff Star from the Flipmode Squad.
Called one of the greatest Hype Men in rap history by complex.com, Spliff Star was best friend and side kick to Busta Rhymes from a young age. After Spliff decided that working the streets was not as good as a career in hip hop, he joined forces with Busta Rhymes and their careers took off in the mid 1990s. Their dynamic is packed with chemistry, support, and vibing each other in a way that creates cohesive and flowing performance.