Mellow Man Ace
This week’s edition of Into the Weeds (ITW) Ben, Efem and Bubba sit down with Afro-Cuban hip-hop pioneer Mellow Man Ace. Mellow Man Ace has been referred to as The Godfather of Latin Hip-Hop and is the brother of Sen Dog of Cypress Hill. In the episode, Mellow Man discusses the early days of the Cypres crew, and how that transitioned for him from being a member of the Hill gang to being the pioneer of Spanish speaking hip hop, laying stadiums around the world, and of course, how got into weed.
Mellow Man Ace or Ulpiano Sergio Reyes is an Afro-Cuban American rapper, born in Cuba, but raised in South Gate,California. Mellow Man is known for pioneering bilingual hip-hop, bringing the genre to latin speaking countries all around the world. His debut album, Escape From Havana had contributions from legends like The Dust Brothers, DJ Muggs, Def Jeff and so many more. The album peaked in America on the Billboards top 200 at 69, but exploded around the world with Latin spelling countries. Solidifying young Ulpiano as a legend in those territories. This album took Mellow Man from break dancing on street corners to playing massive soccer (or football depending where you're reading this) stadiums around the world.
Mellow Man Ace is also the brother of Sen Dog of Cypress Hill and the two have collaborated on several projects over the years, but was also an original member of what we now know as Cypress Hill. Learning about the early days of this crew first hand was fascinating. The experiences of latino / black rappers growing up in California, especially only a few years after the dawn of hip-hop, is an existence very few on the planet get to witness. During our time with Mellow Man, among the multitude of amazing stories, Mellow explains that at one point, The Cypress Hill Crew used to be known as Cypress Tribe, until Tribe called Quest emerged on the east coast, prompting Cypress Tribe to change their name. They chose this moniker as a protest of sorts as Cypress Hill is a place in the Bronx. This was a gentle, playful jab in the West Coast vs East Coast hip-hop conflict that dominated headlines throughout much of the 90’s. A conflict which ended with the murders of the Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur.
Listening to Mellow Man provides insight and wisdom only legends can offer. It also offers hilarious tales of getting arrested in the southern states with Members of the Soul Assassins, Limp Bizkit, and a bouquet of rappers and metal heads. However, For that story, you’ll have to tune into the episode.