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Love Letter To A Record: Totally Unicorn On Cypress Hill’s ‘Black Sunday’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Dean Podmore, Totally Unicorn – Cypress Hills, Black Sunday, (1993)

Dear Cypress Hills’s Black Sunday,

I was 11 years old when we first met. Some would say it’s too young to learn about the gang life on the mean streets of LA, but to them I would say that sad little redheads from Woy Woy could get just as much meaning from the lyrics of ‘Ain’t Going Out Like That’ as hardened ruffians from Southern California.

An older family friend that we called “Chunky” gave you away (pretty loco, right?). He made the mistake of saying that this cassette tape had the most swear words ever put to music. I was sold. I had to have you. A Killer Python, a couple of War Heads and a shitty Guns n Roses tape swap later and you were all mine.

I became obsessed immediately. I listened to you non-stop, learning every single word. For some reason, it gave me so much confidence. I don’t know whether it was the hard-as-fuck beats or knowing that I was listening to something forbidden; something that was meant for more mature ears.

Everybody would watch in awe as I rapped the lyrics to ‘Hits From The Bong’. You made me the coolest kid in school for two glorious weeks, and then it was back to being bullied for being a “red-headed rat rooter“. But I no longer cared. I was a new man.

Cut to my early adult life. I had just moved to Sydney by myself, I didn’t know anyone. I found myself at a party and had just taken a tab of acid and everyone had gone to sleep. I was in for 16 hours of pure face-melting hell. While everyone slept, I wandered around the house and mid-trip stumbled upon Black Sunday on cassette!

I put you on ironically, as we do to everything that meant something to us in our past. “Oh man I can’t believe I used to listen to this“, I think.

From the very first bars of ‘I Want To Get High’, I was hypnotised. Is that fucking bagpipes contrasted with one of the smoothest bass lines ever put on a hip hop record? Then coupled with a completely out of tune vocal hook? “This might be the greatest song ever written,” I think to myself.

I listened to the album from start to finish, turned the tape over and started again. I did this, no shit, 14 times, walking around the house by myself laughing, having the time of my life and off my absolute tree. I’m sure the people sleeping at the party thought I was ‘Insane In the Membrane’. It was like I was back to being the coolest kid in school. Once more, you had given me a new lease on life and I knew that this little boy from Woy Woy would be OK.

Thank you Black Sunday, I love you.

Totally Unicorn’s third studio album, High Spirits//Low Life, is out this Friday, 18th February. In anticipation of its release, the band have shared the album’s fourth single, Not Winning, out today.

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