Growing up on the Southside of Los Angeles, Louis Freese was heading down a destructive path in life.
As a member of the Bloods, he witnessed his father and brother get shot. He too was once shot in the back. As his friends and family rallied around him, he realized he had a way out: music.
Going by his stage name, B-Real, he became the lead vocalist of the best-selling Latin hip hop groups of all time: Cypress Hill.
He vowed to leave gang life behind.
“It was part of who I am, who I was before I came in and I learned a lot from it, but I would not let it hinder me, or take me back, or anchor me down, and I would not glorify it,” he said. “I would speak of the things that we went through while we were living that life, and all the harsh realities of it, but never glorifying and showing that there is truly, in fact, a way out if you seek it.”
On the latest episode of “LA Stories” with Giselle Fernandez, B-Real reflects on the colossal success of Cypress Hill over the years.
Together, the hip hop group has sold millions of albums and were nominated for three Grammys.
They are known for their unique sound that celebrates Los Angeles and Latino culture. They’re also advocates for cannabis culture and its legalization, something they were never afraid to shy away from, even when they were banned from Saturday Night Live for smoking on stage.
B-Real believes it’s that sort of rebellious nature that secured Cypress Hill’s legendary status.
“We just wanted to be musicians doing what we loved, and that we were Latino would shine through because we would sprinkle our music with that flavor,” he said. “It worked for us… and it opened the door for a lot of other Latino rappers and artists to come through.”
On top of making music and touring with Cypress Hill, B-Real is a titan entrepreneur.
He has a line of cannabis products and dispensaries throughout California called Dr. Greenthumb’s, a nod to Cypress Hill’s hit song. He also recently launched a content platform called BREAL TV that shares news, music and podcasts, which he hosts.
For B-Real, his drive and motivation to succeed came from deep inside himself.
“The only roadblocks you have are yourself. You can push past all that if you really focus and if you love something enough,” he said. “Where a lot of people told us we wouldn’t, we did… More than anything, it’s the tenacity and the drive that we had to keep moving forward.”
Watch “LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez” at 9 p.m. every Monday on Spectrum News 1.