Walking a fine line between fame-hungry thugs and existential thinkers

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Album Review: Clipse - 'Til The Casket Drops' (Columbia)

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Album Review: Clipse – ‘Til The Casket Drops’ (Columbia)

When [b]Pusha T[/b] raps, [i]“Cocaine aside, all the bloggers behoove/My critics finally have a verse of mine to jerk off to”[/i], on album opener [b]‘Freedom’[/b] it’s a typically [b]Clipse[/b] moment. Loaded with meaning, it’s a potshot at reviewers who wanted their flawless second album [b]‘Hell Hath No Fury’[/b] – its tales of dealing crack and minimal score making it the unofficial soundtrack to [i]The Wire[/i] – to be a confessional. Yet, simultaneously, [b]Pusha T[/b] and [b]Malice[/b] admit bloggers are necessary; they might have misread their references but sales-wise [b]Clipse[/b] needed all the publicity they could get.

More than that, though, in using the sort of archaic language – such as “behoove” – that even a medieval throwback like [a]Joanna Newsom[/a] would struggle to employ, it’s an example of the way [b]Clipse[/b] embody brain trouncing brawn in hip-hop.

OK, since their last opus sold so poorly, they are chasing dollar here with a [b]Neptunes[/b]-assisted move toward big, slick choonage. But the Thornton brothers’ self-reflection tempers everything brilliantly, even on the dated [b]‘Counseling’[/b] and the wooly, synth-helmed [b]‘Champion’[/b], on which they swagger, [i]“I thought that life was a bad bitch, bad car/Nah, it’s with your kids watching Madagascar in the headset of a H3 with a crash bar”[/i].

Never quite hitting the peak of [b]‘Hell…’[/b] they walk a fine line here between fame-hungry thugs – something that ill-fits them – and existential thinkers with the “intellect of Einstein” and a fondness for sonic dissonance. Thankfully, with the big-riffing [b]‘Freedom’[b], the ear-worming piano motif of [b]‘Popular Demand (Popeyes)’[/b], and the grisly-themed dancehall of [b]‘There Was A Murder’[/b], it’s the latter side that wins out.

[b]Chris Parkin[/b]

Click here to get your copy of Clipse’s ‘Til The Casket Drops’ from the Rough Trade shop