Clipse: The Charm

After years of label drama, these Virgina brothers finally have a clean slate on Columbia Records. Can they find success again without The Neptunes?
Over the last five years, more people have heard about Clipse’s label woes than have actually heard Pusha and Malice’s music. It’s a familiar story: The Neptunes’ flagship artists hit it big with 2001’s platinum-selling Lord Willin’, then get sucked into a hell full of label mergers and pushed back release dates before their follow-up can solidify their status. By 2006, they seemed to have reached a tenuous agreement for a new label with Jive Records, but after more delayed release dates, their critically-acclaimed sophomore album Hell Hath No Fury (which received the coveted XXL rating from XXL) came and went with very little marketing push or response from the record buying public. To date, the album has sold just under 200,000 copies, according to SoundScan.
Almost a full year later, the Virginia-bred brothers are now emerging from another period of silence. They’ve left Jive and Star Trak for a new home at Columbia Records, where they just signed a 50/50 deal for their Re-Up Records. And while the Sony system has been notoriously bad with urban acts in the past, new C.E.O. Rick Rubin and urban president Kyambo “Hip-Hop” Joshua are bringing a new air of credibility and excitement to the label. Pusha and Malice’s plan is to release We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 3 to the streets in early 2008, followed by a Re-Up Gang album in April (“It’s gonna be like the best mixtape ever in life,” says Pusha of the album that will feature extended family members Ab-Liva and Sandman), followed closely by a new Clipse studio album, which, for the first time, will include production from producers other then The Neptunes. Will the third time be the charm?

At what point did you guys start looking for a new deal? Was it as soon as the album dropped?
Pusha: Yeah. As soon as Hell Hath dropped, we were already in talks with Jive like, “Listen—this aint working for you…

Malice: “This ain’t workin’ for us…

P: “Lets resolve this, man! We’re wasting each others’ time.”

M: Like, they got the album, which is what they wanted. They got it, put it out, they didn’t step up, and I feel like they know that they didn’t do nothing. With all the write ups on the album being so dope, and all the acclaim, people couldn’t understand how the group could not sell nothing.

P: And why the other aspects of publicity didn’t live up to the critical acclaim.

So when it did come time to look for the new deal, what were you looking for?
P: First and foremost, we were looking for people that believed in the Clipse wholeheartedly, respected the rap that we do, and had a history for it. It was more so about securing our future as well.

M: We were contemplating the independent route—that was a big issue for us. Pusha don’t like the independent look, which I feel. After being on a major label, there’s a stigma that comes with that.

It seems like a lot of people are not paying attention to that stigma anymore and just going indie. It does work for a lot of people…
M: Yeah, it does, and it’s a great look, especially if you come straight from the street. But if you on a major label, and have all the best looks, whether the album sold or not, and then you get dropped or released and you go independent, it kinda sets you back a step in terms of appearance.

But aside from it looking better, is there any advantage to being on a major label?
P: Definitely. Everything is a bit more structured for you. Being independent, you’re freehanding everything. So it’s definitely a bit of an easier route. But to me, this new deal we got is the best of both worlds. We were looking to be able to put out as much music as we wanted to. You think back to the earlier days of Master P and No Limit, you of course would put out the P album, you’d put out the Silkk Tha Shocker album, but you also had muthafuckin Mia X, and other muthafuckas me or you don’t know of, but they ended up selling 2 and 300,000 records. At the end of the day, it just built the brand. There was nothing like opening any of those rap magazines and seeing two pages of CDs, and P standing in the middle with both his hands out with funny gold on. You felt like, Damn, this muthafucka got it.

People would buy all those albums too…
P: Yeah, it was cool to know Kane & Abel’s shit…

M: Ehhhh…

P: Or whoever! Even if you didn’t like ’em, you were like, oh shit, that’s the new shit.

So how does it even make sense for Columbia to let you put out music whenever you want?
P: At the end of the day, you have to be very cost effective. Not everything can be produced by the Neptunes for 150-thousand-trillion dollars. You have to find all the diamonds in the rough, and then you gotta line ’em up, then you put ’em out. You can’t really base everything off of radio and shit like that. We just gonna hit the streets real hard, hit the underground real hard, keep the music flowing, and let the cult following that the Clipse has—and that the Re-Up Gang is starting to grow—let them dictate the pace.

M: We definitely are planning to research these records, as opposed to before, we would just put out what we thought was hot, and think the rest of the world was crazy if they didn’t fuck with it. We’re gonna try to research what people like. I’m kinda salty right now about not putting “Nightmares” out as a single, “Trill,”other things. Stuff that we love, but then we hear from diehard fans about what their favorite single choices would have been. We didn’t always choose the ones that would have knocked it out the park,like I feel “Nightmares” would have. “Nightmares” might have been on the radio right now.

Columbia and Sony have been notoriously bad with urban acts, and the new Rick Rubin regime hasn’t really had a chance to prove themselves yet. What makes you think this situation will be better than Jive?
M: Rick Rubin, himself, is an artist, so he understands the plight of the artist, as far as being creative. We all know his track record, being a legend in the game. It’s really good to come up under him, even though we haven’t even sold one record yet. We’ve been with a lot of labels, man…

P: Every label stinks.

M: Yeah, that’s the way I feel. No label is different from another. But I just feel like Hip-Hop and Rick Rubin…first of all, they’re fans of the Clipse, so that’s an interest right there that we haven’t had anywhere else. So they’re already one step ahead of everybody else. It’s just a good vibe right now. The numbers on that contract, that’s almost enough…they playing fair.

P: I think its safe to say that every label has the resources to make anything pop. It’s just where you fall in their priority list. I know Hip-Hop and them haven’t proven themselves in the sense of Sony and in the Clipse, but they’re definitely lining everything up for a major role out. And that’s it. It’s just that new energy, that hunger.

It seems like it would have been a logical option for you to go to Interscope with Star Trak for the new deal. Was that ever discussed?
M: There was no 50/50 deal over there. That’s it. The best deal is the best deal, and this is about the Clipse establishing themselves as more than just artists. And that came with the Sony deal.

P: It was fitting for all of us. When we talk about the Clipse, we mean the Re-Up Gang too. These are two guys [Ab-Liva and Sanman] who’ve been riding with us for a very long time. So of course we were weighing the deals for us, but theres a whole other side to this.

So have you had a chance to get in the studio with any non-Neptunes producers yet?
P: Everything we’ve done so far! Dame Grease. A lot of different dudes. Dame Grease is definitely sticking out to me so far.

So I assume you’re a fan of the old Ruff Ryders sound he was doing in the late ’90s?
P: Hell yes!

M: Definitely. Riot music.

P: I was actually in the studio with him, and he was going through his whole hard drive. We got two crazy joints. He’s definitely come with anthems. That’s the one word to describe them.

This must be exciting for you to finally work with other people.
P: Yeah, totally. It’s been hard as well. Not with somebody like Dame, but you got other producers who give you CDs on top of CDs, and it’s like 40 beats up there! Now, theres a smash in that 40…but it’s like number 28. You gotta listen, and that shit gets so tedious. That’s something that we’ve never ever done. Having to listen to 28 beats before you get to a banger? And it’s like, why the fuck that ain’t number one? ’Cause they don’t even know!

M: We’ve been really spoiled. With the Neptunes tracks, they just come with that heat. I feel like now, with these new tracks, I’m really digging deep, lyrically. It’s turning out even better. I have to work harder at finding myself over the beat. The songs that we have now are incredible. Lyrically…I don’t know what these rappers gonna do.

Have you got in the studio with Danja or Timbaland yet?
P: Nah, but we supposed to find out when that’s gonna happen real soon.

What makes you wanna work with them?
P: They got it! They make that original sounding shit.

M: And it was only a matter of time til we crossed their path, with everybody being from Virginia and everybody knowing each other. I think the track Tim comes with is gonna be real special. Something serious.

How is working with the Neptunes gonna be different now? They obviously aren’t going to open up the whole catalog for you since you’re not on Star Trak.
P: Pharrell just called me the other day, talking about he got three records right now. That’s just how it comes with them, and that’s how it’s always been. I don’t know what he has in mind in terms of his creative process, you just get a call like, “Yo, this is what it is.” I don’t see much changing, we’re just not doing it exclusively with them.

M: I think the stage has been set for everybody to want to bring out their best work. We’ve been through so much, and the dumb shit is over with, and this album here, I’m sure Pharrell and Timbaland and all the producers, the stage has been set for people to come and give it their best.

It’s been a full year since people have heard from you. What can we expect to hear you address on the new material?
P: This is the first time I think I’ve had a clear head in writing an album. I have a whole carefree outlook in writing.

M: Lord Willin’ was like that, at least for me…

P: Yeah, Lord Willin’ was like that. But Hell Hath No Fury was just like…couldn’t nothing be sweet on that album. Couldn’t nothing even be comical. This time, even though it’s street music, I think you can hear a sense of lightheartedness in it.

M: You know what the fans didn’t get yet? They seen our first album, they seen us come out. But they didn’t get to catch us in our glory. They didn’t get those verses. We started out writing that way, like, boom, we over the hump, we broke through, it’s an official brand, the Clipse, people fuckin’ with it, now its time to get out there and do what we do. Instead, they got a bunch of anger, a bunch of aggression. They got the Clipse caught up in a bad label situation. That’s what they got. But now, like Pusha said, it’s a clear head. The label woes are gonna be to a minimum. A clean slate—what’s better than that?

  • bko26@hotmail.fr

    im a clipse die hard fan since their beggining and hope everything will work well for them .from paris. Hell hath no fury is just crazy loud in a car!!

  • texasleen

    hell hath no fury was tight nightmares was one of the best tracks shit was smooth like ur mommas booty

  • Unknown

    On the real, count me as one of the biggest clipse fans. But the bottom line is they need to put out music, Alot of artist are giving all these excuses and I can’t profess to know their situations but right now all I can say to my favorite group (Clipse) – PUT IT OUT LET THE MUSIC SPEAK FOR ITSELF

    • ANDRE

      THATS THE GODDAMN TRUTH. THE CLIPSE IS THE HOTTEST THING IN THE STREETS BUT IT SEEMS THE STREETS AINT THE ONES BUYING.THEY NEED TO TO DROP MORE SHIT AND INFILTRATE THE SUBURBS. GIVE EM THE TRUTH AND SHOW THEM THAT WHATEVER THEY LISTENING TO PALES IN COMPARISON TO THAT STREET HEAT

  • MR.UNDISPUTED THE MOGUL

    I COMPLETELY RESPECT THE CLIPSE, GOT BOTH CD’S & BOTH “WE GOT IT 4 CHEAP” MIXTAPE’S, STRAIGHT ETHER!!! HOWEVER WHEN WAS IT EVER STATED THAT THE ONLY PRODUCERS THEY COULD GET BEATS FROM IS THE NEPTUNES?!? WHEN “HELL HATH NO FURY” WAS COMING OUT, I REMEMBER THEM SAYING TO WRITER’S WHEN ASKED “WHO’D YALL WORK WITH ON THIS ALBUM” THEIR RESPONSE WAS “ONLY THE NEPTUNES THAT’S ALL WE NEED, WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR THE HEAT THEY PUT ON THIS ALBUM”. I’M COPPING THE NEW MIXTAPE,CLIPSE CD & RE-UP CD REGARDLESS, I’M SURE THE BEATS WILL STILL BE FIRE, BUT DON’T MAKE IT SEEM LIKE YOU WERE FORCED TO ONLY FUCK WITH THE ‘TUNES, SHIT THEY GET ENOUGH HATE AS IT IS! PS THE ALBUM WAS THE BOMB ANYWAY, THE LAME NIGGAZ SNOOZED, TRILL PLAYERS LOVED IT!!!
    PEACE.

    • http://yahoo.com T

      WAR CLIPSE,’TUNES AND THE RE-UP GANG MOVEMENT!!! AND YEA 97% OF NIGGAZ I KNOW HATE ON THE ‘TUNES. LAMEZ DONT REALIZE THAT Only SIX (I REPEAT SIX) albums have received an XXL In the 10 YEAR HISTORY OF THE MAG. WELL DESERVED AFTER THE LONG HIATUS. SO Recognize REAL MUSIC AND ONE ONE OF THE FEW NIGGAS IN RAP THAT ACTUALLY DONT FICIONALIZE THEY RAPS. “IM THE BEST SINCE HE DIED AND HE LIED/IN THE SPIRIT OF COMPETITON ONE VERSE COULD START JIHAD.” -Pusha T

  • comptons own

    the clipse are THE best duo since outkast and will go down in history az such. “pull up so mean wit the angel bowin”!

  • Tee

    WAR CLIPSE AND THE RE-UP GANG MOVEMENT!!

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  • http://www.myspace.com/bryantoden Bryant Oden

    I’m so excited about this new situation. Watch out ya’ll here comes the storm!!

    Bryant Oden
    A&R Consultant

  • Freddy(Vega$)

    We still ridin, Clipse 4 LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mooch72002

    MAN IM SO HAPPY FOR MY NIGGAS TO HAVE A DEAL AND I HOPE THE REST OF THE WORLD WILL TAKE NOTICE THAT THE CLIPSE AND SANDMAN AND AB-LIVA ARE GREAT, RE-UP GANG AND 757 STAND UP AND THE WHOLE TIDEWATER AREA IN VA.

  • viscous999

    The Clipse have always put it down real hard with the Neptunes, no doubt, but I think we are about to see that real shit. Pusha and Malice are artist and I look forward to the shit they about to spit. Just imagine Timbo beats with Clipse verses… definitely some hot shit. With re-up 3: the spirit of competition, followed by another re-up mix tape, then an album! We’re about to see a lot more of these dudes, and they are already in my book the illest.

    i got it for cheap

  • GoOfy

    I’m a big fan of Clipse. But I think they should try different producers than neptunes…actually my favorite track is from mixtape we got it 4 cheap and song called zen produced by timbaland…that song was sick…and that’s what they need…different production…Hang Loose

  • mark cartel

    yo da clipse always got dat fire..there my favorite group besides the lox…bottom line if they use outside producers it could affect there sound 2 ways: (1)they got flow and hearin them on beats other than da neptunes could b refreshin..or (2)hearin them on other beats mite sound weird bcuz them neptune beats became a trademark sound 4 them…i just wish them da best…i would luv 2 hear how they would sound on a dj premier track!!

  • Trickdd

    2 UNDER RATED RAPPERS RIGHT HEAR .

  • teddy

    mad luv to the clipse been a day 1 fan and this is prob the only blog iv ever seen with no hating on it goes to show u the respect and following the clipse hav

  • Tray

    Glad to hear they’ll be getting some different production.

  • BLAZE

    clipse is dope cant wait till they make a cd on none neptunes beats… will be somthing new

  • John Black

    “I philosophise about glocks and keys, niggas call me young black socrates, west indies bitch dropped her knees quick, with dreams of bein a rich man’s bitch”

    “I aint spend one rap dolla in 3 years holla, Moneys the leash I grab ya bitch by her dog collar”

  • PRODIGAL SON

    Ayo, for real, Lord Willin & Hell Hath No Fury, best goddamn albums to bump in the car… sick lyrics and the beats (Cot Damn & Comedy Central) straight gangsta, best of luck to Push & Malice, man they deserve it cos they sound like they wanna make music for the fans… Anthems, I like the sound of that, that’s what we need, can’t wait to see the heat they bring.

    peace&love

  • Frenchyblaq

    Yeah, Good to hear from these dudes…Can’t wait ’til we got it for cheap Vol 3 drops…

  • http://dirtyglovebastard.blogspot.com/ Ziploc Moe

    The best hood rap duo of all time.

  • RON LEE

    THIS IS THE 1ST TIME THERE HASN’T BEEN ONE NEGATIVE COMMENT FOLLOWING THE INTERVIEW. HOW CAN YOU HATE ON THE CLIPSE? FROM FLOSSY TO PHILISOPHICAL, FROM STREET TO CONCEPTUAL, THESE CATS DO IT ALL! AND WE AS THE FANS SHOULD BE ASHAMED THAT THEY ONLY SOLD 200,000. FROM THE FUNERAL TO GRINDIN TO KEYS OPEN DOORS, THEY NEVER FELL OFF ONE STEP! WE DON’T GET THE “I FINISHED MY ALBUM IN 6 DAYS” BULLSHIT FROM THESE OTHER FAGGOT RAPPERS. THEY TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR MUSIC AND I’M A LIFELONG SUPPORTER.

    “PLAYAZ WE AIN’T THE SAME I’M INTO CANE AND GUNS”

  • Darkman

    Them dudes b goin hard on they shit.That album hell hath no fury is nice as fuck,keys open doors an nightmares r the ones that had me but overall all the songs are hot

  • daddyrich

    sheeeiiiitttttt clipse is strait NAPALM i still bump the Funeral i’ve been diggin deez cats. My face gets numb just touchin the cds these guys bless. I wish their shit wuz out now! buy everything these guys put out

  • Moron Writers @XXL

    nice job, spelling Virginia incorrectly. when did it become Virgina? that sounds like a redneck talkin bout pussy!

  • Trickdd

    CLIPSE GOT MAD STREET RESPECT . LETS SEE HOW MUCH THEY NEXT CD WELL SELL IM DEFENTLY GETIN IT THEY ARE TWO OF THE MOST TALENTED ARTIST IN THE GAME REAL SHIT

  • AJGins

    Lookin foward to a new album-

    They should’ve dropped Ride ARound Shinin as a single- probably one of the craziest beats of all time-

  • chuang williams

    I got one question for the clipse…fuck yall been doin?

  • nicklendime yeeee!!

    Its all love for the clipse. illest lines droped in hip hop every time with these dudes. “GAVEM’ THEY CHOICE OF BALCONY/SHE SAID WE CAN HAVE MORE FUN I SAID HOW CAN WE?/THEN SHE BROUGHT A GIRL AND ATE HER OUT FOR ME.” WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.broadstreetballroom.com Broad Street Bully

    Lyrically…I don’t know what these rappers gonna do.

    ‘Nuff Said.

  • http://startjihad.blogspot.com riyadh

    That’s really great news for Gene and Terrence, and even for Jive who obviously coudn’t market them. I just started my blog and I named it after one of their lyrics. My first post has some rare Clipse cuts, if anybody’s interested. Check it out.

  • DoubleClutch

    The Clipse are the best duo in the game today! Period! Can’t no one fuck wit them. I cant wait till We Got It 4 Cheap Vol 3, Re-Up Gang album and Clipse new LP in 08′. Real rap fan understand it take more than a catchy hook and a dance to be a rapper. The Re-Up Gang (Push, Mal, Ab & Cannon) will be on the top of every1 list after 08′. Bet that!

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  • LLlim

    hell hath is 1 of my faveroute albums .

  • O

    No Matter what the content of their music is , Clipse just Stay Strictly Lyrical Like you always have.

  • MAC504

    yes yes yes. see i’m a New Orleans nigga and you know we roc nuttin but straight street shit ya heard me and i been fuckin wit deez bois since i’ve heard of them ya dig. i fucks wit da CLIPSE. real niggaz

    ONE LUV,
    Lil ONE

  • http://www.myspace.com/yardibmatrixi Yardi Black

    check out yardi black for that new hood shit outta canada!!! staight fiyaaaah!!
    new up and comer dont say i didnt warn ya
    http://www.myspace.com/yardibmatrixi

  • http://bf.com myspace.com/the_GAY_Promoter

    This is gone be hott for Clipse
    O im the first Gay promoter and i just signed my first artist to HELLA gay ent lol
    check em out
    myspace.com/zoomoney
    But he aint gay. it was for the money ya know lol

  • http://bf.com myspace.com/the_GAY_Promoter

    This is gone be hott for Clipse
    O im the first Gay promoter and i just signed my first artist to HELLA gay ent lol
    check em out
    myspace.com/zoomoney
    But he aint gay. it was for the money ya know lol

  • damn

    Im ready to hear some of this shit. I always thought these 2 dudes had some spit in em. They just gotts get in the right situation with the right studio vibe. Hopefully they have that now.

  • lilchuck113

    Thank God they on they own

  • claudia dupree

    pusha t… THE BEST RAPPER ALIVE

  • jey da yung journalist

    VA STAND UP 2 UP 2 DOWN YEH DIGGG!!!!!!!!

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  • irving6000

    R-E-U-P-G-A-N-G! finally vol.3? At the end of 06 they said it would be out in the new year, didn’t realise they meant 08!

    “through a life in the fast lane I german engineer em”

  • ishbon

    pusha t > weezy

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