FEATURE: The Clipse, Me ‘N’ My

Photography courtesy of Matthew Salacuse

It’s a cool evening in downtown Norfolk, Virginia, and the Clipse have just arrived at MacArthur Center Mall. After a long day filled with photo shoots and driving around town, the sibling duo of Malice and Pusha T cuts into Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steakhouse for a few drinks—none of the alcoholic variety.

Malice, who’s nursing a migraine, orders a cup of Earl Grey tea with honey and lemon, while younger brother Pusha opts for his favorite Kincaid’s beverage, strawberry lemonade. Their divergent drink selections are representative of the group’s career. Hot and cold. Bittersweet.

Over the course of the past 11 years, the Clipse have had the distinct displeasure of calling several labels home. They were originally signed to Elektra Records, in 1998, but got dropped after their debut single, “The Funeral,” failed to catch on commercially. Four years later, the duo inked a deal with Arista Records, which then got absorbed by Jive Records in 2004. After an extended and public battle with whom Pusha T describes as “them crackas” that weren’t playing fair at Jive, the brothers were finally released to join the Columbia Records roster in 2007.

By the time all the label logistics were settled and they had found a new home, the Clipse had released only two official albums. Talent certainly wasn’t the issue. In addition to being praised by hip-hop purists and critics alike for their crisp lyricism, undiluted crack rap and classic mixtapes, Malice and Pusha earned a platinum plaque for their 2002 debut, Lord Willin’, and a classic, XXL rating from this magazine for their 2006 opus, Hell Hath No Fury. Despite the critically acclaimed LPs, the Clipse always seem to find themselves in the midst of label drama, but somehow they’ve managed to keep a positive outlook.

“Anybody else that went through the red tape that we went through, they would of fell out to the wayside,” says Malice, 36. “I say this because I see it and believe it. It’s about having the product. You can’t always control what happens within the label, but if you—and this should serve as a lesson to anybody that does this—if you keep your craft right and do what it is that you’re supposed to do, fans will keep you around. It don’t matter what’s going on. We was gone for four years, and fans was still asking about us, and it’s because we have that integrity with our music every time.”

Finally aligned with a label that they can see eye to eye with, the Clipse have spent the past two years crafting their latest offering, Til the Casket Drops. Set for release this November via their Columbia-distributed Re-Up Gang Records, the album is a potent mix of raw street records (“Kinda Like a Big Deal,” featuring Kanye West), cocksure cuts (“Back by Popular Demand,” featuring Cam’ron), inspirational darts (“Champion”), radio-ready singles (“I’m Good,” featuring Pharrell Williams) and 100 percent reality raps (“Doorman”).

“The energy around this album feels more like Lord Willin’ than Hell Hath No Fury,” explains Pusha, 31. “Hell Hath No Fury was a real dark, linear album. [It was] awesome, amazing, classic, but, at the same time, it was really angry… It was just handcuffs on that Hell Hath No Fury album. Lyrically, I think it was a beast. Beats, we feel it was a beast. But it was like it honed into a certain individual. We went directly for the purists’ neck with that album, and we got that, period. But Til the Casket Drops let us expand creatively.” —Anslem Samuel

For more of the Me ‘N’ My article, make sure to pick up XXL’s November issue on newsstands now.

  • just joe

    Can’t fu**in’ wait!

  • tronthadon

    Fav new group..they aint really new but who else been puttin it down like these niggas..i still bump that we got it for cheap vol 3 and that play clothes mixtape..keep up tha good work im rootin for ya..Atlanta bish

  • Pingback: (10/26) FEATURE: The Clipse, Me N My - Rap GodFathers Community

  • AZ40

    31 and 36 i ain’t know malice was that old, not that it really matters cuz them dudes is talented

  • MR. UNDI$PUTED THE MOGUL

    The Clipse always spittin’ that Hot ish!!! Every cd & mixtape they’ve dropped has been dope! I find it interesting that the story included their ages which doesn’t matter but for all the losers yelling about Jay-Z’s age, my question is when are you too old to keep rapping? At what age should MC’s retire? I don’t see white people telling KISS or the Rolling Stones to quit! I’m sorry I got off the subject. The Clipse new CD will definitely be a Certified Banger!!!!! By the way which Website is selling the “Play Clothes” Mixtape?

    PEACE & GET MONEY!!!
    MOGUL $$$ GAME ’09!!

    • $ykotic/Don McCaine

      complex.com/ENTERTAINMENT/MUSIC/Clipse-Mixtape

      “I find it interesting that the story included their ages which doesn’t matter but for all the losers yelling about Jay-Z’s age, my question is when are you too old to keep rapping? At what age should MC’s retire?”

      Convo of the year no one will touch…All the old head/let the young in talk is segregation…hip hop been graduated why stay in high school…it should be get the trash music outta here/bring the good & quality music back…

      Clipse FTW

      • SuperstarExtraordinaire

        I think the topic about these rappers should be “how old is too old”…..it should be can these dudes act their age….they need to stop dressing like 16 yr olds….stop wearin those bright ass neon colors….thats what the topic should be

        The Clipse been dope since they came in…..their 1st cd still gets spins on my whip

    • http://youtube.com/federalranga Federal Ranga

      Yeah, they already did a blog about the age top a while back… you’d have to do some serious diggin to find that bitch… but I didn’t know they were that old either…

      $yk, my nigga!!! Did you get a chance to see that Federal Ranga t-shirt I made? The Commission Tees are gonna be something like that… holla at ya boy!!!

      federalranga.blogspot.com
      youtube.com/federalranga

      Commission!!!

  • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

    im a brand new fan of these guys. I’m Good is my ‘feel good’ track of the month, i love that shit.

  • Pingback: Daily Recap – 10/26/09 at SNICKA

  • kedordu

    ALL THE SONGS IVE HEARD MAKE ME BELIEVE IM GONNA BUY THIS ALBUM .. I THINK THEY GONNA HAVE ANOTHER CLASSIC IN THEIR HANDS

  • http://www.myspace.com/berkailteam alien safari

    i fthink clips are one of the best group in startrack/re-up records and i find it a lil rong that their never get the prps that they diserve they flow and rhymes are fat ill

    alien safari a.k.a trés

  • HollyHood

    Yeah Im Good is definetly a great feeling song. My girl dont really like rap but she loves that song.

  • http://www.twitter.com/hottstash kasiology

    yep, they been had da game on lock and hid the KEYS(heita hola Pusha T). Hope they turn the industry in2 fiendz.

    HOTT STASH

  • adrian smith birmingham england

    cant wait the the fucking clipse to drop the casket classic album for the street

  • Savoirfaire

    Woaw, Malice drinks earl grey with honey and lemon !

    That aint really gangsta lol

    Looking forward to their album, though, Clipse rulez

  • http://-- gaddic

    Keep making great rap music fellas
    you definitely deserve the support of every rap fan
    After a classic album expectations are always high
    Hopefully y’all deliver becuz we sure as well know you CAN!

  • Pingback: Sandman On Why He Left Re-Up Gang “I saw The Clipse get money and take it all to themselves” « I Am Not A Rapper