If The Wire was a rap album instead of a television show, Hell Hath No Fury is what it would sound like. With HHNF, the Clipse do for crack rap what The Wire did for crime dramas.

Both genres normally present titillating tales of drugs, sex, violence and money. Both are rooted in fantasy and tend to encourage a twisted voyeurism. Both involve unsympathetic villains—villains that are crude caricatures as opposed to complex human beings. Villains that serve as receptacles for fetish, scorn, fear and loathing.

The Clipse and The Wire similarly reject lazy, sensational depictions of the cocaine game. They counter stereotypes with craft—with highly intelligent, informed writing. [1] And with emotion—with evocative narratives that force the audience to feel, to empathize.

HHNF is a dark, brooding album. It’s music drenched in disappointment, seething with rage, stabbed with regret and guilt and paranoia.

In this context, the fruits of hustling—the whips, watches and women that dirty money buys—exist as a cold consolation, and nothing more. The riches are fleeting (“ride around shinin’ while I can afford it”), the females are fake (“you ain’t got to love me, just be convincing”), remorse is a constant companion (“to little brother Terrence, who I love dearly so/if ever I had millions, never would you push blow/never”), the terrain is treacherous (“they be thinking nice car, nice crib/I be thinking: how long will they let me live?”), and peace of mind is forever out of reach (“I creep low thinking dudes trying to harm me/hoping my karma ain’t coming back to haunt me”).

The Neptunes’ detached, futuristic beats serve as the perfect backdrop for all of this. The stark score—which, admittedly, wouldn’t be very interesting on its own—establishes mood without for a moment distracting from Pusha T and Malice’s poignant storytelling.

It must be noted that, somehow, HHNF isn’t even remotely depressing. There’s an aggressive energy to the project—a vigor, a visceral push. The album is shot through with something like hope.

Clearly, after years in the hell of label limbo, the Clipse are back with a vengeance. They’re out to win ears, and minds, and hearts. And who’s going to stop them? Not a cot damn one of you.


[1] And by intelligent, I mean brilliant. Seriously. I’ve probably listened to HHNF a dozen times now and I’m still picking up on new references. Jeepers creepers can those Thornton brothers rap.