On this day, August 20, in hip-hop history…
2002: In 1999, the Brothers Thornton a.k.a. Clipse were primed to release their debut album, Exclusive Audio Footage, on Elektra Records. Their debut single, “The Funeral,” featured production by the red-hot production team, the Neptunes, and the group seemed like one of rap’s can’t-miss prospects. However, when the single flopped commercially, the duo found their album shelved indefinitely and they were released from their contract, shortly afterwards.
A few years later, the Neptunes had opened up their new imprint, Stark Trak Entertainment, with Arista Records and one of their first signings was Clipse, the brothers they had worked with a few years prior on their debut. After returning to the studio, the result was Lord Willin’, a coke rap classic and one of the best records of the 2000s.
Lord Willin’ was a minimalist, space-aged classic of the burgeoning coke rap genre – a genre dedicated to the lives of the gritty and sometimes glamorized lives of drug dealers. Powered by the Neptunes icy production and Clipse tales of modern street noir, Lord Willin’ would be recognized as one of the finest albums of the 2000s. A mature but often ruthless album, Clipse dealt with the themes of guilt, generational dysfunction and the over-glamorization of drug dealing along with bringing an album filled with songs for both the clubs and the streets.
Clipse would find themselves commercial success with Lord Willin’. ‘The album spawned classic tracks like “Virginia,” “When The Last Time,” “Cot Dayum” and the instantly iconic “Grindin’.” The album would eventually go Gold before topping out at 948,000 records sold. Today, both members of Clipse, Pusha T and No Malice, are prepping to release their first solo projects and continue to be a force on the hip-hop scene.