The Clipse have been around cocaine their entire life. They remember seeing scales in their grandmother’s closet as youngsters. The rush associated with getting so much money, so quickly, was appealing, and two older cousins introduced Malice to hustling in the late 1980s. He was 15 years old and receiving $10 a week in allowance.
But in 1992—that’s right after the first Gulf War—Malice, who had a child on the way, enlisted in the U.S. Army. He did two years and 23 weeks and returned home to find Pusha immersed in the drug game. “[I was] getting taken advantage of by older guys,” Pusha remembers. “Put through hell. Like, you’ve got half baking soda. They’re not telling you that, and you’re out there debating with fiends.”
“This is heart attack,” Malice says, impersonating one of those fiends. Both brothers double over in laughter (which is pretty disturbing if you think about it). “It’s a higher high,” Malice says of crack’s frightening allure. “It must tap into some pleasure zone that can’t [otherwise] be reached. I don’t know. I’ve never done it.”
“Black-Ass” Robin had. She was a thirty-something mother of at least two kids and, like many of the people with whom the Thornton brothers did business, a crackhead. Malice would camp in her apartment and sell crack to all her “fiend friends.” For every $100 he made, Robin got $20. She’d then spend it on crack. “Her kids were talking about being hungry, and there was nothing in the refrigerator,” he remembers. “I got them some groceries once… I just seen their mother spend her last money on dope, and that really fucked with me. Like, it fucked with me… Last I heard, she moved and was doing a little better.”
“This shit is overwhelming. Crack is a fuckin’ epidemic. It’s nothing to be proud of. It’s nothing to glorify. I wonder how many people my album has sent to jail. I know niggas listened to that shit and sold the best dope they got.”