Clipse, the rapping duo of
Virginia-based brothers Gene "Malice" and Terrence "Pusha T" Thornton, were discovered
by Pharrell Williams (one half of The
Neptunes) and recorded
Exclusive Audio Footage (1999), that was not released.
The ghostly single Grindin, immersed in a sparse soundscape,
propelled their first released album,
Lord Willin' (2002), that also contained the
driving James Brown-ian funk-soul jam with vintage saxophone riff
and the bouncy soul pseudo-ballad Gangsta Lean.
A formal balance between production and rapping yields
Ma I Don't Love Her, with a female choir reminiscent of vocal pop groups of the 1940s, and a New Orleans-esque melody;
the carnival atmosphere of Cot Damn.
No less intriguing, however, is the
disruptive anti-eloquent arrangement of When The Last Time.
After the two-volume mixtape We Got It 4 Cheap (2005), the brothers
Hell Hath No Fury (Star Trak, 2006), a sonic jewel produced by the Neptunes that better emphasized their ferocious act.
The elegance of the sound and the elegance of the rapping perfectly
counterpointed each other.
Highlights include the comic exotic skit Wamp Wamp,
the insistent Dirty Money and
the pulsating Chinese New Year.
But perhaps even more telling is how the
chopped-up rhythm is enhanced by a dysfunctional accordion in
Momma I'm So Sorry.
Less impressive is the venture into conventional soul balladry of
The melodic peaks are hijacked by a
Latin-electronic blend (Hello New World) and
scifi-synth and cricket-y buzz (Trill).
Alas, they lost their bite on
Til the Casket Drops (2009), produced by DJ Khalil and Sean C & LV.
Pusha T launched his solo career with the mediocre mixtape
Fear of God II - Let Us Pray (2011), which nonetheless contains one of
his best raps, the desolate Alone in Vegas.
My Name Is My Name (2013) is a rather boring experience, despite production help from Kanye West and the Neptunes. It should have been an EP with only
the two minimalist songs that are two of his all-time artistic peaks,
Nosetalgia, featuring Kendrick Lamar, and
Numbers on the Boards, plus Pain.
The lyrics are obsessed with drugs.
Stories of drugs, again, make up most of
King Push - Darkest Before Dawn - The Prelude (2015), which is notably
mainly for the waste of talents in songs like MPA (Kanye West, A$SAP, The-Dream) and Crutches (five producers!). Overproduced, the album fares better in
FIFA, gracefully produced by Q-Tip,
Got Em Covered (with a beat in the Neptunes tradition),
The seven-song mini-album Daytona (2018), basically a collaboration with Kanye West, has the usual (over)dose of coke raps but this time the minimalist
soundscapes are disorienting and there is no filler.
The Games We Play, If You Know You Know and
Infrared rank with his best.
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