Clipse & Pusha T

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Lord Willin' (2002), 6.5/10
Hell Hath No Fury (2006), 7/10
Til the Casket Drops (2009), 5/10
Pusha T:
Fear of God II - Let Us Pray (2011), 4/10
My Name Is My Name (2013), 5.5/10
King Push - Darkest Before Dawn - The Prelude (2015), 5/10
Daytona (2018), 6.5/10 (mini)
It's Almost Dry (2022), 6/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

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 Young Boy 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; and 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 returned with 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 Nightmares. 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), Untouchable, and MFTR. 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.

Pusha T's It's Almost Dry (2022), his first solo album to top the Billboard charts and yet another concept around coke, is another peak of his career as a rapper, although the production is a mixed blessing. On one hand, Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes produces Neck and Wrist (wavering synths over trap beats), Let the Smokers Shine the Coupes (with cute piano and vocal effects), Open Air (lifted in the atmosphere by flutes and choir) and Brambleton; on the other hand, Kanye West sloppily produces Diet Coke like this was music for a county fair, and buries Pusha T's verses under the most invasive samples in Dreamin of the Past (Donny Hathaway's cover of John Lennon's Jealous Guy) and Just So You Remember (Colonel Bagshot's Six Day War). The latter in particular ranks as one of Pusha T's best rapping performances of his solo career. I Pray for You, produced by West in collaboration with Timothy "Labrinth" McKenzie (the black Englishman who scored the TV series "Euphoria"), sounds like a satire of gospel music with its loud distorted church organ and mystical choir.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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