It’s been over three years since fans heard a major release from the Virginia duo The Clipse. After releasing their debut album Lord Willin’ that fans and critics alike praised as a refreshing form of lyricism, the duo followed up with their more darker album Hell Hath No Fury which although far more grittier than their debut, was still critically acclaimed. Then in 2006, it seemed as if the rhymes stopped flowing from the duo.
And like their previous hit single “What Happened To That Boy” with Cash Money’s Baby, many fans were asking the same about The Clipse. What fans didn’t know is that the crew’s success brought some turmoil. After departing from a label they felt wasn’t supporting their vision, personnel changes at their new label also hindered their return as well as personal issues between each other and the incarceration of their long time manager and friend.
With all that drama, it is amazing that The Clipse just released an album that some critics are hailing as one of the brightest albums they have created to date. A lot has changed within the camp and we sat down with Pusha T and Malice to discuss what fans can expect with the new album, ‘Til the Casket Drops, the possibility of solo ventures and reuniting with Pharrell.
HipHopWired: How would you compare you relationship with Columbia versus Jive, what about this deal is better than before?
Pusha T: I just think that people are a little more aware of the type of group that we are and just trying. Everybody just trying to work towards a common goal of ensuring that our vision is a success. Not that Jive wasn’t or anything but just that personal relationships in the company stifled what it was that we were trying to do because [Jive] had issues with The Neptunes, but all of that stuff is over with.
HipHopWired: What took so long to drop this album because the last fans heard from you guys was back in 2006. For the fans who aren’t familiar with the mixtape circuit, you guys have dropped a lot of mixtapes but what took so long on the major?
Pusha T: I just think getting all the producers involved with scheduling and there was a little changing of the guard at Columbia when we first got there, but it also is all about timing. I think that we are in one the best phases in our lives both individually and as a group to come up with some great music and I think we did that with this album.
HipHopWired: The new album…production wise… I know you got Pharrell on it. On the Re-Up Gang album, Malice you had some lines that was going at P, how did ya’ll bring everything back into the fold?
Malice: I think everything has always been held in perspective, when you at a place where especially where we were musically and didn’t have outlets, just speaking things that’s on your mind, is your only outlet. There’s never really been nothing personal, we’ve always been family and when you just backed into a corner sometimes…your only therapy is your pen. You just go wherever it takes you. I’m a real writer, I write and I write what’s on my mind and as far as I’m concerned I speak the truth but as you can see we’re still family and it’s all good.
HipHopWired: There have been many track listings on the internet showing that you are working with various producers including Scott Storch, Timbaland and Diddy. How did these partnerships come about and what made you reach out to such an eclectic group of producers?
Pusha T: The tracks that actually made it on the album were the ones that were produced by The Hitmen [Shawn C and LV] and DJ Khalil and the Neptunes, so some of the tracks people are playing are bootleg. But we just decided that it was time to bring a different style, not saying that our sound is old, but as an artist your goal should be to bring creativity to each track that you rhyme on. I personally can’t write unless I am inspired so for me to write “Grinding” or “Mamma I’m So Sorry” is impossible because I am not in that place emotionally anymore.
HipHopWired: With a lot of artists complaining about the state of music, what can fans expect when they cop ‘Till the Casket Drops?
Pusha T: I think they’re just going to get Hip-Hop on steroids, pure energy, it’s all energy. A roller coaster ride of emotions, different flows, just everything that makes Hip-Hop what it is, of course it’s always lyric driven…it’s just us going out on a limb.
Malice: The whole mood of the album stayed constant unlike Lord Willin’. ‘Til the Casket Drops is like a roller coaster ride, because it is a roller coaster of emotions, you got angry records, you got street records, you got life changing records, you got inspirational records, you got female joints. It’s just a roller coaster ride.
HipHopWired: Let’s put music to the side for a second, you guys have a clothing line… Play Cloths that you can preview online. What made you venture into fashion and was this a passion that you’ve always had?
Pusha T: Basically when we were on hiatus, doing the mixtapes… we were doing our thing. We noticed that when we were doing shows, we would run into a thousand kids that were always commenting on our clothes. Like they knew we had on Bathing Apes General Jackets. When we saw that the fans were paying that much attention to what we were wearing, we thought we got to get involved in this, so we started putting it together.
HipHopWired: Whose idea was it, yours Pusha or Malice?
Pusha T: Mine.
HipHopWired: Where can people actually buy the clothes from, are there pieces in stores?
Malice: Play Cloths has been out for almost 1 year now. It’s been getting a lot of love from artists in the industry. Shout out to all the artists who been supporting us from day one… Jay Z, 50 Cent, Soulja Boy. Everybody has been supporting us, we appreciate it. They can also order it from the site: http://www.playcloths.com/blog/.
HipHopWired: What’s the deal with the Re-Up Gang, are you planning on releasing an album any time soon?
Pusha T: Well the Re-Up game actually consists of me, Malice and Ab-Liva. Definitely we’re going to be working with [Ab]- Liva on his solo album. He’s also featured on the ‘Till the Casket Drops album on a record called “Never Will It Stop” which is like 100 % Hip-Hop.
HipHopWired: Who did you work with on the track “Door Man” because a lot of fans call that the hardest track on the album.
Pusha T: The Neptunes. “Door Man” is a very hard track, it’s a very real record and it’s just street and ignorant, it really is. Have you checked out the “Door Man” video? It’s crazy.
HipHopWired: A lot of rappers have come out and shown support for you guys on the new album including Cam’ron, who is also featured on the track “Popular Demand.” With the buzz that’s around that, a lot of people are saying that’s the sound that the Dipset should have had originally. Are you planning on working with him on any collaboration albums?
Pusha T: I would totally love to work with Cam any time the chance comes up. I’m a fan of Cam and the Dipset movement so there are definitely talks.
HipHopWired: You have the clothing line, the Re-Up record label, the new album…what’s next for the Clips and what other projects are you working on that may be under the radar?
Pusha T: Honestly, it’s just full-fledged music for me. That’s it. I just want to get into music mode in 2010. All I see is The Clipse and then possibly some solo ventures and some of everything.
HipHopWired: When you say solo ventures are you meaning that you and Malice are possibly looking at doing something like Outkast did with a double disc that is still one album?
Pusha T: No, I would just say solo albums. I think we’d both do solo albums.
HipHopWired: What happened with your previous manager [Anthony Gonzalez, who recently struck a plea deal on a federal drug conspiracy charge and is due to be sentenced in January] since he had gotten busted on some charges a while back, does that make you all stray away from going as hard knowing that the Feds are going to be watching and listening to every lyric that ya’ll state?
Malice: That’s not going to change anything because if they’ve heard the music… I don’t know what else they can look to hear. There is really nothing else that they can look to hear, man.
HipHopWired: What’s your opinion on the state of Hip-Hop right now? A lot of people are saying that it sounds the same which honestly if you turn on the radio it does start to sound like you’re listening to the same song all day. What’s your opinion with that and what do you think that as an artist others need to do to bring some type of creativity back to it?
Pusha T: The state of Hip-Hop to me personally, I like it. I like the records I’m hearing. I just take the records and listen to them in the proper perspective. People think because we’re The Clipse that we are lyrical snobs, but we aren’t. I’ve been telling everybody all the time that I like Soulja Boy, I like “Turn My Swag On”, I like a lot of records. People are always talking about the state of Hip-Hop. It’s like dog, we’ve always had records that are lyrical, we’ve had all types, you just got to take it in its context.
HipHopWired: That’s definitely true but the only thing that people have some type of reservations about is the fact that all the records start to sound the exact same. Back in the day you did have the ones that were just party joints, but you also had the conscious, you had the lyrical you had the gritty, but there was a variety. I think the biggest complaint at this point is that there is no variety.
Where as you do have the party records it’s kind of redundant when all you hear is party records and I’m not saying that’s all that’s being made but that’s all the masses are being fed, you feel me?
Pusha T: That’s a radio problem, you can’t blame an artist for what radio controls. The records are being made and I don’t think it’s our fault that Mos Def, Jay Z and Kayne West’s conscious albums aren’t being blasted on the radio. They’re made and they’re good but no one gets to hear them because that is not what radio thinks everyone wants to listen to.
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