Can Clipse Ever Make Another Dope Album?

June 6th, 2013

(Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

By Jake Rohn

It’s been over 10 years since we first heard Pharrell drop that signature “Grin-deeng!” before brothers Malice and Pusha T introduced themselves to the world on their first single, “Grindin.” Since then it has been a roller-coaster ride for the Virginia-based duo. After their platinum debut album, Lord Willin’, Clipse learned firsthand how shady the music business could be. Their label, Star Trak, moved from Jive to Geffen, with one catch: Jive would retain Clipse. Despite a heavy buzz, three hit singles and high profile features with artists like Birdman and Justin Timblerlake, the label would keep the two on ice, refusing to even take meetings about a follow-up album. So when Jive gave them lemons, they, along with the Re-Up Gang, made one of the hottest series of mixtapes in hip hop history: We Got It for Cheap Vol. 1-4. After returning to the major label scene and dropping a couple more albums, something happened.

Older brother Malice found God, became No Malice and decided to embark upon a new path in hip hop that did not include the cocaine-laced rhymes of his past. Pusha T on the other hand found success in his new-found solo career, teaming up with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music, and dropping the critically acclaimed official mixtape Fear of God II. The Thorton brothers remain close.

In his new single, “Bury That,” featuring Jon Bibbs, released earlier this week, No Malice left a lot of people wondering if what he was really doing was burying any hope of a Clipse reunion. It definitely was not a diss track, in fact he actually gave a lot of props to his younger brother’s new-found solo success, and even credited their past work as a duo with bringing authenticity to an industry that was becoming a caricature of itself, with lyrics like, “They would have you think I’m at odds with my sibling/How they look alike, yet bear no resemblance/ All hail the Clipse and all of their magnificence.” But as the verse continues it almost sounds like an internal conflict with No Malice fighting his former self. “But I cannot deny my deliverance/It is no coincidence, that God chose to use my brethren/To show the magnitude of these ties that I’m severing.” The righteous rapper spit, seemingly closing the door on the idea of a Clipse reunion. In the song’s final line, he adds further doubt citing another duo that split apart. “Please, it’s time to let go of the past/Of the best duo ever I guess I am an Out(k)ast.”

Would it even be possible for the Clipse to make an album together? What if it was like an alter ego, good vs. evil-type of record? As creative as music is, No Malice’s new core audience is a group that has very little tolerance for hanging out with someone who raps about crime, material wealth and sexual exploits for a living. Conversely, people might think that No Malice is trying to “save” his brother. But if that was the case, Pusha probably wouldn’t want to hang around someone that is constantly trying to convince him to renounce his entire way of life.

As a Clipse fan it pains me to say it, but it really would be hard to imagine a Clipse album that made any sense and still allowed for both Pusha T and No Malice to remain true to their ideological differences. The silver lining is that Pusha T is on top of his game lyrically and with the G.O.O.D. Music team behind him, you can bet he’s about to make the industry pay attention to him just as he did more than a decade ago when he and his brother first signed with Pharrell. And Malice, in his own right, just might change the way the hip hop audience looks at Christian rappers. After all, his past is still more authentic than even some of today’s gangsta rappers. Regardless of their past, the Thorton brothers will still undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on hip hop’s future.

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