Clipse: Til The Casket Drops
Brothers Terrence “Pusha T” and Gene “Malice” Thornton—a.k.a. Clipse—spend a surprising amount of their third official album (not counting mixtapes and collaborative showcases) sounding both upbeat and reflective. “Freedom,” which opens Til The Casket Drops, begins with Pusha rapping, “With every line written and all I have given / Music’s been nothing more than a self-made prison,” with Malice later musing, “Like Napa Valley vintage, my flow is fermented.” There’s less of the snarling, knotty bumptiousness that made both Lord Willin’ (2002) and Hell Hath No Fury (2006) instant classics, even though there’s still plenty of clever talk about selling cocaine and the myriad internal pressures it brings. Still, it’s noticeable when they puncture that bad-ass mythos on “Counseling”: “I’m used to getting what, when I want, where I want, how I want / Then them girls holler, ‘You ain’t shit’ ... You ain’t alone, I too am a sleazebag / I guess I need celebrity rehab.” It’s also obvious they’re going for airplay more than usual: The Neptunes provide “Counseling” and “I’m Good” with airy, laid-back synths, while the failed “All Eyes On Me” (with Keri Hilson) gets banging, cartoonish percussion. The real action is on “Popular Demand (Popeyes),” on which Pusha, Malice, and Cam’ron trade assured, laid-back verses over a track with the same qualities. “I’m back by popular demaaaaand,” Pharrell drawls on the chorus; on moments like these, it’s not hard to hear why.