Industry Rule #4080 -- by Angus Crawford, August 2006
If you forgot that hip hop music is big business just ask The Clipse. Malice and Pusha T have been getting jerked by Jive for four years and are perilously close to seeing their pictures next to Mic Geronimo on milk cartons.
Fortunately their two mixtapes Got It For Cheap Volumes 1 and 2 earned them plenty of accolades and kept their hardcore fans satisfied. On the other hand they lost the 106 and Park and TRL buzz they achieved from guest appearances with Justin Timberlake, songs like "When Was The Last Time" and the street anthem "Grindin'". Since they have been out of the public eye for so long the group is even relegated to appearing on MTV's Jam's Fab Five of the summer with newcomers Young Dro, Cham, Robert Thicke and Rick Ross. Its definitely good publicity but seasoned veterans and proven record sellers like The Clipse deserve better.
Too many times we have seen an artist's buzz killed by label politics. Over a decade ago The Lost Boyz were riding high after two singles the underrated "Lifestyles and The Rich and Shameless" and the catchy "Lex Coups Beamers and Benz". Instead of Legal Drug Money coming out at the peak of "Lex Coups" they had to wait almost a year and two more singles later, "Renee" and "Music Makes Me High", before their album was released. By then most people's favorite songs were played out and fair weathered fans decided not to buy the album. Imagine if Rick Ross could not capitalize on the popularity of "Hustlin" and had to wait until February for his album to see light.
While The Clipse do not have three singles burning up the radio and mixtapes like the LB Fam, they are still getting screwed in a similar way. After Lord Willin' they were real hot, arguably the streets number one group snatching the title from Mobb Deep. So instead of working on the next quality album like "Hell On Earth" or a classic like "Infamous" they are battling for face time with Alan Thicke's son.
The deck is seemingly stacked against Malice and Pusha T but don't bet against them. They still have a style that people love and, with the state of rap today, need to hear. The VA brothers also have the some of the best timing and smoothest deliveries around. Their flow on the stripped down "Grindin" is a lesson in Flowing 101 . And don't forget about those beats they get for cheap from Pharell. One beat from The Neptunes can take up a whole budget but The Clipse can lace an entire album with them.
Its been four years and soon fans will have to decide if the wait was worth it. Lets hope they support The Clipse through label shadiness otherwise we could be seeing them on tour with Ill and All Scratch for $12 a ticket.