The return of the Clipse is upon us. The combined duo of Pusha-T and Malice have eventually negotiated past seemingly never-ending label issues, and after nearly four years (they did begin working on Hell Hath No Fury in 2003), their sophomore album is upon us. It is not the first time that the Clipse have experienced a battle in getting their music to the people, no, that particular adventure first occurred in the late 1990's when their 'debut' Exclusive Audio Footage, remained on the shelves at Elektra, never to see the light of day (although it is available on the net of course). I have one thing to say Thank God the initial label woes didn't discourage them, because they have dropped an absolute treat for Hip-Hop fans.
Hell Hath No Fury is of course, overseen by mentor and good friend of the Clipse, Pharrell Williams, so you know that the whole disc will be produced by the Neptunes. Four years ago, when the album was initially being made, I would have perceived this as a good thing, but with Chad and Pharrell's recent work, you can excuse me for thinking otherwise. To me, The Neptunes have digressed substantially from their original street sounds, and while this is to be expected you never want an artist to churn out the same style forever Justin Timberlake beats just don't do it for me. I want a return to 'Grindin', and that's exactly what I got.
So the opener, 'We Got It For Cheap' (following the same name of their hugely popular 'We Got It For Cheap mixtapes), takes me back to The Neptunes that I recall. That thumping, earth-shaking, minimalist knock that is perfect for the cooked-like-crack rhymes the duo push. And Pusha-T opens up like he's been spitting everyday for the last four years:
Feel em' as soon as you hear em'/
Upon my arrival the dope-dealers cheer em'/
Just like a revival the verse tends to steer em'/
Through a life in the fast lane, I German engineer em'/
No serum can cure, all the pain I've endured/
From crack to rap, to back to sellin it pure
Its evident the Clipse haven't changed their cocaine influenced raps on Hell Hath No Fury, so people who thought it got a little boring on 2002's Lord Willin', better get over it quick, otherwise they are going to miss out on one of the best releases of the year. They give us hit after hit on this one, and the more I think about it, the more I cannot recall a beat I have liked more than 'Mr. Me Too' in 2006. The understated hollow thump of Pharrell's trademark drums, the contrasting sharp snares, and the dare I say it - computer-error like synth is malicious, while Malice and Pusha with the help of a slightly average Pharrell verse let all the Me Too's in the world know you aren't like them. 'Momma I'm Sorry' expresses a small amount of remorse for the lifestyle they have chosen to exhibit (Momma I'm so sorry/ I'm so obnoxious/ My only accomplice my conscience) with the help of jumpy organs, and 'Nightmares' with a rare appearance by Bilal, exhibits the old 'with money comes problems' adage, done with honesty and class complete with absolutely necessary Tony Montana references.
There are few guest appearances on the CD, and it is just as well, because the Clipse are in fine form on this one. Even though they force coke-filled rhymes upon the listener, rarely does anyone do it in a more entertaining and inventive manner. Fellow Re-Up Gang member Ab-Liva shows up on the positively banging 'Ride Around Shining' and contributes with an entertaining verse, while Pusha steals the show with plain heat:
The black Martha Stewart, let me show you how to do it/
Break down pies to pieces, make cocaine quiches/
Money piles high as my nieces/
Hefty bags full of cash, cars full of ass/
Rolex presidential, bitch fill the glass
The futuristic sounds of 'Trill' further exemplify what is so fantastic about this album the Clipse successfully combine the old and new the revered and respected aspect of lyricism, with beats to match only this time the beats are updated, but stay true to the nature of the music, the nature of Hip-Hop. Best Hip-Hop album of the year? Too early to say, but definitely a contender. The long-awaited release of Hell Hath No Fury may have been a blessing in disguise. It gave Pusha, Malice and the Neptunes time to create a cohesive, serious and defining album. I only hope it takes a little less time to receive the next offering from rap's own Scarface-like siblings.