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Music Review: Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury

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"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."

While William Congreve did not become a household name with his 1697 play The Mourning Bride, this quote from the play became a legend in the English language. We have since transformed it into "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." What we know for sure is that it is indeed true. Hell cannot match up to the fury of a woman's bitching, whining, pestering, and refusal to cooperate.

Just kidding. That is a topic for another day.

Malice and Pusha T (Gene and Terrence Thornton), the duo hailing from Virginia and collectively known as Tha Clipse, have been spittin' the pyrex bars for a pretty minute. From my review of their 2002 major debut Lord Willin’, I'm sure you remember the story of their journey through the industry. Coming up through the game with the help of the then-unknown production team known as The Neptunes, Clipse signed a deal with Elektra Records in '97 and everything seemed promising; but what's this? Their album was shelved and that was that.

Exclusive Audio Footage never saw the light of day and has become a lost gem in the record industry. As the Neptunes crawled their way up into fame, this allowed the Thornton brothers to be in a better position to finally get some exposure.

Lord Willin' hit in the summer of 2002, backed by two strong singles, "Grindin'" and "When The Last Time." Finally, it seemed things were looking up and that their troubles were behind them – Doh! Their home at Arista Records was no longer secure as there were some complications within a company merger, which prompted Arista to warp into its sister label, Jive Records. Since 2003, Malice and Pusha were hard at work on their sophomore offering. Only then, in late 2006, were they able to put it out. Was it worth the wait?

Yes it fuckin' was. Tha Clipse struck back and they did it with a fury (no pun intended). Yes, you could say they still haven't changed their choice of subject matter, but why do that when you are the one who does it best? There is nobody touching the Clipse right now on the pyrex bars. Listening to them is a guilty pleasure, as I find myself nodding my head to the glorification of cocaine sales, but you know why I do it? Pusha T and Malice are talented rappers, simple as that. Young Jeezy can try to be "The Snowman" and rap about pushin' weight, or he can rap about whatever he wants – he'll still sounds like trash. Hip Hop is a new battlefield.

I used to be concerned with what rappers were writing about rather than how talented they actually were. This caused me to praise anything that was underground and abhor any rappers that were in music videos and bragging about riches. I have evolved as a listener. Not to say I still don't enjoy a serious, heartfelt track, but I now look for talent a bit over substance.

I'd rather listen to Papoose spit his typical street thuganomics that he's kicked for the past 17 mixtapes than listen to Sage Francis rap something "deep." I don't mean to hate, but that's just how it is. Sure I believe that Sage raps from the heart, but Papoose wins me over because of a more dominant flow, multi's, and style. Get the picture? The same goes for Clipse. The duo hasn't changed their subject matter, not once, yet I still find each song to be enjoyable. They are just that good.

1. We Got it for Cheap ft. Spanish Lee (4.5 stars)
2. Momma I'm So Sorry (5 stars)
3. Mr. Me Too ft. Pharrell (4 stars)
4. Wamp Wamp ft. Slim Thug (4 stars)
5. Ride Around Shining ft. Ab-Liva (5 stars)
6. Dirty Money (4 stars)
7. Hello New World ft. Pharrell (5 stars)
8. Keys Open Doors (5 stars)
9. Ain't Cha feat. Re-Up Gang (4.5 stars)
10. Trill (2.5 stars)
11. Chinese New Year ft. Rosco (5 stars)
12. Nightmares ft. Bilal (6 stars)

The first thing that jumps at you about this album is the tone. Like many previous Hip Hop classics, Hell Hath No Fury beautifully embodies the tone and overall feel of the album to add to its marvel. You feel like this entire LP is a book, and the different songs are just chapters. It has such a conglomerate feel. "We Got It For Cheap" (also the name of their much-heralded mixtape) is the intro track and instantly grapples for your attention.

The extremely unorthodox Neptunes beat is a banger, with the siblings spitting their usual coke tales. "So many deceive ya / I'm in touch with the Keys, move over Alicia". One thing to note about this album is that Pusha T has really risen up. On Lord Willin' I always felt that Malice was the stronger of the two and Pusha was always trying hard to keep up, but with this album, it has changed. Pusha has definitely equaled Malice, and damn near passed him.

The Neptunes really stunned me with this album. Of course, being a Clipse album, you know all of the songs were Neptunes productions, and this would make some Hip Hop purists go "ehhh" because of their reputation of being mainstream hit producers. Throw that thought out the window! Pharrell and Chad Hugo surprise the hell out of me here with a handful of heaters. Very experimental and exciting, the production carries the album's dark and creepy feel. This is not just the feeling of a Mafioso flick, but a Mafioso flick that has elements of comedy and action. It's got all of the above.

My current favorite track is "Momma I'm So Sorry." If I could describe it in a single word, it would be “heat.” What is this beat, seriously? It sounds like nine different Casio keyboards being played at once with a bomb ticking in the back. Or wait – could that be an accordion with menacing quick hi-hats that basically command your head to sway back and forth?

The song is basically an apology, a sarcastic one, for their obnoxious and bragging attitudes, not to mention why they even got caught up in the "snow business." Sure they say “sorry,” but you get the sense that their favorite part is bringing up what made them join the grind. However, this is not just a juvenile moment of bragging. Toward the end of the song we actually catch a moment of thought as they sincerely apologize to their loved ones, but still explain that they can't leave now, and that they do this for them.

"Same hustle, cept my hustle now flows I once gave it away, at 30 grams a O
That accounts for all them days in the cold
Feels like kissing cake mix, can't wait to lick the bowl
But it's a bigger picture, homes trust I done seen it
From Frankfurt to Cologne…Oslo to Sweden
From Italy's Milan to the shores of Nepali
Now I consider Ferraris, and Salvador Dalis"

We get to the lead single "Mr. Me Too," which is really a hit or miss song. For a while it was a bust for me, as I completely despised the song. I saw the Neptunes trying to recreate the simplistic magic they provided on "Grindin'," but failing and just coming up with a clone of Snoop's "Drop It Like It's Hot." However, the song has seriously grown on me and I've come to play it frequently. It loses a point for Pharrell's embarrassing verse and hook, but Malice and Pusha keep it dope with the verses.

The song basically is an anthem for originality – that everyone else has just been clones. Tha Clipse are here doing their thing and people come along and say "Oh! Me, too." One thing I didn't like was the video. While they are rapping about setting trends, what is it I see? Possibly every music video cliché imaginable – cars, women, and stunna shades? Jeez, talk about fucking up the song concept. Oh well, this is pretty much one of the few stains on the album.

"Wamp, Wamp (What it Do?)" is the 2nd single featuring Houston's prince, Slim Thug. This is another hit-or-miss type song, but it should be more of a hit for most. The production — pheeewww — where to begin? It sounds like a clash between an African tribe and a Scottish bagpipe squad. Loud drums and pipes keep the production hot, while Slim Thug's chorus should stay in your head for the remainder of the day. Tha Clipse doesn’t just brag here; they brag hard. It's very in-your-face and ferocious, and it is the hunger with which they rap that drives the song.

"Ride Around Shining" features Re-Up member Ab-Liva and one of the most memorable beats on the album. Once again this isn't the sound that any other mainstream album would have, and that's good. It's so strange and different, but still dope. This time the Neptunes use some kind of xylophone and an "Ugh!" sample that hits three times in each loop. It's chilling, yet dope.

I'm sure you know what this is about; still, I can't stress how well the Clipse can keep you interested in what they say even though you know what is coming. It's as if they try hard to cover every single aspect of the coke-pushing lifestyle and demand that you listen to each part. This particular song deals more specifically with the riches they get through it. No, this isn't another "Escalade with the 20's, Jacob watch, and a platinum grill" ode. Nobody raps like the Clipse; at least nobody is quite as imaginative in their descriptions.

I think "Dirty Money" is an interesting idea. It's a song that deals with spending money, but not just any money. Oh no, Clipse talks about the dirty, evil, corrupted money they have not earned justly, but through their nasty trade. It's not just about how they love using it, but that the dirty money is really attractive to women. The females love some danger, so when you get the dollars through such a method, you're a chick magnet in a jif.

The hook is probably the most radio-friendly on the whole album, and the electric guitar loop on the production is dangerously catchy. Some sources say this will be the next single, which I think is perfectly appropriate. On the opposite side of the spectrum is "Hello New World," as there is nothing poppy about this one. I find this to be the centerpiece of the album, and a classic. "Hello New World" is about the rise from the slums into the lavish lifestyle. This is Thug Motivation 101, fuck Young Jeezy! The ambiance of the song is powerful indeed, and Malice and P rap with pure sincerity. Everything about the song just screams "classic" and it is easily one of the gems from the LP.

Leave it to the Clipse to frighten the shit out of you. The production of "Keys Open Doors" is something out of a horror movie. The hair-raising opera and the small triangle clanging in the back make for a menacing beat. The subject matter? Look no further than the title because you know when they talk about keys, they don't mean the small metal ones that you need to get home. Once again, the topic isn't anything particularly new, but Tha Clipse certainly spit like nobody else does, with a charismatic flow and the deadly rhyme scheme.

We have the momentum change once again on "Ain't Cha", as it is a bit lighter in sound. This probably should have been a single as it certainly has the appeal. The Re-Up Gang is featured on here, and while Sandman and Ab-Liva aren't as dope as Tha Clipse, they still hold their own nicely. The beat sounds a bit more conventional for the Neptunes compared to the rest of the production on the album, but it's pretty ill indeed.

"86 karats, you know how much digging in the planet this could take?
Patent leather BAPEs…closet like planet of the BAPE!
Monkey see, monkey do, monkeys following in place
Like I'm living in an episode of Planet of the Apes"

Fire.

"Trill" is basically average as hell, and could easily be skipped. It's not really awful, but pretty much has no replay value because of the horribly droning beat. Malice and Pusha still have the rapping on lock, but I can't sit through this production for more than a minute.

I am also prompted to skip it because the next track is the dangerous "Chinese New Year". Rosco P. Coldchain joins the brothers here for their hardest brag track yet. The song basically spells out that this is not a crew you want to be messing with, unless you want your "crib sounding like Chinese New Year". Oh man, I dare you to bump this and not turn up the bass. Once again, a strongly unconventional beat for Chad and Pharrell, but that is a pleasant surprise, more than anything. With the squeaky synths and thumping bass, the beat is as hard as the verses.

I cannot think of a better way that Clipse could have closed this album off than "Nightmares." While every other rapper will glorify the lifestyle and sum themselves up as the boss of it with no setbacks, Tha Clipse actually allow a chance to bare their souls and show that even though they live lavishly, they are still human and have every one of the emotions we all do. Bilal is on the chorus and the bridge, and simply does an incredible job. While Malice and Pusha T have been on top of their game for this whole album, it is here where I think they truly reach their potential. This is not just a descriptive coke tale with a blind eye to humanity, but rather a real look at how a drug lord would think. If that's not real, then I don't know what is. It’s easily one of the best songs of the year.

Kool G. Rap started the Mafioso tales early in his career. When Raekwon put out Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, this was not just an idea; it was also a common theme within the rap genre. Nas, AZ, Jay-Z, and everybody else followed suit as it was now cool to be the cocaine don, the drug lord with a mink coat sitting in your Louis Vuitton chair, rubbing your hands together slowly, thinking about how you're going to handle the situation. This trend died out at the turn of the millennium when the South took the Hip Hop throne. However, there is still one name carrying the coke rap on their back, and that is Tha Clipse.

If you don't believe this album is hot, merely look at the sparkling reception that Hell Hath has gotten all across the boards. They made waves by getting the much-desired "XXL" rating from XXL Magazine. While magazine reviews aren't exactly the word of God, Hell Hath No Fury is only the fifth album to get the perfect score from them, and it is in some good company.

Nobody really expected the Thornton brothers to come back with this strong of a bang, but I always knew they had it in them. With their rapping game elevated and the Neptunes providing their best production work for an entire album yet, Tha Clipse have given us a modern-day classic.

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