The Clipse are brothers Pusha T and Malice. They're two gifted rappers often found rapping over some of the best produced beats in hip hop thanks to their partnership with The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams & Chad Hugo). Their first two albums Lord Willin' and Hell Hath No Fury were very successful. So, I was drawn in by the potential of stellar production and great rhyming skills.
Til the Casket Drops has interesting bookend tracks at the beginning and end. "Freedom" is the surprisingly introspective opener that's about as close to emo as most hip hop will ever get. The song's lyrics show a vulnerable side to the Clipse while the music has a dramatic feel. Then there's "Footsteps" and "Life Change" a pair of tracks that approach the conscious rap sub-genre. On "Life Change" the brothers confess and basically witness, in a spiritual fashion.
This positive track where the Lord is referenced intrigued me. It made sense that the rappers would have matured from their early success and admitted crack selling days, became family men, and had a different perspective on life. It would have been a much better image to promote, but I suppose it wouldn't have been as popular or lucrative. Unfortunately, the rest of the tracks don't reflect this new perspective as they devolve into the same old materialistic, gangster mess you've heard a thousand times.
Kanye West, who continues to reprise his role as genius producer and adequate egotistic rapper, is featured on the appropriately titled "Kinda Like a Big Deal". It's the perfect vehicle for the braggadocios West and the Clipse. There's plenty of the obligatory materialistic show and tell. Right away I was reminded why I stopped listening to most mainstream hip hop. "Never Will It Stop" and "Door Man" continue the bragging as the Clipse find more and more clever ways to say: "we've got more money than you." It's disappointing after hearing the potential that's there on the aforementioned tracks that have a more personal touch.
"There Was a Murder" has a great reggae-infused beat that matches the murder mystery subject matter. Unfortunately, it was hard for me to really enjoy as it promoted the 'no snitchin' mentality that's prevalent in many urban communities.
Til the Casket Drops was most enjoyable for me when the tracks weren't so materialistic or negative. If you're a fan of mainstream hip-hop, then you'll like the Clipse latest album as it's still a step above much of the hip hop on the airwaves. The production is above average as is the lyrical delivery. I just wish the subject matter wasn't so stale.