Pusha and Malice live in a world of their own devising. You’re welcome to visit, but don’t try to tell them they’re imagining things.
Hip-hop may be an ever-changing beast, but one thing is constant: The Clipse’s sense of self. They might not be shouting it from the rooftops, but they clearly think they’re the best in the game—which is a little surprising, given their track record. After receiving a platinum plaque for their eerie and exceptionally witty debut, Lord Willin’, they fell into label purgatory. Four years and two mixtapes later, the even darker Hell Hath No Fury had critics and fans fawning, but still bricked like a Kwame Brown jumper. Despite the difficulties, Pusha T and Malice still believe in the Clipse. And somehow, their bravado is understandable; it’s what’s gotten them here, after all. When the Internet became saturated with no-name MCs and endless mixtapes, they concluded that fans value quality over quantity. When the economy cratered, they figured their fashion taste could sustain a clothing brand. And when they signed their Re-Up Gang label deal with Sony, they felt strong enough to branch out from under the Neptunes’ wings and recruit outside production for their third album, Till The Casket Drops. In fact, that unshakable certainty is probably why our boy KAWS jumped at the chance to design their album art (and this story). The whole thing may sound more crazy than confident, sure—but the best usually are.
Hell Hath No FuryHell Hath No FuryLord Willin’Hell Hath No Fury
Why is it your favorite album?
Is there any push to become more commercial this time around?
Lord Willin’ was responsible for bringing an emphasis on lyricism back to drug rap. Then, that whole style blew up and become commercialized over the last decade. As all that was happening, you guys were public about your disdain: “Fuck that other shit. That shit is wack.”
That’s the essence of the art form. What is your view of the rap game at this very moment?
That sounded kinda apprehensive. You sounded much more genuine about it, Mal.
Let’s talk extracurricular activities. You guys have Play Cloths now, which seems to be doing pretty well. Where’d that come from?
I remember you guys coming to St. John’s University years ago, maybe ’04; you were wearing Bapes and no one knew what it was. I was in the crowd, and all you could hear was, “What the fuck are they wearing? What’s that T-shirt? What’s that sweatshirt?” And then two years later, the shit explodes.
In this new age of the industry, where you have artists getting signed off one single, there are rappers just putting more and more music out. There are people on Nah Right that drop like 13 songs a week. You guys seem more…
Yeah, it makes it very disposable.
That’s a good point.
You don’t think it’ll help if you released a song every week?
What’s the goal? What’s the promised land for you two?
Do the fans play into that at all?