|Next Project:||Til the Casket Drops|
|Twitter:||Clipse on Twitter|
When it comes to making the best of a bad situation, few can compete with The Clipse. When former label Jive gave the Virginia Beach natives lemons, Malice and Pusha T rose to the occasion and then some, cooking up stark, paranoid audio crack in the form of ‘06 coke-rap classic Hell Hath No Fury. In the three years since, things have grown considerably sweeter for the brothers Thornton—having found greener pastures at Columbia Records, the duo are preparing to make their triumphant return to record store shelves with third full-length Til the Casket Drops
On the hotly-anticipated album, Malice and Pusha will synthesize HHNF‘s darkness with the more positive-minded vibe of their ‘02 debut to create music that will both appeal to their hardcore fanbase and expand their mainstream reach. Fueled by the success of Booth-approved singles “Kinda Like A Big Deal” (ft. Kanye), “I’m Good,” and “All Eyes On Me” (ft. Pharrell Williams & Keri Hilson), the long-awaited set is scheduled to drop this October via Columbia and the duo’s own Re-Up Gang imprint.
In their third exclusive interview with DJ Z, the Clipse step into the Booth to discuss the street/mainstream balance they strike on their forthcoming LP, the possibility of dropping separate solo sets in the future, and Malice’s unique approach to video-blogging.
Listen to the Interview
Clipse Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Virginia Beach duo who are finally set to release their long-awaited Columbia Records debut, Til the Casket Drops, this October. Please welcome the brothers Thornton, Pusha T and Malice! Fellas, how are you?
Malice: What up, what up, what up? What’s goin’ on with you, Z?
Pusha T: Yo, what’s the deal?
DJ Booth: Thank you for joinin’ me, guys. It’s been a while—I think we talked about a year ago, shortly after the Re-Up gang album was released, and I asked you, “What is the most important thing that has to happen in order for the Clipse to see long-lasting success?”, and you guys said, very straight-to-the-point, “We need a planned-out marketing campaign.” So, fellas, less than two months away from the release of the new album, is a planned-out marketing campaign in place so that you guys can see that ultimate success?
Pusha T: Definitely, definitely, man. What we’re doin’ right now is runnin’ the streets and connectin’ the dots with all our ventures, as far as the fashion, the music, and the touring, trying to bring everyone into our world. These last couple months are nothing more than beatin’ up the ‘net and giving everybody the insight and pushin’ these records.
DJ Booth: I know firsthand from our previous interviews that your label situation at Jive was not satisfying. But let’s be honest: at the end of the day, you guys released two classic albums. So, during the creation of Til the Casket Drops did Columbia, the new label, put any pressure on you guys to make music that was not your sound, just so they could make back a quick dime?
Malice: Nah, man. The labels really can’t pressure the Clipse at all. We pretty much, since the beginning, did what it is we do. Actually, the story of our lives has been, they ask us, “What are you gonna do?” or “How’s it goin’ down?” We definitely spearheaded our project, and we put our heads together many times with Pharrell, and came up with our plan of attack. All we need the label to do is to shut up and execute, and let us do what we do. So it’s never any pressure; the records that we make are the records that we love.
DJ Booth: I know that you guys have shied away from giving anybody any specific release dates to this point. Now, obviously, it’s gonna be in October, but, before that, what do you attribute the delays and the constant [going] back to the studio, changing things up? Was that you guys, or was that the label saying, “We don’t really want you to move this project in this [direction]?”
Pusha T: It was more of a scheduling thing. There were times when we would go on lapses and get in with the Neptunes and so on and so forth. Working with these different producers, whether it be the Neptunes, Sean C & LV or Khalil, you can’t get in when you need to and have everything done when you want it done. And then, we’re from Virginia Beach, so, on top of that we’re on the road. It was more of a scheduling thing, like, “Yo, let’s not say nothing—let’s do what we’ve gotta do, and as it gets closer and we put everything together and we can get a definitive date, then we’ll start talkin’ more on it.”
DJ Booth: Well, I’ll tell you what: the one benefit I can see of being’ from Virginia Beach is, you guys must be rackin’ up hella airline miles—you probably have enough to take a few flights overseas for free, right?
Pusha T: [laughs] Sure.
Malice: [laughs] Yeah, straight up!
DJ Booth: Now, the title of the new album could indicate that you guys plan to be rapping until it’s all said and done, till it’s all over—is this a true indication of what you guys were goin’ for with the “Til the Casket Drops” title?
Malice: Basically, it’s synonymous with, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” We’re still out here grindin’, we’re still out here hustlin’, we’re still out here tryin’ to make everything fit, make everything work, and it’s just not gonna stop man. It’s not gonna stop till it’s all said, and done, [till] it’s over, “Till the Casket Drops.” I think that pretty much goes for life in general, man: you just keep pressin’ forward no matter what setbacks, no matter what delays. You just don’t stop, you give it your all.
DJ Booth: Okay, so basically what you’re saying is that we’re not gonna hear one of those premature “We’re retiring” speeches or blogs?
Malice: Nah, man. [laughs] Nah…
DJ Booth: ‘Cause I’m getting’ sick of those.
Malice: Keep moving… if it ain’t one thing, it’s another; you just keep it movin’.
DJ Booth: I took some questions via Twitter, and one stood out. It’s from a man named Tareak Humphries, and he wrote, “Clipse, I’ve heard the new singles. Why are you starving us for that raw-ass flow and vivid, HD imagery?” So, guys, should Tareak look for food elsewhere, or is this album gonna satisfy his needs?
Pusha T: Definitely, man. I think we’re gonna keep continuing to give you that raw edge and the vivid imagery. It’s not the Clipse if it’s not that.
DJ Booth: Do you feel like, on the single choices thus far, that has been at all in jeopardy?
Pusha T: No.
Malice: Listen: definitely not. What you’ve gotta understand is, the Clipse, we’re built off of self-containment. We didn’t mingle with a whole bunch of different rappers and do a whole bunch of different collabs from the first album to the second album, and now this is our third album, and it’s about expanding. We always feed the streets—I don’t think anyone has hotter street joints than we got, especially on this album. At the same time as we cater to our hardcore fanbase and the streets, we branch out as well. And listen: the new single, that’s nothing new for the Clipse. You’ve got to understand that we were the first ones to [collaborate] with Justin Timberlake. We’re the ones who gave you ‘When’s the Last Time” and “Gangsta Lean” and [songs] like that. So this ain’t nothing new, and the thing about the Clipse is we always stay true, lyrically, to what it is we do. Nothing ever goes lacking, just because we’re expanding—you know what you get when you get a Clipse album, at all times.
DJ Booth: See, that’s the reassurance I think he needed, because, frankly, a lot of people have a short memory—they don’t wanna remember back to when you guys did that stuff.
Malice: No, definitely. We’ve got the streets on lock.
Pusha T: We were were the first rappers [to work] with the Backstreet Boys!
Malice: Yeah, really. The Backstreet Boys—like, we did that! [laughs]
Pusha T: We did it with comfort, and then laugh and give you the hardest drug record ever.
DJ Booth: [laughs] You guys are datin’ yourselves by name-dropping the Backstreet Boys. Don’t do that!
Pusha T: We got to! I ain’t afraid of it!
Malice: Hey, we did it!
DJ Booth: Your new single “All Eyes On Me” has been on our Rap Chart for roughly six weeks. Does the title of a song like “All Eyes On Me” accurately depict how you’re feeling, knowing that there’s that expectation to release a project that’s nothing short of critical acclaim?
Pusha T: I don’t really feel the pressure. I don’t feel the pressure at all. I feel like, damn, if anything I think everybody understands that we’ve given them classic albums, classic material, and classic mixtapes. I don’t feel like everybody’s lookin’, I just think they want good music.
DJ Booth: Now, I have to ask you guys, ‘cause I never asked you before: have you considered or even discussed eventually recording separate solo projects?
Malice: Yeah, we definitely have that in the works. I think Pusha’s gonna do his solo project first, I’m definitely gonna do my solo project, and it’s all about expanding the business under the Re-Up Gang, and that’s what we’re shooting for. So, we’ve got the Clipse album, Pusha will do his solo [album], I’m gonna do my solo [album], we’ll come back together as the Clipse, and [do] whatever’s gonna generate business for the Clipse.
DJ Booth: I thought about this next question, and there’s really no way to ask it without it sounding fruity, so you’ll have to excuse me: do you guys feel as though, musically, you complete one another?
Pusha T: As far as the Clipse?
DJ Booth: Yes.
Pusha T: As far as the Clipse, yeah, I feel like we definitely complement each other well. I feel like you’re gettin’ two different dynamics, and two different points of view and perspectives.
Malice: And how I view the Clipse is, I think a lot of people view Pusha as just that raw energy, that raw, uncut, flashy, fly type, ready to battle or take on the world lyrically, period, just that excitement! When people look at me, I think they see an intellectual, a deep thought process in what I’m sayin’ and havin’ something to say. I think when the two come together, that makes the Clipse, and I just think that’s the best of both worlds.
DJ Booth: Pusha, do you have anything to elaborate on what Malice just said?
Pusha T: I think that sums it up.
DJ Booth: Proof you guys connect on a higher level—he knew exactly what you were gonna say!
Malice: [laughs] Yeah… telepathy.
DJ Booth: Exactly. Next question’s for Malice only: a lot of artists video blog, but I don’t think anybody does it quite like you. So, two questions—one, how much preparation goes into some of those video blogs, and, two, should we expect to see you inside your wife’s closet anytime soon?
Malice: [laughs] No, I don’t think I’m allowed in there. But the video blogs, actually, they come quite naturally—I would even go as far as to say those messages have been sent to me. And the way they come out is just so picture-perfect, and it’s just tryin’ to open up the minds. Like I said in the first video blog, I’m speaking to the youth. I’m not trying to change anybody’s style or tryin’ to start my own movement, talkin’ about “This is how things should be done. This way’s right, that way’s wrong!” I’m just tryin’ to reach out, and people that follow the Clipse’s music and even the young cats that know about the Clipse, they know what the Clipse talk about, but we paint both sides of the picture. And, just to let you know, we do not always win. We’re not always victorious in every venture.
DJ Booth: Let’s say a network approached you and they watched the video blogs, they loved the ideas, the concepts, the intricacy of your thought process, and they said, “Let’s expand this and turn it into a television program.” Is that something you’d be up for?
Malice: Listen: I have tons of these ideas! Tons! Like, they don’t stop!
DJ Booth: [laughs] Give ‘em your pitch!
Malice: Like, they don’t stop. This could go on for eons, man!
DJ Booth: Well, I will do my best to pitch that idea to the execs I know…
Malice: Pitch that for me, please!
DJ Booth: I’ve got’cha, but you need to guarantee me at least a cameo—is that cool?
Malice: We might can do a little better than that, man. We might even talk some splits, make it happen.
DJ Booth: Okay! Well, I was willing to hold some cue cards or something, but if that’s what you wanna do, it works for me.
Malice: [laughs] It’s all good, man.
DJ Booth: As I mentioned in the pre-interview, you guys were just in my hometown of Chicago on the Sneaker Pimps tour. Are you guys big shoe aficionados?
Malice: Aw man, definitely! We’re out here doin’ the Sneaker Pimps thing, getting’ all kinds of crazy sh*t… I wish you could see—I should Twit-pic a picture of my bunk right now, with all these sneakers up there.
DJ Booth: How many pairs would you say you’ve got on the bus?
Malice: On the bus? Well, on my bed, 15 pair of sneakers, on my bed right now.
DJ Booth: At some point you might run out of room for the shoes…
Pusha T: You get ‘em sent home, you get ‘em sent home when it gets to that point.
DJ Booth: Do you guys prefer new-school-style kicks, or the old-school-style kicks [you had] growin’ up?
Pusha T: Retro.
DJ Booth: What’s your favorite pair? Both of you.
Pusha T: Yo, I just seen the old Bo Jacksons.
Malice: Oh yeah, those were dope!
Pusha T: They were crazy. Sh*t like that.
DJ Booth: Well, obviously the old-school preference is something your fans see in your music, ‘cause you guys bring it back to the golden days of hip-hop, and that’s why they’re so excited for the album. Why don’t you give a website, a MySpace page, a Twitter account, so they can find out more about Til the Casket Drops, out this October.
Malice: Check it out, check it out. You can contact the Clipse, find out about Til the Casket Drops... go to playcloths.com, you need to treat yourself to that, definitely. Go to myspace.com/clipse, you can hit Malice up at twitter.com/malice757, also at maliceoftheclipse.com, and reupgangrecords.net.
DJ Booth: If they don’t stumble upon one of those eight or so social networking sites, they can definitely check you guys out at DJBooth.net. Thank you so much for takin’ the time to join me inside the Booth. It was a pleasure, fellas.
Malice: Z, we appreciate it, man—thank you!
Pusha T: Yeah Z, thanks for havin’ us.