As a Clipse fan with waning interest in their musical output, I wanted to not invest much time or energy into thinking about this new mixtape. It was done for a magazine, in promotion for a clothing line and name drops Nah Right in a verse eight months after Mickey Factz or something probably did.
But seriously, when are we going to forever write off this rap group? They’ve released two generally garbage mixtapes this year, plus an “album” where half of the verses were directly lifted from a mixtape and placed over one Storch beat and a bunch of fake Storch beats and they asked you to pay them for it. For dudes who rhyme all day about 09 Benzes and Parada shades and Italy this strikes me as a supremely dick move. Where were you internet?
More importantly: do these guys have a fire anymore? Even in this era of trapper-not-rapper/got rich before rap, are they even trying? Yeah, they had great punchlines on both volumes of We Got It For Cheap; some of those verses are my favorite rap verses ever. But wasn’t the most galvanizing part of those tapes the fact that here were two dudes rapping their asses off for their lives basically? Maybe they were or maybe they weren’t. Maybe if those tapes never jumped off they’d have faded away forever to get rich off coke money. Or maybe they would’ve hung around spitting verses on N.E.R.D. records until Pharell finally got their album off. No one knows, but in 2005, when it felt like their careers— and lives— hung in the balance, it made for some really powerful rap music.
But the way they rap now, this is sloth rap. These are verses and ideas and styles and flows not just recycled, but back in your fridge again as another soda can. Say what you will about Wayne, but he’s still worth following because he’s still going places. Both him and The Clipse are arguably at the lowest creative points in their careers, but look back to December 2007. Wayne’s notably deviated from that time, both with awful stuff like his dialysis-esque attachment to AutoTune and with great stuff like “A Milli” and “Dr. Carter”. It’s entirely possible, and maybe even likely, that Wayne is going to snap out of his funk and return to rapping like he was two years ago. Does anyone— stans included— think that The Clipse, as they stand now as these self-fulfilled gluttons, are going to return to the rappers they were on We Got It 4 Cheap? (NB: I’m not saying Hell Hath No Fury because I think that album is plagued by lots of the problems that I’m outlining here, a few songs excluded) Even more to the point: does anyone believe that Clipse want to return to the rappers they were on “Zen” or “Cot Damn”? Even if circumstances prevented them being able to mentally return to that point, does anyone get the feeling that these two guys strive to be more than they are right now. I see this desire in Jeezy. I see it in Kanye. I see it in Ludacris. I see it in Boosie and Webbie and Freeway and even Gorilla Zoe. Wayne had that fire back when no one believed him when he said he was the best rapper alive, and now that he’s been validated, at least commercially, he hasn’t showed even the slightest hint of slowing down. These guys, they see frontiers. The Clipse, they seem pretty comfortable giving us the same tired rhymes over other people’s beats.
Anyone who has been with The Clipse since 2001, or even 2005, should resent them. If you’re one of those people, you should resent this bullshit they’re handing you. You should resent the fact that they’re going to whine about their third LP, that they’re going to suck you in, and that it’s going to be exactly like the shit we got this year. I would demand more from them— from us— but think about The Clipse in 2008. Is there a point?