Discography Check: Clipse

By @TrueGodImmortal

One of the most important duos in hip hop during the 2000s, the tandem of brothers Pusha T and Malice made a name for themselves, arriving on the scene in the late 90's, with assistance from The Neptunes. First signing with Elektra then Jive Records, the duo saw their share of ups and downs as they came into the game and they've managed to navigate their way through. While no longer a duo musically, their legacy and impact is forever felt and appreciated in hip hop, so today, I wanted to revisit their discography, which is actually a top tier one in the hip hop world especially if you include the mixtapes they've done together. Not included are their solo projects because surprisingly enough, neither of their solo projects and work resemble the style and sound of the Clipse. What are the best albums in their arsenal? Let's take a look.

*Exclusive Audio Footage (1999)

-The Clipse would have their unofficial debut shelved and not released, as Elektra Records seemed to be unaware of the talent they had on the roster. Pusha and Malice would showcase that they weren't quite ready for the spotlight musically with this album, but that they had potential. Known then as Terrar, Pusha was seen as a future wordsmith honing his craft, while Malice was more concise in his rhyming at the time. The Neptunes handle the bulk of the production, and the beats here are some of their best work for the time, as "Breakfast In Cairo", "You Don't Even Know", and "Taiwan To Texas" are solid listens. Still, there is something missing from this project, and the duo would be released from their contract with the label shortly after the album was shelved, which was a blessing in disguise.

*Lord Willin (2002)

-This is seen as the official debut for the group after their initial album Exclusive Audio Footage was shelved and never officially released. This album was rendered as a classic by many listeners, as the duo found their comfort zone on this record. The Neptunes provide the soundscape once again for the duo and the results are beyond what Exclusive Audio Footage could have imagined. From the bare bones style production of the legendary "Grindin" to the sinister sound of "Comedy Central", all the way to the melodic rhythm of "Gangsta Lean", we get some of the best work from Pharrell and Chad. Pusha and Malice don't disappoint on the lyrical front either, as they both shine alongside Jadakiss, Styles P, and Fabolous on the album, showing they can hold their own with some of the best at that time. The official debut from the Clipse gave the fans someone new to cheer for, and they would make their mark.

*We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 1 (2004)

-When we talk about mixtapes and the legacy of the most important series, there are a few names that come to mind. Trap Or Die series, Dedication series, G-Unit Radio series, and this series. We Got It 4 Cheap arrived in 2004 at a time when it seemed that Clipse and The Neptunes were both waiting for Jive Records to get their act together and release the finished official second album from the duo. They would combine with Sandman and Ab-Liva to create the Re-Up Gang and embark on a journey with this series, as DJ Clinton Sparks hosts the initial tape. Rapping over mostly popular instrumentals of the time, Pusha and Malice seem sharper lyrically here, which could possibly be attributed to Ab and Sandman being challenges to keep up with, which was good for the duo. Highlights here include "Stuntin' Ya'll", "Re-Up Anthem", "You'll See", and more. This is a classic mixtape.

*We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 2 (2005)

-The apex of the mixtape series came as the fans were anxiously awaiting their next official album. The duo would deliver one of the greatest mixtapes of all time with Vol. 2, as Clinton Sparks returns to host this fluid mixtape. Utilizing more popular instrumentals, the duo and their cohorts Ab-Liva and Sandman bring their absolute best, and I've gone on record to say that I think this is the best lyrical work from both men. This is unfiltered and raw Clipse at their best, spinning their drug dealing tales with a confidence and wit that wasn't previously heard on their past projects. Highlights on this tape are plentiful, but "Daytona 500", "Roll With The Winners", "Run This Shit", and "Re-Up Intro" stand out the most. This might be a top 5 mixtape of all time.

*Hell Hath No Fury (2006)

-This is the album that made me realize that the group was something beyond what I believed. I saw the Clipse as one of the better duos in hip hop at the time, but I felt they were missing that album that took them over the top. Lord Willin was great, but it didn't have the flare that every hip hop classic has IMO. Enter Hell Hath No Fury. With all of the label drama they encountered leading up to this, along with the belief that they were dissing someone in particular on the single "Mr. Me Too", this album carried a special feel around it, and when the album arrived, we would learn just how special. This is nearly a flawless album, lyrically and production wise, as Pusha and Malice weave through the excellent Neptunes production to craft gems like "Nightmares", "Momma I'm So Sorry", "Ride Around Shining", and my personal favorite "Keys Open Doors". This is the best Clipse album and many consider it to be a hip hop classic during a time where true classics were few and far between. For that alone, this album solidified the Clipse.

*We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 3 (2008)

-The final edition of We Got It 4 Cheap is the weakest, but it is still a solid listen from start to finish. Unlike the previous editions, there was no Clinton Sparks, with DJ Drama replacing him this time. Lyrically, the group is still sharp, but something felt like it was missing that made the first two editions so special. Still, this is one of the last times we heard the entire Re-Up Gang together and as a result, we get some gems on the project like "20K Money Making Brothers On The Corner", "Dey Know Yayo", "Rainy Days", and more. While Part 3 isn't as good as the first two, as a standalone release, it is a solid listen from start to finish.

*Clipse Presents Re-Up Gang (2008)

-The truth is, 2008 was a busy year for the Clipse. Two mixtapes and then this album, which was distributed through Koch Records. This project was to showcase Ab-Liva and Sandman more so than anyone, but of course, Pusha and Malice make appearances throughout assisting on the lyrical side. This project is one that is mostly forgotten, but it was a solid listen overall, as the standout tracks are "Fast Life", "Emotionless", "Been Thru So Much", and "Street Money". While this wasn't anything special, it did supply the streets with more of that Re-Up Gang sound that we came to love.

*Road To Til The Casket Drops (2008)

-A brief mixtape before the group's last album dropped, this was mostly a teaser for the fans of the duo to enjoy. This was to celebrate the new clothing line Play Cloths and it features some solid music in the same regard as their We Got It For Cheap series. One of the highlights is a random Lauren London interlude, as she basically is the lead in to the slightly hilarious "So Fly". Alongside their cohort Ab-Liva, the duo delivers solid rhymes over popular beats and they do it better than just about anyone else in the genre. Tracks like "Big Dreams", "The Haters Wish", "Feds Taking Pictures", and "Swing Ya Rag" are highlights, but compared to the first two We Got It For Cheap editions, this tape isn't in the same league. It is a good listen, but it is missing what made WGIFC so potent and special.

*Til The Casket Drops (2009)

-The last release from the Clipse. Bittersweet in a way. The duo had been showcasing how great they were, and it didn't seem as if the duo had ran its course. Of course, at the time, no one knew that this would be the last album, but this was new territory for them. After leaving Jive, they would end up at Columbia for their last release and this was different in sound, because The Neptunes didn't produce the album in full. Instead, Clipse would reach out to DJ Khalil, Sean C and LV, and Chin Injeti to assist with the production, though the majority of the production was handled by Pharrell and Chad. Overall, this album is a good listen, but compared to their previous two, it does fall a little flat. Still, with features from Cam'ron, Kanye West, Yo Gotti, and more, along with tracks like "Popular Demand", "Footsteps", "Champion", and others, this was a very good swan song to leave the game with. If only we could get one last Clipse album......



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