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Clipse: Til the Casket Drops

Clipse: Til the Casket Drops

Release Date:2009
Genre:Hip Hop/Rap

By Bret McCabe | Posted 12/16/2009

Hustling may be a recession-proof business--see: Rick Ross' "Rich Off Cocaine," Birdman's "Money to Blow," Pill's "Trap Goin' Ham"--but hip-hop hopelessly devoted to rags-to-cocaine riches stories in 2009 feels rather, well, like Bernie Madoff talking about how it's hard out there for a pimp. Just how long is rap gonna shill this version of the American myth?

Even Clipse, Virginia Beach's critically adored duo of trap menace, appears to have parked itself on this gated community cul de sac on Til the Casket Drops, the duo's first album since 2006's Hell Hath No Fury. "For pushing a mountain of snowcaps to avoiding the Kojak/" Malice casually spits on "Popular Demand," the slinky second track. "The pioneer of the coke rap/ I'm dancing with the stars stepping on blow doing the toe-tap." But before Malice sleepwalks through another cocaine rhyme, he makes a quick detour into something else: "Money stacked to the ceiling just as quick as it dispense/ Who knew them comments meant you could lose your common sense?/ Before it's too late all I can tell 'em is repent."

Redemption isn't that odd for drug rap (see: Scarface), and while Malice and Pusha T aren't entirely devoted to rediscovering decency--see Kanye West's pointless guest spot--a threadbare empathy haunts Casket. The murky beats powering "Showing Out" turn a need for attention into something like an obsessive compulsion, while in "I'm Good"--a summery groove about enjoying nice things ("$200 jeans with my favorite patch/ pulling up my ride, hell yeah the rims match")--the constantly repeated "I'm good" hook starts to feel less like a celebration and more like a reminder to self. DJ Khalil and Sean C and LV add some new life to the Neptunes' familiarly cosmic hip-hop pop beats, but it's the two Thornton brothers--especially Malice--whose inquisitive self-doubt gives Casket something resembling a human soul.

E-mail Bret McCabe

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