Clipse, the hip-hop duo of brothers Malice & Pusha T., took crack rap to a whole new level with hit albums Lord Willin” (released in 2002) and Hell Hath No Fury (released in 2006). The Virginia Beach-raised pair was rhyming over The Neptunes’ beats years before the super-producers became fashionable and brazed complications with Jive Records to bring their grimy tales of the underworld to fans’ ears. Now Clipse has signed with Columbia Records; just dropped a new mixtape and is headlining the Fall Semester Sound-Off Concert on the campus Thursday. The Diamondback spoke to Pusha T. to discuss the group’s upcoming album, the new record deal and why college students make the best fans. The Second Annual Fall Semester Sound-Off Concert will take place in the Grand Ballroom at 7:30 p.m. Student tickets are $7 and can be bought either in advance at the Hoff Theater or on the day of the show.

The Diamondback: How important have mixtapes been to Clipse’s career, especially when Jive Records kept delaying your albums?
Pusha T
: Mixtapes are definitely a big part, especially for the fans. It’s a great way for them to hear us and to keep us relevant. It’s also a form of therapy for us. We can vent.

DBK: How has Columbia Records been treating you guys, and when is your next major release coming out?
Pusha T
: Columbia’s great because we have a lot more creative control. We’re trying to release the album in the first quarter of next year. It’s gonna be called Till The Casket Drops. That’s a saying we have amongst our friends in Virginia Beach. It means I’m gonna keep doing this music until I die.

DBK: Who have you worked with on the album?
Pusha T
: We’ve worked with The Neptunes, The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and a bunch more already. I just got some stuff sent from RZA. That’ll be dope. Maybe Kanye, too. We’re waiting for some of his stuff. It’s a good time to hear the Clipse come out of their shell. Fans have heard two perfectly produced Neptunes albums, but this release will be more diverse.

DBK: What can concert-goers expect from your show?
Pusha T
: High-energy. It’ll be heavy on Hell Hath No Fury material. We touch on mixtape stuff, as well. It’s really a fan’s show.

DBK: Why do you enjoy playing at colleges?
Pusha T
: Because the college fan is so attentive and so passionate about the lyrics. You don’t have to dumb anything down. Most people don’t get it and it’ll go over their head, but the college audience, they’ve got me going, ‘Wow!’ I’ll always see, like, four guys in the front row saying everything word-for-word.

DBK: Why do you think college students, most of whom have not been involved in the hard drug trade, relate so much to your hardcore lyrics?
Pusha T
: Well, it’s not just drug rap. There are parallels that we draw to a variety other issues and themes. We use metaphors a lot, too.

DBK: What’s your favorite song to perform live?
Pusha T
: “Keys Open Doors.” I love the crowd reaction, love the play on words. [Editor’s note: Keys can also mean kis, or one kilo of cocaine.]

DBK: What are your goals for the future?
Pusha T
: To fully establish Re-Up Gang Records as a whole Clipse movement. We just want to have a stronghold on the game.

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