Clipse In Studio 3
OK, this gotta bet he best interview this year out. You gotta read this. An amazingly long (and insightful!) interview with Clipse member Pusha-T, the rapper known to his family (and probably no one else) as Terrence Thornton. After the jump, the Virginian gets into what it’s like to have Kanye West as one of your biggest fans, the frustrations of disappointing people by not rapping about crack and being an angry gangster all the time, why regionalism in American hiphop excites him so much, and, fascinatingly, the songwriting philosophies of close colleagues The Neptunes.
Clipse In Studio 4

Seattletimes: Alright, we’re recording.
Pusha T. Alright.

S: So what was it like working with Rick Rubin?
P: He appeared to be everything I thought he was. Very insightful, very much so a hiphop purist. And very no-frills. That guy is very simple. Simple and bare-bones, especially about the music. We didn’t produce anything with him. We met him in Malibu and hopped in his Range Rover, and he put his driver out the car, and just played the whole album. And just sat there and totally talked to us, said, “Make sure everything you do on this album, you love.” He was like, “I don’t want to talk about sales or any of that.”

S: So what kind of relationship did you have with him during the creation of “Till The Casket Drops”?
P: Not much at all. As we heard it, he just listened as a fan: “Oh, man. This is hot, this is crazy…. I love what I’m hearing, and whatever else you do, make sure you love it.” And that’s it.

S: He didn’t produce anything on it?
P: No, he didn’t produce.

S: So he was just there for spiritual guidance and artistic insight?
P: Yeah.

S: It’s really cool you’re still working with The Neptunes. After “Hell Hath No Fury,” I know a lot of people wondered if the next album was going to be the same thing again, completely Neptunes beats. It was rumored that was going to be the case, and then it was rumored that wasn’t going to be the case. So what’s your relationship like with Pharrell now? Still as it ever was?
P: Yeah, I think everyone’s going to be able to hear that the synergy is still one hundred percent there. Obviously you’re going to be able to tell the difference between Clipse and other rappers, and Neptunes and other producers. I think when you hear it, you’ll be like, “Wow, these guys are still bringing that disruptive sound when they get with the Neptunes.” It’s so disruptive. It’s so not the norm.

S: Is the new stuff really minimal?
P: Some of it’s minimal. Other stuff is melodic. Every time we get in there…I think the Neptunes know, and I know for sure: We’re not making any music that’s reminiscent of anything. When we get together, it takes everyone back to the days of the un-groomed Neptunes. It takes you back to the unorthodox Neptunes. The music’s feeling so good. Like, you just go off what feels good. A lot of guys, a lot of producers, they have a formula that they start off one way, and it’s a raw edge, and it’s the raw edge that gets them in the door, and then they expand on it. We stayed with the raw edge. You’re gonna hear it on the record, man.

S: How many beats are you choosing from?
P: From the Neptunes?

S: Yeah, does Pharrell give you beat CDs?
P: No, hell no. We construct. Hell no, we construct. Totally construct.

S: From scratch. Custom built.
P: Custom built.

S: So you’ll be in the studio from nothing until the end of the beat?
P: Definitely.

S: That’s pretty unusual.
P: Definitely. And sometimes you come into the studio and there’s something in there, and [Pharrell] loves it, and I’m like, “I’m not feeling it.”
And he’s like, “Are you f_____g serious?”
And so he plays it, like, nine times.
And I’m like, “Yo, I ain’t feelin’ it.”
And he’s like, “OK, get the f__k out, then. I don’t think you know what you’re doing.”
And I’ll call in Shay from N.E.R.D. and be like, “Yo, how this feel to you?” And he’ll be like, “Oh that s__t’s aight.”
And I’m like, “SEE?! He should not tell me my s__t’s ‘aight.’ He should not say that to me.”
And so he flicks him off, calls him a lot of short names.
You know? I’m trying to say, the proof is in the pudding. There’ll be some girls around, and we’ll play a record and they’ll go crazy, and then we’ll play that record and they’ll say, “Oh that’s good.”
And I’ll be like, “SEE?!”
And [Pharrell] will be like, “Yo, you gotta put lyrics to it! When you put lyrics to it, you’ll bring more life to it! Da da da da da da!”
I said, “Nah, that’s not what I want from a superproducer. I want that action. Give me that action right away.”
And so he puts everybody out. Takes off all his rings and s__t.
And then he comes back, when we’re eating. In the lounge. Like, “Why don’t you listen to this? See what you think about this?” And then he leaves. It’s very drawn out.

S: Is it always like that?
P: No, no. Some days I’ll walk in and be like, “Oh my god, that s__t is nuts.” As soon as I walk in, I hear the beat and just come with a melody. And he’ll be like, “That’s it! Go! I don’t want to talk, just go!”

S: Are you singing now?
P: No.

S: So you’re just writing melodies that maybe he’ll play on the keyboard…
P: Oh! When I say melodies, I mean like stencils. For the verses. Cadences.

S: Ah, like a flow idea.
P: Right.

S: Is that how you normally start with your verses? Like, how it’s gonna sound phonics-wise, and then fill in the words later?
P: Um, the Neptunes made that an issue this time.

S: How so?
P: That’s what they wanted to do. [Pharrell] was like, “Yo, if we’re going to do these records that are unorthodox, I want a full-on marriage. That’s the way we have to convey it to the people.” A lot of records that we do are not digested very quickly. Cool people are like, “Yo, s__t is crazy, it’s great.” Other people don’t get it for six months, and then later they’re like, “Oh, s__t he said, ‘I philosophize … [about glocks and keys, n____s call me young black Socrates].” And I’ll be like, “Oh, you’re just now getting that? Seven months later? After you downloaded it, you f__k?”

So to do that, Pharrell’s like, “I want you to find all the greatness in a verse, and you put that in a stencil. You make the greatness of the words that much greater when it’s in a cadence.” He said, “Now, you’re undeniable.” That was his twist. He’s like, “Let’s go that route. Yo, you’ve given me the greatest mixtape verses ever. ‘We Got it 4 Cheap’ 1, 2, and 3, the ‘Play Cloths’ mixtape…you’ve given me every verse you can give me.” He was like, “You blacked out on ‘Hell Hath No Fury,’ alladat. I’m just telling you to give me all your blackout, and stick it in a flow. Shove all your blackout into a flow. That way, dummies have to sing what you say, because they’re hooked by the hook within the verse, which is the flow, and the purists will still love your words.” He said, “That’s how we’re going to amplify greatness.” I should not be saying this to you. But f__k it. He’s definitely gonna read this and be like, “You’re going to give away the gems? The f__k is wrong with you?”

S: I can hear that philosophy. On “I’m Good,” when I first heard it, I was like, “damn, it’s all about the way these guys sound right now.” You’re almost singing, your voice is pitched up, it’s rad. Were you happy with the way that song was received?
P: Yeah.

S: It came out, and then your album got pushed back. I wonder if they’re related.
P: The funny thing is…and it’s so funny. The people that usually listen to the Clipse, they hear it, and if it’s anything different that just goin’ hard, you have like a split decision.

S: You mean people just want you to be super aggressive?
P: One hundred percent. One hundred percent.

S: And if you do something else, it’s like, “Ah, I don’t know…”
P: Yeah yeah yeah. That’s how they want it, though! They want it super aggressive. Some of ’em, some of ’em are like, “Wait a minute, this is hot.” And then some of our fans, the quicker ones, are like, “That s__t is the s__t. ‘I’m Good’? For some reason, I like this now.” But that never happens with these guys. That’s always the more popular reaction. Now, it’s happening with my purist fans. I don’t know, it’s kind of funny. Like half of my purist fans, I would say.

S: Do you get frustrated that people only want one style? You’re deeper than that.
P: I’ve only really noticed it on this. It’s funny because I’m like, “So what are you guys thinkin’ right now? That I’m not bustin’?” ‘Cause I’m in San Diego right now. With my laptop. And instrumentals. And I’m blacking the f__k out right now.

S: Currently.
P: Yeah! And I’m thinking to myself, “You guys really, really believe that? You think I’m not going to black out?” So I’m doing this so they know. That they sTilll better fear. If they didn’t. It’s all for the competition, and the fans, and stuff like that. It’s just growth man, it’s growth, and it’s retuning the ears of the Clipse fans. That’s all.

S: You gotta grow up. If you make what people want you to make, you’ll just end up a puppet for somebody else.
P: Yooooo, man. It’s crazy. And it’s like, we make these albums off of time, and moods. Damn, man. I really don’t wish I could be as angry as “Hell Hath No Fury” all the time.

S: Because it’s unhealthy.
P: Oh, man. Is it. Hell yeah. Damn. As much as I think that was an amazing body of work, I don’t want to feel like that all the time.

S: Did creating it help you psychologically?
P: Hell yeah.

S: Was it like therapy?
P: Hell yeah. All the s__t that was bottled up, I was sayin’.

S: Do you feel like a different person now?
P: Yeah. Hell yeah. There was a lot of animosity. I don’t have that.

S: Do you still have that feeling that you’re denied something something? That you’re denied a certain amount of respect, or money, or fame?
P: Nah, man. I feel like, I was telling someone the other day, at the end of the day, I can say to myself I still have not put one hundred percent into music. I haven’t. And I want to. I want to now.

S: And is that what you’re doing with this project?
P: Huh?

S: I’m sorry for interrupting, go ahead. I want to hear you talk more about that.
P: Yeah, I think from here on out, I’m really more so going in the direction of putting one hundred percent into music. I don’t think I’ve done that. So I’m not going to blame anybody for anything. Whatever lack of…like f__t it. Do I feel like I make great s__t? I feel like I make awesome s__t. But as far as the hustle and the bustle of just being a music guy? I haven’t done that. I’ve been consumed with a lot of other s__t that I probably shouldn’t have been consumed with. There’s always some drama, or negativity that I’m directly consumed with.

S: What kind of hustle and bustle are you talking about?
P: I don’t feel like I’ve been a rapper, yo. Outside of just writing. I don’t think I’ve been that. I don’t think I’ve been like my rap peers.

S: Because you were just writing, rapping, and doing shows, and that’s it? Or what do you mean?
P: Yeah, I wasn’t living the rap life. I never lived like a rapper. I’ve never done that. I’ve always just been a motherf___r that was nice with the pen. That’s all I did. That’s all I do. I don’t care about whatever. I don’t care about being friends with all these guys, and networking my way through the rap game. My management hates this, that I’ve never done that. “You won’t do that, but you’ll be in the mix with this stuff that has nothing positive to do with your career. Whatever.” And I can understand that. And it’s a fault, on myself, I think. But now I want to do that. I want to try out that part of the game.

S: What does that part of the game entail? Going to parties?
P: It has a lot to do with networking, it has a lot to do with like the PR and the visibility. The difference between being in Virginia amongst my friends in family, versus being in hiphop meccas like New York and Atlanta, having my presence be felt.

S: Is that a movement that your brother’s on, too? Or are you going to be the face of what’s in the mix now?
P: I don’t know. I can’t speak for my brother. He doesn’t give a f__k, I can say that. I think that’s fair. About any of that.

S: ‘Cause it feels phony to him?
P: No, I think…you know, he says it in verses. He’s not up on the latest hiphop news. When we do mixtapes, he doesn’t even know whose songs we’re rhyming over.

S: His head’s just somewhere else besides the industry.
P: He has other things, other ventures he’s into. You’ll have to ask him yourself.

S: [Voice cuts in. It’s a guy from the promotional company that helped me organize the phone call: “OK, you guys have three minutes.”] Ok, can you tell me a little more about how “Till The Casket Drops” is different than “Hell Hath No Fury”?
P: Yeah, I don’t even like comparing “Hell Hath No Fury” to “Till The Casket Drops.” I like to compare “Lord Willin'” to “Till The Casket Drops.” I like to call it hiphop on steroids. This s__t has energy, yo. Whether it’s fast, whether it’s slow, we are the extreme. We are squeezing the juice out of whatever it is. Whatever lane it falls in. It’s pure energy. I feel like “Lord Willin'” was like that. High, low, whatever it was, it was extreme. I feel “Hell Hath No Fury” was dark and linear greatness. Know what I’m sayin’? I don’t feel the ups and downs in “Hell Hath No Fury.”

S: It’s just cold.
P: Totally cold. “Hell with you all.” That’s how I felt. But I feel [“Till The Casket Drops”] is a rollercoaster of energy.

S: [As a friend pointed out recently, all my phone interviews seem to have interruptions where something goes awry, and I lose a little of the conversation. I attribute this to my recording software: if continuous silence is detected for a few seconds, it shuts off. Sometimes the silence is just a dramatic pause, but the software doesn’t understand “dramatic pause.” That happened at this point in the interview, and while I was reconfiguring the recording situation and holding the phone to my ear with my shoulder, Pusha and I started talking more about “I’m Good” and the rest of “Till the Casket Drops.”]
P: Know what it is? When the body of work is exposed, everybody’ll be like, “Ahhhhhh. I get it.” Know what I’m saying? You’re gonna hear “Never Will It Stop,” you’re gonna hear “Popular Demand” with Cam’ron, you’re gonna hear “Showin’ Out.” You’re gonna hear the most ignorant of ignorant records. Raw boom-bap. Those records lie there. They’re there.

S: So people just don’t get it because they haven’t heard it in context?
P: Exactly. And I say “they don’t get it” but I mean “they don’t get it off the bat.” If you want to talk about singles or whatever, “I’m Good” is climbing up the charts, with a bullet, boom. We have a new one for the one Ab’s on, “All Eyes on Me.” Stations are adding it. People are responding. Like I said, there’s the initial, “Ehhhh. I don’t know…OK I do! I do like it!” It’s that teeter-totter.

S: It wouldn’t be the Clipse if it weren’t like that, huh?
P: Of course! “Grindin'” took nine months! People thought I was stupid. “How you have Pharrell Williams on your track and he doesn’t get to sing a hook? He sings for everyone else, but he doesn’t sing a hook on this record.” They thought I was nuts. Nine months later, “Oh my god, this is my favorite record, this is the record of the summer.” Oh, really? Radio guys are saying, “Hey, you want me to remix this record for you? I can do it better?” Really? OK…

S: That’s funny.
P: That’s about being part of the cult following, part of the fan-base. You see it like we see it. From the door. Know what I’m sayin’?

S: No. What do you mean?
P: I mean the truest of true fans see it like we see it from the door. I know who those people are. I see ’em. It’s like, yo, it’s the ones that are shakier, it’s like, “What do you mean? We’ve been in this boat together the whole time! Don’t you doubt it. Are you crazy?!” And then they come around. And then they want to be embraced. And we take ’em in anyway. Come on, my children.

It’s fun, though. It’s all in fun. I have all these theories on the fans, because those are the only guys that kept us alive. You have to understand, the relationship we have with our fans is so different. I actually depend on them. I actually depend on them, and I could say that, damn, I didn’t put out an album, but I put out three mixtapes and a thousand of y’all came out. Seven hundred of y’all came out to the Knitting Factory three times.

S: You mean you depend on your fans for more than money?
P: Yeah. I depend on them for insight. I depend on them to be my street team. My everything. Every night, I ask them, “You got that ‘Hell Hath No Fury’? And they’re like, ‘Yeah!’ And I’ll be like, ‘Who downloaded it?’ And it’ll go all quiet. And I’ll be like, ‘You know you downloaded it. Are you serious? It’s OK. Just don’t do it next time, please.’

S: Your relationship with the internet is pretty deep. When “Hell Hath No Fury” came out, it was so loved. Like so, so loved.
P: Acclaimed.

S: And then “Road To Tilll the Casket Drops” came out, and some of those same outlets didn’t like it, and maybe those same outlets will flip-flop back around on “Till The Casket Drops.”
P: “Road to Till the Casket Drops” is, like, I love it. I love it now.

S: Over that Lupe beat? That’s crazy.
P: What?

S: “Numb it Down.”
P: Oh my god. “Numb it Down.” I feel like how in hell don’t you give us our props for the f___ing “It’s the reincarnation of Raekwon in an a-pron.” The Game? “Big Dreams”? I bodied so many rappers in one verse! I’m like, what?! I bodied all of you! Are you serious? C’mon, man. I gave them the look. I gave them the insight. I have the skeleton key. I gave you this, you bastards! For the intro and “Big Dreams” alone! I don’t know. They didn’t like “So Fly.” Songs that were lighthearted that I thought were great, still.

S: It does seem to be the lighthearted ones.
P: Always. Always. I can’t smile, I can’t joke. You want me to be miserable, my whole life. And it’s hilarious to me. Meanwhile, they’ll let every other artist in the whole world give them s__t, and they’ll find greatness in it. But if the Clipse ain’t mad, if the Clipse ain’t damn near on their way to jail…that’s the only way you’ll like me.

And then I’ll say, “I gave you truth/ revealed my proof/ loosened the knots from your mind/ I was your masseuse.” They don’t care about that. They don’t care about any of that. I’m like, dog, I can’t give you more. When you hear the intro to this album, you’ll hear the same thing. I give you everything. They ain’t givin’ you s__t. I’ve been punished for half the shit I said. I’ve lost everything behind this.

S: What do you mean?
P: You’ll hear it on the intro. I break it down. The music drove me crazy. I’ve lost so much. I’ve lost family, friends, everything. I lost my heart. I always say I don’t feel. I don’t feel nothin’. I’m numbed by the will to gain. I don’t feel any of this s__t. I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel anything, due to this. I don’t know if other artists are like that. I don’t know if other artists have had the road I’ve had. Yo, I just lost a slew of friends.

S: Recently?
P: S__t. Yeah. It’s crazy.

S: What’s going on? People still wrapped up in Virginia s__t?
P: Wildness. I don’t even want to get into it. It’s too much. Like I said, I’ve given the fans all I can give them. I can’t do no more. All I look to do, all I owe you, is great music every time I’m out. That’s the only thing I’m striving for, now. To me, outside of the cult, the popular fan will take anything. I’ve watched it happen. I’ve watched people be exposed. I’ve watched people do everything in the world to make something that’s invalid, accepted.

S: Like a giant promotional machine that pushed bad product?
P: Bad product, or lies. I’ve watched ’em be fooled. I’ve watched ’em be exposed to the fans. I’ve watched the fans love it. I’ve watched it all. Accept it. Fuck it. In this thing we call street hiphop. So now that I know there’s no criteria for that, I refuse – I refuse – to hurt or jeopardize anything having to do with me or my family. Only thing I vow to do is give good music. To the best of my ability. That’s it.

S: How did that Kanye track happen? Did you meet, or email?
P: Nah, nah, I got that beat from DJ Khalil out west.

S: Right. But the verse.
P: And the verse, I was like, “Yo, I got this record, tell me what you think about it.” he heard it, was like, “Yo, I love it, you’ll have it back in three hours.”

S: Really?
P: Yeah. He was somewhere far, though. I want to say Japan. Or Australia. Not that those two are anything alike, but it was somewhere really far. I don’t think Japan’s far enough. I’ve been there too much. Either way, he was like, “Yo, you’ll have it back in three hours.”

S: So he just got the beat and went straight into the studio.
P: Yeah.

S: That’s pretty amazing. You’re probably one of the only groups he’d do that for. “Yes, I’ll do it. Right away, here I go, yes. Here’s the track.”
P: I mean, we’re really appreciative for ‘Ye doing that. He’s expressed he’s a fan of the Clipse. He had a birthday party, and we went out there, and immediately just rocked. For his birthday, private birthday party at the Louis Vuitton store.

S: He had you perform?
P: He didn’t know.

S: That was your birthday present to him?
P: I guess. His team reached out, like, “Can you come through? He loves you guys. ‘Hell Hath No Fury,’ he thinks it’s the greatest.” Alright. We’re on our way.

S: That’s crazy he’s loving your music, probably rapping along.
P: He always says that. He knows it backwards and forwards.

S: Does that have any special significance to you? Personally, I think he’s the greatest thing we have in pop music. He’s like Madonna, or something. Just totally changing the game on all levels. How does it feel to have him as a fan?
P: I love it. I think it’s so great because he’s everything you just said, and he’s credible still. That’s so dope.

S: He’s credible across a lot of different lines.
P: He’s great amongst every genre. He can be on the crazy R&B track, he can rhyme with the Clipse and get off – know what I’m saying? He can rhyme with anybody and really show off, really stand his ground. Jay-Z. Wayne. Stands his ground. Holds up. So amazing.

S: Are there any other artists you can think of that you respect on that level?
P: I respect Jay-Z on that level. He’s made some of the greatest music ever.

S: I was so excited you were going to come out with albums on the same day. I wanted it to be like “Battle Hiphop: 2009.” Sales-wise, whatever happened would happen, but personally, as far as albums I can see myself purchasing…
P: Oh, wow. Yeah, I would have liked that personally. Sales-wise, I’m sure they would put more [promotion] behind a Jay-Z album than they would a Clipse album, but that would cause so much traffic to come to a store, that I don’t think I could lose.

S: You’re probably right, and they’d probably have your albums displayed right next to each other in stores.
P: We’d win by default.

S: So what’s the reason for pushing it back? Because you’re still writing rhymes right now?
P: Oh, no no no. Everything I’m writing right now is for the streets. The album’s done.

S: So you’re writing for another mixtape right now?
P: Yeah, another mixtape, viral videos, all that.

S: Oh, OK. The album’s felt like it’s been about to come out for a while. You’ve already done and released videos for “Kind of Like a Big Deal” and “I’m Good.”
P: And, we got a video for “All Eyes on Me.” And, we’re shooting another video for something I’m not gonna say right now. We’re very happy.

S: Is it gonna be the one with Cam’ron?
P: Wouldn’t you love that?

S: How’s Cam? He doing alright?
P: I know one thing. He’s alright on my record. Seems like he’s doing fine to me. I respect him so much. Like, he…OK. I have a major respect for down South movements. I respected the No Limit movement so much. I respected Cash Money’s movement so much. Suave House and Tony Draper. All of that. I think that Cam is the northern equivalent to some of that. Of course, [Master] P’s thing was huge. These guys I’ve named are, like, huge, but I’m talking about being from the North and having that cult following that maybe wasn’t as big as those other guys, but they were just such a defining stamp. I’m talking about people in where I was at, in Virginia, they loved Cam, they loved Juelz, they loved J.R. Writer, they loved Hell Rell. And when I look at that, I look at, OK, Suave House had 8Ball and MJG, but they had Tela. They had Crimeboss. People that everybody didn’t know. But the created this following where, if you were into that, you were into the whole thing of it. I think [Cam] did a really good job of that. I know something’s going on right now or whatever, but my respect for what he built is huge.

S: Yeah, you hear stories about Dipset just shutting down whole Harlem blocks, flooding the streets for video shoots and stuff.
P: I can go for that. I believe it. That’s what I always loved about those other Southern cliques, more so, and he captured it when people from the North couldn’t really do it like that. Cam really did it. Created an outlet for a lot of guys.

S: I think he doesn’t get enough credit as a lyricist. He’s got that style where here’s like stupid/smart.
P: Yeah. He’s awesome at that, and then, I don’t know who’s better when it comes to like just conveying his music on video. And I’m not talking about regular videos. His viral shit?

S: “I Hate My Job”?
P: Oh my god. And it starts viral. But ultimately, MTV is on it. He conveys the s__t so good, on video. And then he does these movies, these videos, these sketches, where he makes himself the clown. The herb. Rappers are so wack, that they wouldn’t even do that. They’re like, “Oh, no. I got to be the Don.” But he’s got those videos of his cousin smackin’ him around. The stuff that’s a prelude to his album, where his cousin moves in and he’s pulling guns and stuff. That’s so funny. And it just shows how in tune and in touch he is with his greatness that he’ll play the secondary. To someone nobody knows. And makes them look like the man.

S: He’s been great.
P: For a long time.

S: I’m sure you don’t remember the first time you and I talked, but it was the first interview I ever did for this newspaper where I work. It was probably the biggest thing that ever happened to me. All I remember is you talked about other rap a lot, like you’re doing now. That stuck with me. I’m always thinking you’re trying to impress yourself when you rhyme, but also keeping in mind, “This is a fan of rap. This is someone who cares enough to get into it. Get obsessed with it.”
P: I’m a fan. I get obsessed. I see so much greatness. And people don’t believe it. People can sometimes take me for the hiphop snob. Like, “Oh, if you’re not connecting all these lyrical lines, then he’s not into you. If you’re not Rakim, he’s not into you.” But I find so much greatness in so many types of hiphop.

S: It doesn’t always have to be that super technical whatever.
P: No! Listen. I tell people this all the time. It be s__t that I don’t really understand. Like, for example. Living in Virginia – I live in Virginia – I could watch TV, and watch, say, the hyphy movement in the Bay, and not really get it. But I get on the road, go to Oakland, and when you go somewhere, and you see that people really believe in what the f__k they’re doing, you can get trapped, engulfed, and in love with this s__t.

S: Because you get it all at once?
P: Yes! Because it’s like, this girl really believes this face she’s making. And this dance she’s doing. You know, where they do the thizz and all that…. Then you’re there, and you hear about the Romper Room gang, and you hear about Mac Dre. All these things happen on the road for me. Then I go to the mom and pop store, and I buy the DVD and pop it in on the bus. And before you know it, I’ve left your market and I understand what the whole thing’s about. So it’s not ignorant me on the east cost in Virginia just looking at a one-dimensional video. I got it all now. And when I get home, I’m like, “Listen, y’all. I don’t know if you know, but this s__t is the s__t.” I discovered the Houston movement like that, too.

S: What made you “get it” in Houston?
P: Being amongst it. And seeing the passion that everyone has for it, and learning the history of it.

S: Is it something you can’t understand unless you go? Like, can you not understand Clipse until you’ve been to a show?
P: I don’t say that because I don’t think my music is as regional as these other guys.

S: Yeah, that was kind of an unfair comparison.
P: These guys do things that I can’t do. That I haven’t created. These guys really sell units in their areas, and really don’t give a f__k about anywhere else. They can make all the money they want to make in their area because they’ve cultivated something so great. And I’m talking about Houston. I’m talking about hyphy. I’m talking about the Lil’ Boosies of the world. These guys do these things that I have not been able to accomplish. And I want to say it’s in part because they’re in their own world, and it’s a world they can utterly control. Radio, all of that. And they’re so good in their area, and then they branch out and bleed out into nearby areas that are somewhat like their area. I haven’t been able to do that. I’m envious.

S: Is that a goal of yours?
P: I would love to.

S: What do you have to do, move and set down roots somewhere else?
P: I don’t know if it can be done, where I’m at.

S: In Virginia?
P: From Virginia, to D.C., to Maryland. You gotta think. In Maryland, you have Maryland club. In D.C. you have go-go. In Virginia, you have hiphop, but you have those first two that I just named as well as bleeding in from other places. You have a military town that, [Houston rapper] Slim Thug told me one of his biggest accounts is Norfolk, Virginia for chopped and screwed, and selling his s__t. Because everybody from the military is there. They come down there, and that’s that.

S: Lot of different people, lot of different cultures.
P: It’s a melting pot. You don’t have that melting pot in Baton Rouge. You don’t have that same melting pot in Oakland, and you do not have that same melting pot in Houston. That’s how I look at it. I could be wrong, somebody could dispute me.

S: That sounds big-picture enough. Could be accurate.
P: Yeah. You know, back to your question, people think I’m not a fan, or whatever. I’m here to tell everybody that, dog, I don’t think you guys really know. You definitely don’t know me if you believe that, and you definitely haven’t been places I’ve been, seen it how I’ve seen it, and tried to learn it like I tried to learn it. If you had, you’d love it like I love it.

S: I love the difference between something you can appreciate cerebral-y, and something best understood by total cultural immersion.
P: Yeah. You know, I bet there’s a guy that’s like, “Cam ain’t saying nothing.” Then that same guy, once you put him in front of the movement, you see the mixtape collection, you see the obnoxiousness – back then it was pink: pink Range, pink minks. When you see the self-contained movement of them shooting these videos, and making these records that won’t make a dent on the radio, but then you go to the show and you see 500 kids. You see downtown white kids with a Dipset shirt on, Diplomats shirt on. As well as the black kids in the projects in Harlem. Two worlds. Together. Word-for-wording this man.

S: The regional pull is something that you’re admiring in other crews, but that diversity of fan base is something you’ve achieved. But maybe that’s not such an achievement: be in a hardcore rap group and have a bunch of white fans.
P: [Laughs] No, I love how diverse my crowd is. But, like, there’s a self-containment that all of those guys that I just mentioned have. Like, if you look at Lil Boosie’s tour schedule, and you look at Thugga and them…yo, dog…if you look at Techn9ne. I’m just trying to give you a spectrum. Anything that falls under that. If you can do what the Dipset do, what they did in the tri-state all the way to Ohio, you can do what Techn9ne does all through out the Midwest, you can do what Oakland does, going toward Kansas City. Dude, I study this s__t. You can do what Boosie and them do all through the bottom, through the mudholes of f_____g mudholes. You do what Thugga and them did from Houston, to Arkansas, spreading all the way to Norfolk.

S: Is that important because downloading is what it is?
P: YES!!! That’s why those guys are winners and will be winners. That’s how, to me, you are just an independent force in the game. And that’s something I would love to be. As much as you say, ‘You’ve achieved this diversity,’ and I think that’s great, but they could do that, too, and still have this foundation. Even if all that falls down, they’re the s__t. Those Oakland kids are really doing 70,000 units within their areas, within their confines. And they can do it every three months if they want to.

S: That’s healthy.
P: That’s amazing.

S: Man, I hate to cut this short, but we’ve gone on way too long and I actually have other rappers to interview.
P: Go ‘head. I’m good.

S: Ha. Seriously, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. It’s kind of a dream.
P: Nah, man. Dope interview, dope questions.

Thanks To Eclectic_E.


Clipse – Till The Casket Drops (2009) (October 20th)
Producers & Guests: The Runners, Swizz Beatz, Sean C & LV, Justice League, Dame Grease, The Neptunes, Danjahands, DJ Khalil, Reefa, Boi 1-Da, Keri Hilson, Kenna, Cam’Ron, Timbaland, Scott Storch, Freeway, Nottz
Confirmed Tracks
– Speaker Freedom (Intro) (Sean C & LV)
– Kinda Like A Big Deal feat. Kanye West (DJ Khalil)
– Popular Demand feat. Pharrell & Cam’Ron (The Neptunes)
– Wretched Pitiful Poor Blind & Naked feat. Pharrell & Kenna (The Neptunes)
– I’m Good feat. Pharrell (The Neptunes)
– All Eyes On Me feat. Pharrell & Keri Hilson (The Neptunes)
– Life Change (The Neptunes)
– Champion (The Neptunes)
– Never Will It Stop (Added New)
– Showin’ Out (Added New)

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