ClipseThe resilient spirit of the Thornton Brothers has helped to sustain The Clipse movement towards greatness. While snatching similes and pushing metaphors, The Clipse have always represented unadulterated Hip-Hop. Lord Willin’ and Hell Hath No Fury are the foundation upon which they are erecting their lyrical longevity. Constructing audible landscapes built on captivating beats, The Clipse has chronicled everything from dealing to dissatisfaction. With the December 8th release of Til The Casket Drops, they begin to share their delight.

Staying busy amid an extensive promotional tour, The Clipse grants Yo! Raps an in depth interview in which they discuss everything from their Hip-Hop beginnings to their health care. Til The Casket Drops is coming in December and Malice is in the process of penning his book, Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked. Even though their schedule is hectic The Clipse appreciates and will always take out time for their fans.

Yo!Raps: Thinking back, do y’all recall when you truly believed that you could transform your passion for emceeing into a substantial profession?
Malice: We’ve always been fans of Hip-Hop. Around that time [late 1990s] – with Pharrell and Chad, being from Virginia, and with Teddy Riley coming to Virginia – those dudes let us see that it was tangible. We would always make demos at Chad’s house. We’d make the demo, he’d listen to it and he’d chop it. It gave us a lot of hope that this thing could really go down; because, the music was dope. The lyrics were dope, you know, it was better than a lot of the stuff that was out at the time. So, we really believed that someday it would happen.

Y: Lord Willin’ and Hell Hath No Fury are both regarded as classic material. According to The Clipse, what constitutes a classic album?
P: Honestly, a classic album is when the beats and the rhymes match so well, that the fans and everybody who listens to it, actually feels like they’re in the album with you. We definitely try to reach out and make sure that everybody is touched when they hear it [our music]. If it doesn’t evoke any type of emotion in you, then nine times out of ten, it can’t be classic.

Y: Excluding The Clipse, what’s your favorite track from a classic album?
P: New York State of Mind [which is on Nas’ Illmatic].
M: Where I’m From [found on Jay-Z’s mixtape In My Lifetime Vol. 1].

Y: There’s a popular sentiment that we’re experiencing a Hip-Hop holocaust, in your opinion, can Hip-Hop escape the clutches of the commercializing corporate goons?
M: It says a lot about the mind-state, or the popular sentiment, of the Hip-Hop generation of today. I think that’s why it’s so successful. We also still got people out there who think a little bit deeper and who are as not as carefree and happy-go-lucky but with me being just a little bit older, I don’t know if I can escape it. I definitely think that it’s a sign of the times. I think it goes hand and hand to how people are feeling. Commercial rap is for those people who want to party more. I think people are a little less prone to thinking nowadays; that’s the reason why I think it [commercial rap] is so successful.
P: The Clipse are definitely about lyric driven Hip-Hop. And I think that with our music we show that you can enjoy it. Because we still make insightful music at the same time; we’re holding to that plan.

Y: The Clipse is known for consistency, with that being said, how do you challenge yourself to lyrically evolve without jeopardizing your established longevity?
P: Even though we are known for being very consistent, so on and so forth, I think that if we follow the rules of lyric driven Hip-Hop, you can’t too much fall off. But those rules can’t be broken. When you’re a lyric driven MC, you just have to keep coming with it after you switch up your style. When you’re switching up your style, you still have to implement those metaphors and similes into what you do. That’s how we keep it going.

Y: The last Clipse release was nearly three years ago, how are you balancing the act of lyrically nourishing your supporters without overfeeding them?
M: That’s really never been a problem for The Clipse [laughs]. We have a very distinct fanbase. Our fans roll with us. With all the delays that The Clipse have experienced with our career, that we’ve always overcame; it’s never been a problem.
P: We’re underfeeding them, if anything. All of our records are handcrafted. That plays a part into our consistency. We don’t do like 50 songs and cut back 30 and then throw 20 of them on the album. Each song we do is definitely handcrafted. It leds us to where we are in our lives; you know what I’m saying. It’s not a bunch of excess, man. Everything is directed to a point. I think that’s pretty much what we’re known for. It doesn’t matter what kind of songs we’re on, we always stay true to who it is that we are. Whether it be like a party record, a street record, or whatever – The Clipse always stays true to who it is that we are. You know, we just did a song with Keri Hilson [Eyes On Me], it’s a party joint. We got that song with Kanye West, Kinda Like A Big Deal; it’s street. With both of them songs and with the differences with those songs, never did we jeopardize or compromise who it is that we are. You can even go back, we did songs with Justin Timberlake and Backstreet Boys, even then The Clipse has always been The Clipse.

Y: How does your collaborations come about; do you approach the “hot commodity” or do you approach the artists who you respect their creativity?
M: We definitely pick our features according to their creativity. Like with Keri Hilson; we thought she was a great writer. We actually needed her to help us write the melody and the chorus [on Eyes On Me]. It just pretty much worked out. We also have a track with Cam’ron, we wanted to get somebody else who we respected, and who created their own lane, we wanted to see what that would be like. It turned out to be a phenomenal record.

Y: I was everywhere trying to find that song Popular Demand – I couldn’t find it.
M: You’ll never find it; so, stop it! [Laughs]

Y: You’re killing me!
M: Not yet.

Y: You were just talking about establishing that handcrafted sound for your album material; do you take that same approach when you’re making a mixtape?
P: Everything we do is handcrafted, from the albums to the mixtapes. I think that’s why our mixtapes are often regarded as albums or prepared to well-delivered albums. Everything we do is handcrafted. I think that’s one of the differences between lyric driven Hip-Hop and a lot of the Hip-Hop that goes on today; of course we can get into the booth and/or just get a pen and write some really petty shit within a hour, like it’s nothing. I think that our style of writing is a little more clever than that; it takes a little bit more effort.

Y: I respect that. There’s nothing worse than hearing the exact same verse on two different projects. That’s just terrible.
P: All the time [laughs].

Y: Within the last couple of years we’ve seen a resurgence of lyrical Hip-Hop. Both veteran MCs and emerging MCs like HISD, Johnny Polygon, Blu, Nipsey Hussle, Drake, and J. Cole, are showing that lyrical Hip-Hop is still around. Has witnessing this reformation made y’all want to go harder when you’re in the booth?
M: I enjoy Drake, I enjoy Kanye, I enjoy Styles P, Jadakiss. To me, with these guys, you can tell that they got those similes and metaphors that will evoke some kind of thought, and those punchlines hit real hard. I appreciate that.
P: I would have to say all of those guys are lyrical and Raekwon.

Y: Cold Outside and Surgical Gloves are my favorites from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2. Do you feel responsible for inspiring some of these emerging MCs?
P: We’re sure The Clipse has inspired a lot of people. I’m sure that we’ve lyrically inspired a lot of everybody, every way. And not even no guys that I’ve ranked on them, personally, about coming to the street stuff. I think that I have inspired plenty.

Y: Right now it’s cool to be a nerd, and before it was cool to be a rocker, do you think that we’re officially done with the dope boy era of Hip-Hop?
Malice: I don’t know if we can ever be done with it until the dope boy era of life is gone. Once you clear up the streets and take that aspect of life away – then it can be gone, I guess. I don’t see that happening otherwise.

Y: As long as people can still relate to it, it’ll always be viable in the marketplace?
P: Yeah, hell yeah!

Y: Is “happy” Hip-Hop on the horizon for The Clipse? I’m Good shows a different perspective from the established catalogue.
M: It’s not that it’s on the horizon. I mean, we make music according to our moods and what we are feeling at the time.
P: We make that real music; it’s true to life. It shows where we are at the present time. You know with Lord Willin’, everything was good. We have a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm. Then you got a dark album with Hell Hath No Fury. That was because of everything that was going on with the labels – with the delays and things of that nature. Now we’re back and things are running; the machine is actually working for us. So, we got three singles out right now. It’s on and popping right now. So, we’re in a better frame of mind, we’re in a happier place and our music definitely reflects that. Now if they f*ck up, our next album might not be the same. So, you might get us back to cussing and fussing again.

Y: Since Re-Up Records has partnered with Columbia, are you at peace with Columbia’s marketing approach and how they’re promoting The Clipse?
P: I think that Columbia has been doing a good job with this album. The people have been there and they’ve been working through. I feel like everybody is on board to work. The main thing is that we all have the passion and keep on working. We’re all working towards the common goal of ultimate success.

Y: The fans are essential to keeping MCs around; how would you describe the relationship that y’all have with your fans?
M: The relationship we have with our fans is very intimate and very forthright. Our fans are definitely the element that kept us alive with everything that we’ve experienced. We see the same faces it’s the diehard fans that have always been so vocal with it. They’ve definitely rode for The Clipse and gave us a voice when we didn’t have one – when we couldn’t get our music out there. Back when we were having problems going on with the label. They really kept us in the running.

Y: What’s your favorite social network that you use to stay connected with the fans?
M: I like Twitter; I think Twitter is cool, you know what I’m saying. It’s like real time. You could be doing a show and people that are in the same venue as you, you know, they’re telling the rest of the world how dope the show is and how we’re ripping it. You know, I like reading stuff like that.

Y: If I wanted to model for Play Cloths, how could I go about doing that…
P: You gotta come naked!

Y: Naked?
M: Honestly, we haven’t started making girl’s clothes yet.

Y: [Laughs] I was about to say. When President Obama took office, he inherited a slew of problems, the health care debate is causing a lot of concern. I was wondering, within the contract that you have with the label, is health insurance provided?
M: You know what, we actually do, through that and we have health insurance through AFNA. There’s a couple of different HMOs that we go through.

Y: Malice, with you being married, how do you deal with the trust issues that may arise with you being on the road as much as you are? There’s always those distracting boppers. Do you respect your wedding band and everything it signifies?
M: I used to freak off and do whatever I felt like doing, at that time. But, now, it’s like I deal with it. You know what I’m saying, it’s not a problem. You get tired of the same old monotonous mess and just being out there. Now, I’m just focused on the music. I’m dedicated to this plan and I’m trying to set up a good future.

Y: What concluding comments would you like to share with the folks out there?

M: We appreciate the fans! We take pride in holding up lyric driven Hip-Hop and giving you good insightful music. We’re doing crazy beats and things you can really groove to and enjoy, and bang in your car. Hopefully, our music won’t lead you to a dead end; we hope that you take something away from it. That’s what we really try to do and take a lot of pride from it. We appreciate all the support from all of our fans.


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