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After the acclaimed Lord Willin which I didn't embrace as strongly as some, but did feel that it was promising for future releases, Clipse release their third album. Their first album was packed with jazz fused beats along with some darker beats.
However this album starts off quite differently, a sombre electric guitar sample provides the backdrop for the excellent Freedom. This is quite an introspective track which sees both delve into the personal lives, the error of their ways, where they went wrong and the people they have hurt along the way. It is also a celebration of them finding themselves and sticking a middle finger up to their critics to.
Kinda Like A Big Deal sees a collaboration between the group and Kanye West. Using another guitar sample it is quite a standard fare in terms of it not really serving any purpose besides boasting about what a big deal they are. However the beat is a good one and they all sound very assured on the microphone.
Exploring the introspective side of Clipse is Footsteps, it is a warning to not try and emulate what they have done because the consequences could be dire for those that do. It is Clipse venturing into consciousness which as they confess, "i hate conscious rap".
On the plus side the production on this album does show much more versatility. There are guitar samples, synth driven beats, dark beats, pounding beats. However there is a lot of club songs which are a miss for me as they seem too diluted. The other problem is the production is quite wayward and while the variety is good, it lacks a sense of cohesion.
Therefore songs like Counseling, All Eyes On Me are instantly skippable, while other songs like Popular Diamond struggle to go anywhere courtesy of an unbearable hook.
Overall this is disappointing, particularly after the first song on the album which had me in expectation of a very good album, instead it feels quite light weight and devoid of ideas most of the time.
"Til The Casket Drops" came as the long-awaited third album from the Virginai Hip Hop duo of Pusha-T and Malice; The Clipse. As a change to past recordings, with this one we see that here they get production from more sources than just The Neptunes as we see that The Hitmen and DJ Khalil also help out on this side of things to help them out as they bring more of the raw Hip Hop heard since they breakthrough "Grindin'" tune back in 2002.
Off a fresh introductary piece, we see that here they move right into one of the popular singles from the album and a tune that you really have to take notice of as you see just how The Neptunes take over the thing with heavy, off-beat beats which take on elements of the Audio Two's "Top Billin" drumloop. Pharrell of the production get some rhymes on this one, in addition to a more unexpected artist in Cam'ron.
3."Kinda Like A Big Deal"
Another pretty heavy single from the album, on this one we see that the Virginia pair are joined by Kanye West and of course when you get a big apperance from someone like 'Ye, you are bound to gather a lot of attention as we see that it takes the thing to a new level and helps to show where they'd like to take their music this time around as they go a little harder than on their last two records.
The Neptunes are back on the beats for this one and Pharrell steps up on the vocals too as an added extra, but I felt that the biggest surprise on the thing was having the Memphis rapper Yo Gotti coming on the thing. By having a Dirty South rapper known for a lack of lyrical skill on a record with a 'real Hip Hop' duo seems like a weird choice, and I don't think it was all that succesfful and sounded a little forced, but I'm sure some will feel it more.
This one features some summery production from Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo and I felt as though it suited the direction of this one as they talk about how they have got into a comfprtable position by this stage in their life. I felt as though this was a good candidate as a single to the thing as it shows a side of their music that we don't often get and so acts as a strong contrast and stands right out as a refreshing cut.
6."There Was A Murder"
DJ Khalil is behind this composition and it seems to change the direction of the music quite a bit as anything heard after the innovatively-futuristic, sample-less Neptunes style sounds to be so different to what anyone else is capable of. Here we see they come in with some Jamaican patois toasts brought forward as they speak on the snitching culture and the results of it, but I felt as though it had all been heard before and had little value here.
Here we see that The Neptunes get into a Old School Hip Hop mood and come out with some of the heaviest slaps to help the thing out and take them into a place that only they would be able to achieve successfully whilst still sounding as though they are pushing boundaries and taking things forward to places never seen before. The pace is low and it gives it a head-bopping feel that you can only get with heavy, underground Hip Hop such as this. #
8."Never Will It Stop"
Joined by Ad-Liva of the Re-Up Gang (a group which The Clipse are a part of) we see that for this one we get a rather typical tune from an act of this type as we get a little something where they come with rhymes which focus-in on their continual grind and we are given a chance to run through it all why they would never allow it to come to an end. Its decent, but nothing really all that original.
9."All Eyes On Me"
This was a great inclusion to the album and a track that I felt was an unexpected inclusion for them as it is miles away from the type of thing they came with on "Grindin'" and the "Lord Willin'" album it came with as they come with a club tune where they are joined by the Pop R&B singer Keri Hilson to appeal to a completely different audience. However I couldn't say I didn't feel it and it was a nice change to the thing (although I don't expect their fans to respond well to it(.
This is a banger of a tune and one that I felt would never have been able to sound as good unless Chad and Pharrell were behind the thing as we see that here they give some of the hardest beats with some fresh cuts to make you appreciate for all it has to offer and aid out the MCs as they go on in with flows which have them paying more attention to the relationships they've been in and how their views have changed over time.
This is a straight-forward uplifting tune from the two of them and I felt that it was a just a very nice one to see them come with. When you hear this one, it forces you to take note of how with this record they have clearly decided that they aren't scared to experiment a little more with the direction of the music and come out with something that gives them the chance to get more mainstream appeal.
DJ Khalil gives the two of them a straight-forward slowed-down Breakbeat to go off on. I felt as though it was a smooth one and it all came down to how this drumloop pushed them along. It seems to turn them back towards the deeper, more conscious material in spite of the fact they've been known mostly for their 'Coke Rap' material and just generally things which contradict this sub-genre in as many ways as you could possibly come up with.
The album ends with this one as we get one where The Neptunes get the chance to take control as I feel they should (after seeing them do all the beats for not only their other two albums, but also the shelved would-be debut album from them the year before they re-grouped and managed to finally do this. I felt that this one lacked a little and reflected all the things that I had problems with through the album.
I felt as though this album was a bit of a disappointing one as I simply expected more from them. It seemed as though they weren't making as much effort to show the lyrical depth that they have in the past and through out one that is trying to get them fans from places other than the underground as they have in the past. As an act that drops albums so infrequently, I felt as though it didn't really make sense to go down that route.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Popular Demand (Popeyes)
3 Kinda Like a Big Deal
4 Showing Out
5 I'm Good
6 There Was a Murder
7 Door Man
8 Never Will It Stop
9 All Eyes on Me
13 Life Change