Old School Trend Stops Here: Clipse, WHY?

I am a very loyal music fan. I went through an itunes induced mania in early college, and then music streaming websites (like imeem) further threatened to erode my musical attention span. Sixth to ninth grade I was perfectly content to listen about a dozen cds, late high school saw a time of horizon expansion, and by 19 I was consuming and disposing of music at faster rates than cash for clunkers went bust.

But now I’m getting back to my original formula, even if it means a few chafe marks from the high velocity world of music consumption. As this blog will attest, I kinda just get into one group/artiste and am fixated for a long time. CUZ like I said, I’m loyal.

Take Clipse. Maybe it’s because they themselves are bitter that they’ve never become megastars, or maybe its because they’re also an underdog in my friend group, but I feel obligated to defend Clipse till my casket drops.

What? You say their new single sucks? No way, man, I’m going to find a way to like it, even if it takes 10 listens and a close-reading of the lyrics to find one golden nugget. Fortunately, I normally don’t have to dig so hard to like Clipse jams. (Kinda Like a Big Deal is pretty good, and stuff.)

But for real: “All Eyes On Us?”  I can’t make myself like it. There is just something disingenuous about Pusha shouting like a Miami party boy: “Life as we know it begins on Friday night! Bright lights, big city!” Bright lights, big city? Seriously? I thought this album was called Till the Casket Drops! I was expecting some heavy shit, not party till we drop philosophizing. The song is rigidly formulaic and rhythmically uninteresting; there are no epic twists, no delightful turns of phrase. And they don’t even sound like they’re having fun buying Gucci Fendi Louis or having sex with prostitutes. Or cooking up that “slumdog millionaire.” (crack, i believe)

Pharrell adds a few Kraftwerkesque ascending water droplet arpeggios… or are they just 90s Timbaland sound effects? The track channels old schoolness/Run DMC with that blary sample. Also, Pusha and Malice slick-rick it in a flareless 4/4… or as though they are imitating their tour-mates, the Cool Kids. But rudimentary rhythm is just not their delivery style.

For the Lord’s sake, these guys are hard motherfuckers. Malice–well, his game name is MALICE–spits pretty vicious stuff. And Pusha-T gets his name from his crack dealing days. He also sounds pretty mad most of the time, or otherwise quite cynical and resigned to the ironies of fate. Though this song makes mention of drug deals and dirty money, it’s at best a revision-lite on the themes visited in Hell Hath No Fury’s “Dirty Money.”

Oh yeah, and Keri Hilson guests. Though “Knock You Down” and “Turnin’ Me On” were gigantic hits, a Keri Hilson on a track does not a megahit make.

In other words, where’s the gangsta lean? I will allow for one misfired pander to commercial hip hop, but that’s it.

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