new Clipse album just about out

. . . and if you know the right places, Till the Casket Drops has already leaked.  I’ve listened to it a few times since Monday and remain somewhat disappointed.  I didn’t imagine it would equal or top their 2007 classic Hell Hath No Fury (best hip-hop album of the 2000s); honestly, I expected the attempt to re-attain those heights to derail this album.  Not sure if that’s the reason Casket sounds mediocre in most stretches, but, while I certainly don’t think Malice and Pusha have “lost their flow” or whatever, I do find myself hankering for some “Ride Around Shinin” or “Trill” (the late track on Hell Hath that sounds like an early NIN effort).

The album has one true banger–“Eyes on Me,” which will make you a Keri Hilson semi-fan–and a couple of solid solid tracks, all of which are on the first half.  This being Clipse, there are plenty of memorable rhymes (“A far cry from the stash in a rental van, / I’m the reason the hood need a dental plan”), and since the Neptunes produced two-thirds of the songs, the beats are above-average as far as U.S. hip-hop circa 2009 goes.  Still, much of the production is sluggish (if not lazy), and in places the verbal flow is slack, as if the anger that propelled Hell Hath is gone.  As a fan, this bugs me, but I also realize it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that they aren’t as pissed-off as they used to be: it may indicate that, finally, finally, Clipse are having some commercial success in the game.

What irks me most is the cover art, which has this lame bubble-gum / cartoon beef color scheme and general Artistically Serious Grafitti aesthetic, sort of like a t-shirt you might get at a boutique in a neighborhood that used to be only partly gentrified.  Happily, I have a tiny iPod Nano and don’t have to look at it much.

So, TGR advice: don’t buy the whole album before you preview the tracks.  You will probably end up keeping only three or four.  But they do bump.

-TGR

PS: Isn’t it amazing that one corner of Virginia–the southeastern Hampton Roads metro sprawl–has produced Timbaland, Clipse, the Neptunes, AND Missy Elliott?

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