Monday, December 7, 2009

Clipse - Til the Casket Drops | Album Review

Til the Casket Drops
Label: Columbia Records
Release Date: December 8th, 2009

By Dom Corleone, contributing writer and full-time blogger at Hold the Throne

Four long years waiting for a new Clipse LP was almost as bad as that second George Dubya term. After suffering from numerous label issues and learning first-hand about Industry Rule #4080, brothers Gene “Malice” and Terrence “Pusha T” Thornton landed a deal with Columbia Records in ’07 while pursuing their own venture Re-Up Gang Records. Til The Casket Drops is the result of much turmoil, the duo’s response to a business that all but forgot about the coke-pushin’, word-flippin’ hustlers from Virginia.

Til The Casket Drops is distinctly different from Lord Willin’ and Hell Hath No Fury - primarily due to the production roster and song concepts – though a common thread is the embodiment of each rapper’s struggle, whether dealing drugs or making music, which leads to celebrating triumph despite immense pressure. Sadly, the focus is on the joy this time rather than the labor required to attain it.

On the best intro of their career “Freedom,” younger bro Pusha warns that there’s more to fame than meets the eye, over a powerful, guitar-laden Sean C & LV instrumental. Malice continues to analyze his mistakes, then thanks God that he “has been refined.” Interestingly enough, we are forced to wait until the album’s closer “Life Change” to hear a similar level of passion in their rhymes. Thankfully, the outcome is what fans expect of a Clipse and Neptunes song.

There’s plenty of flaunting in between to satisfy today’s rap consumer. Cam’ron supports on The Neptunes-produced street anthem “Popular Demand (Popeyes)” while Yo Gotti hops on “Showing Out” where Pusha rips through punchlines like “Seein’ through ya poker face, that nigga bluffin’/ Ladies goin’ gaga for a nigga, tryin’a fuck him.” Kanye West lends a hilarious verse to “Kinda Like A Big Deal” over a knocking DJ Khalil beat for one of the disc’s best songs. Even so, it’s no “Grindin’.”

Other parts of the album are straight up unremarkable. The Pharrell-assisted “I’m Good” flops harder than a soccer player plus “All Eyes On Me” with Keri Hilson is a bubble-gum soft dance song where the rappers uncharacteristically dumb it way down. Repetitive hooks (“Champion”) and uninspiring concepts (“There Was A Murder”) infest TTCD – there’s no experimental “Mr. Me Too” or free-flowing “Cot Damn” to captivate the listener. The Thornton Bros redeem themselves finally as the disc winds down, with the lustful groove of “Counseling” and the uplifting, bass-heavy “Footsteps” where Malice gets real, rapping “I wish to see you succeed/So I speak to my people, the spirit of Chuck D.”

I can’t say that I dislike TTCD, but I had higher expectations based on the plethora of the duo’s gritty mixtape material and proven track record. While producing individual songs worthy of multiple spins, a full listen is tarnished by flailing singles and conceptual redundancies. I’d much rather hear Clipse rap about selling white, because they took an artistic approach to facing their demons – it’s less inspiring now that they seem to have conquered them all.


  1. Top review Dom. Nice piece.

    I echo you're sentiments really. Some good tracks but a lot of filler too. The whole album seems to lack focus. There's the pop songs and some more deep songs but the balance isn't right.

    After their previous efforts yo expect more of the gritty type of tracks from Clipse but us album seems a deliberate move to a more pop sound overall.

    However the brothers Thornton don't seem totally at ease and in their element on the more poppy songs. But as they aren't big sellers, you can understand the reasons for doing those songs. The results are disappointing though.

    Kinda Like A Big Deal is one of the top street bangers this year. But it's impact is lost cos it's mad old at this point. I loved it when it came out (play count = 100) but now it's more of a skip.

    There is some good stuff on this album though. If KLABD was a new track and if the pop songs were replaced with some more Clipse-like tracks then this album mght have reached the level of Lord Willin and HHNF.

    Last point: Clipse will never top Grindin. I copped Lord Willin just for that one track and I had to order the CD specially cos no store had it. However I think you can put Clipse in with other artists who don't look like they will ever make a better song than their first big hit. 50 Cent? Beyonce?

  2. Oops, damn iPod messing up my punctuation.

    "Your" not "You're"!!!

    I know Ivan never fails to spot when people do that...

  3. ^ I only point it out when the "your" is followed by "an idiot". I <3 Irony.

  4. Thanks for the love, Doc!

    I'm not sure this album will move major units, since even the pop songs aren't that popular. You're right, if KLABD was released a month ago it would be heavily buzzin' right now. I feel like they stretched out the single releases too far, all caused by the label issues.

    Overall, it will prove to be one of the better albums this year but it's far from what I expected, that's for certain.

    Want another to add to your list of artists that won't make a better song than their first hit? .. I think Method Man & Redman ("Da Rockwilder") and Drake will undoubtedly end up on that list.

  5. Gotta disagree with you regarding "Freedom" being their best intro. The intro on Road til the Casket Drops smokes it... it's definitely one of Clipse's best songs, period.

  6. Drake has a chance to come up with better songs. Purely from a production/guest feature point of view. He's got the big guns on tap to give him the backing. So his odds are better than others.

    Personally my favourite Drake track was Little Bit, even though it wasnt really his song at all.

    Cant top their first hit? Joe Budden. He's done better tracks than Pump It Up (Focus) but he wont get a bigger hit.