clipse_9602-1_phixrThe music business has always been a “hustle hard” environment. If you’re not constantly moving your feet, then chances are your [record] label will be moving you right out the door.

As for the Virginia-based brother-duo the Clipse, their hustler’s mentality has been able to guide them through the treacherous realm known as the recording industry for almost ten years.

Despite not having a lengthy album catalog, siblings Gene “Malice” Thornton and Terrence “Pusha T” Thornton still managed to gain a cult-like type following with their Play Cloths clothing line, and their We Got It 4 Cheap mixtape series.

Now, three years removed from their last official release, Hell Hath No Fury, the cocaine cowboys finally return to serve their beloved fiends with their upcoming album Till The Casket Drops.

And on a hot summer day in Manhattan nestled away in the artist lounge at the Sony offices is where you’ll find the two, relaxing on an over-sized L-shaped leather couch, talking about everything from the mixtape game right down to their place in Hip-Hop…

iHipHop.com: Obviously you guys have Till The Casket Drops coming out really soon, so what can people expect to hear from that? Did you two pretty much keep your formula the same?

Pusha T: I think to describe it: We make these albums off of the moods that we’re in… In comparison, when you hear Lord Willin’ that was more carefree and raw… I feel like Hell Hath No Fury was pretty angry and dark…

And I think this [Till The Casket Drops] is more along the lines of a Lord Willin’ with its up tempo and raw energy… It’s dark in some spots—you know what I’m saying? But all around sonically, I’d like to call it Hip-Hop on steroids…

iHipHop.com: Speaking of Hell Hath No Fury, were you guys satisfied with the reception and the outcome it got? Or did you feel as if it was a little slept on?

Malice: I’m pretty much happy when I love the album myself, and I really don’t have too many expectations… I can’t sit back and hope it does “this,” or hope it does “that.” Everybody wants to do well, especially in monetary status… [Laughs]

Pusha T: [Laughing]…

Malice: But pretty much when I know I’ve done what I need to do, or I enjoy the music, I can sleep well… Some people say it was slept on, but we got a “XXL” so the critical acclaim was good, and I’m just happy with the work we did on it…

Pusha T: I think personally the album could’ve sold more units, but the critical acclaim was second to none… I don’t think I’ve seen that much admiration for a project critically in a long time…

clipse_studio_pharrelliHipHop.com: Is Pharrell working on Till The Casket Drops as well?

Pusha T: Him and Chad man, stop forgetting about Chad… Stop leaving the Filipino man out… [Laughs]

iHipHop.com: [Laughing]… He needs more camera time then… Out of sight, out of mind… [Laughs]

Pusha T: Nah man, he just taps and twittles… That’s all he do…

iHipHop.com: [Laughs]… Who else are you guys working with?

Pusha T: We for Sean C and LV from the Hitmen, and they did a lot of [Jay-Z’s] American Gangster, DJ Khalil—he did the ‘Kinda Like A Big Deal’ [Click to watch video] with us and Kanye [West], and he also did a few Slaughterhouse records [Click for Royce da 5'9" interview], plus the ‘Imma Do It’ record off Fab’s new album… [Click for album review]

That was it as far as production goes, but as far as features: Cam’ron, Keri Hilson, Kanye West, Pharrell, and Ab-Liva of course from the Re-Up Gang, and a couple more I can’t let out the bag right now…

iHipHop.com: [Laughs]… Speaking of the Re-Up Gang, is Sandman still a part of it?

Clipse: [Collectively] No…

Malice: Sandman wanted to pursue other ventures, and we definitely welcome that, because we know how it feels to be signed, but feel like you can be doing much more…

We definitely weren’t trying to hold anybody hostage, but the Re-Up Gang is still alive and well… Look for Ab-Liva’s album, that will be coming out next, and now it’s the three of us still rocking…

re-up-gangiHipHop.com: You guys aren’t going to have a “Making The Band” type-contest, and find a new member? [Laughs]

Clipse: [Laughing collectively]…

Pusha T: Nah, we’re just trying to put out that lyric-driven Hip-Hop… Just the same thing the Re-Up Gang has always been about…

Just having fun, being competitive, and just really saying “F*CK” everything that’s going on, and really doing something that you like… That’s all the Re-Up Gang has ever been about…

iHipHop.com: Like most of the artists out there, you guys have also been a victim of industry red tape, and just record label drama; so what keeps you sane?

Malice: If you’re trying to survive, you got to keep moving… That’s what inspired the mixtape series, and we’ve always been ourselves, and have done what the label doesn’t do… You can’t just expect them to do everything, and some labels aren’t as passionate about the work that you do…

Only you know that’s it’s your baby, so you know what it is… You know the emotion you have behind it or whatever… We definitely don’t cry over it, we keep it moving…

Just like with Jive [Records], when we saw how all that was going down, we made a whole big movie about it… [Laughs] The fans were in on it, and they saw how we were being treated, and they felt disrespected… So we just rode with the story, and kept it moving…

iHipHop.com: So how did you guys end up over here at Sony with Rick Rubin? Did you reach out to you?

l_55753f51a850a36f7e3cca9918967d85Pusha T: Basically “Hip-Hop” [Kyambo Joshua] was over here at the time, and he’s a fan of the Clipse… But we’re under the same umbrella still, so it wasn’t like it was a big switcha-roo; it wasn’t that…

All these labels are under a few different umbrellas, and those two labels happened to be under the same umbrella…

At the end of the day, all the checks are going into one spot… So that wasn’t really a big deal… We don’t really worry about the label stuff anymore…

iHipHop.com:  How do you guys feel about your careers up to this point? Do you feel as if you get the recognition and respect you deserve? Does any of that stuff ever bother you two?

Malice: Not really man… Me personally, I’m just thankful… When you look back, we’ve been here for a little bit over ten years… When we do shows, you just sit back and listen to the songs and you listen to that catalog—we put a lot of dope hits…

We put out a lot of good music, and not only that, those songs kept us afloat with the fans when things weren’t going right with the label… Those songs kept us traveling, and I don’t even know too many groups that have been overseas as much as we have… [Laughs] I count everything as a plus, and I think the ends justify the means, and it’s not over yet…

Pusha T: Number two: We’re from Virginia, and I don’t feel the whole “underrated” or “overrated” pressure… We’re not in that rat race with a lot of these other people… They’re in a place where this happens everyday…

If you’re in New York—there’s a million of you guys… And there’s a million signed ones… That’s not how life is like where we live at… We are “it” where we live, and those pressures don’t exist… All you have to do is be nice to yourself…

iHipHop.com: Speaking of pressure, with the exception of the Re-Up Gang album you guys put out through KOCH last year, this next one is an official Clipse album. So you didn’t feel any pressure going into it?

l_c0057b62a34ae46944548367ac49c850Malice: It’s never been about that… It’s about getting the music, loving the music, and marrying each track… We’re true to ourselves…

You can’t just get out here, and try to live up to any expectations… Because then it becomes forced, and it becomes something different…

You have to feel it, you have to love it, and you have to believe in what it is that you’re saying…

I think that’s really been our secret: Coming up with The Neptunes, and we’ve always had fun in the studio… The atmosphere was laid back, and there’s really no pressure…

iHipHop.com: Earlier, Malice talked about being in the game for over ten years. So with that said, have you found it difficult keeping your name in circulation each year with tons of other artists coming out, and millions of other mixtapes to download on the Internet?

Malice: But they’re not all good…

iHipHop.com: [Laughing]…

Pusha T: And they killed it… They RUNIED it! Out of those 50 mixtapes, there’s only five that are good…

Malice: We can do that kind of mixtape style too by the way… We can put out a million mixtapes with original beats… The criteria is different, and if we could do that, it would be much easier for me… I’ll tell you that right now…

iHipHop.com: [Laughing]…

Pusha T: The criteria for a mixtape is so different now… For me, and I’m sure this seems old school: But the criteria is bussing over other people’s beats competitively… Or bussing over something nostalgic, and putting whatever year it is flare on top of that…

Back in the day, they wanted to beat up [DJ] Clue for dropping the Biggie single, but that was just about the spirit of competition… So right now all the C and D-rated production and rhyming 50,000 bars and 50 songs on a mixtape—it doesn’t do the same…

  • http://www.ihiphop.com/smooth29 calm (BK ALL DAY)

    THESE DUDES ARE NICE,IF U A FAN OF HIP HOP,YOU APPRECIATE THE CLIPSE.THEY BEEN CONSISTENT WITH THEY ALBUMS AND THE WE GOT IT 4 CHEAP MIXTAPES…JUST WAITING ON A TRACK WITH JAY…UNO…….