Though they grew up together, the Clipse didn’t grow up rapping to each other.
Malice (Gene Thornton) said he got into hip hop first, through another, older brother.
“My brother, Pusha, was not even into the rhyming thing,” said Malice. “He really wasn’t . . . (But) we had an older brother who really was. He’d breakdance every day, press record on a boom box and rhyme straight into the speaker.”
Later, Pusha-T (Terrence Thornton) picked up the mic during a session at Chad Hugo from the Neptunes’ house. Malice said Hugo, who’s crafted beats for Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg, among others, was working on demos and Pusha tried out some rhymes. The result, said Malice, was amazing.
Once they connected artistically, Malice said everything fell into place, as sharing viewpoints on life helped when trading lyrics. A long-term friendship with the Neptunes also shaped the brothers’ sound — a throwback to years ago, when hip-hop albums came from strong partnerships between rappers and producers. Pointing to the work of Guru and Premier, Malice said he and Pusha-T’s friendship with the Neptunes, who grew up in the same neighbourhood, reflects that.
“That time was when hip hop was great for us,” he said. “You’d get that timeframe when an album wasn’t a collage, when producers came aboard with artists for a whole album.”
The new album, Hell Hath No Fury, maintains that consistency, uniting the Neptunes’ anxious, minimal beats with the brothers’ hard-edged raps. This comes despite the disc being completely reworked in the four years of legal wrangling since the group’s debut, the comparatively upbeat Lord Willin’, was released.
“We scrapped the first one . . . (which) was consistent with how we were feeling at the time,” he said. “After four years, we’re not as happy . . . That’s why the tracks are darker.”