Guessing by the titles of some of their earlier work, the hip-hop duo Clipse was on a fast-track to fame by any means necessary.
The recording industry gave the group’s commercial debut album “Lord Willin’” gold certification in 2002, with familiar hits like “Grindin’” and “When the Last Time” playing over and over on the radio.
But it came at a cost for former Clipse member Gene “No Malice” Thornton, once known as Malice.
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“It was a lifestyle of doing whatever it was you personally wanted to do, whatever it was – a life of material, a life of ego and arrogance, in some instances, and just coming to an understanding of what life is really about and deciding to make a change,” said Thornton.
No Malice, is in town this week to promote a new film, "The End of Malice," he’s in with Pharrell Williams, his brother and former Clipse colleague Pusha T, and Iceman, another rapper in their group.
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On Monday, Thornton and his crew visited the men’s prison at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford to share their story. Thornton probably narrowly escaped prison himself back in the days when he took living a rapper's life for granted.
“The End of Malice” chronicles the life of Thornton, originally from The Bronx, who begins his tale as one of the typical rappers who was infatuated with the drug culture often systematic in inner urban communities. He intertwined it in his rhymes. Clipse was hot in the 1990s and 2000s when they signed with The Neptunes’ Williams.
In the movie trailer, Thornton says that in 2009, “the devil was coming for his stuff back.”
“’The End of Malice’ basically shows Malice coming to an end and what brought Malice to this end, an end that he so desperately needed to come to,” said Thornton.
“It chronicles my life within the industry, in the music business, my family life and where I am today. You get to see other perspectives from my peers that were right alongside me – namely, my brother, Pusha T, Pharrell and the Iceman.”
Thornton said the film takes the audience through his untold story 20 years later, looking back on mistakes he made in his youth and lessons learned along the way.
At Graterford, Thornton and his crew gotto show the movie to inmates, sit for a Q&A session and give feedback to other men who have struggled in the past with similar issues.
“I got to see the responses and emotions that we evoked because of the movie,” he said.
“As far as the reception, they were drawn in and very much captivated by the message. Even the Muslims, they really enjoyed the story. I thought it was good. I made it very clear to them that what I’m here to do is share my story. I’m not coming in there thinking I have all the answers, but if I can teach somebody something – and I’m just sharing my experiences – hopefully many of the inmates can relate.”
The film airs on REVOLT TV on March 27.