Clipse: Ride Around Shining
From Hell Hath No Fury (Jive/Zomba, 2006)

Clipse: Diana Ross
From The Funeral (Elektra, unreleased, ~ 1997)

The new Clipse album is quite good. Even though it’s not nearly as good as this, compared to this or this, it comes off a lot stronger. “Ride Around Shining” is one of the best tracks off a scant 12 songs and it begs the question: if the Neptunes are still capable of dropping beats like this, what happened on Pharrell’s album? Just asking.

Speaking of the Clipse…I was listening to this earlier today and what came home like a ton of bricks (pick what type) is not a new observation but one that bears repeating : the old model was someone like Jay-Z bragging about going from the crack game to the rap game and that his ability to master both is a sign of his ultimate hustler status. However, post-Clipse (and exemplified by Young Jeezy, Juelz Santana, et. al.), the new standard is that real hustlers never left the kitchen. Forget platinum plaques or gold records – it’s all about Pyrex and baking soda. The real rappers don’t see themselves as rappers – it’s a remarkable pose.

Quick (and admittedly undercooked) thoughts: Is hip-hop the only lyric-based genre (in other words, excluding jazz or classical but including rock, blues, etc.) that calls attention to its own linguistic aesthetic? It’s not like jazz divas shout themselves out by claiming, “check my range” or “step to my melisma and get bodied” Nor do blues singers moan about how their songwriting creativity is more morose than the next person’s. It seems that hip-hop is inherently self-referential but maybe the fact that rappers have now moved away from wanting to focus on the fact that they’re, you know, rapping, is actually pushing it closer in line with most of popular music. Chew on that and holler back.

In any case, I also put up a song from the Clipse’s first (and unreleased) album for Eleketra: “Diana Ross.” Interesting example of early Neptunes production and the Clipse’s nascent attempts at craft their crack rap persona but believe me when I say that by the time they got to Lord Willin, it definitely came together better.

P.S. If the above image doesn’t make immediate sense to you, the translation = “we are not rappers” and you can refer yourself to here for further explanation.

Special thanks to Triple H for the old Clipse joints.