The Clipse and The Re-Up Gang: I-95 Alive
If you are to believe their tales of success in the crack game, it would seem that The Clipse could use another reminder. After their debut went gold in just two months, their follow up hasnt reached the half million mark in nearly a year and a half. Dont chalk the sophomore slump up to a dip in quality or credibility, but to bad timing and to an even worse label situation.
Today is a new day though, the Brothers Thornton have a imprint deal at Columbia and their Philly protgs in tow. Its time to Re-Up.
HipHopDX: Hows the response to the We Got It 4 Cheap Volume 3 mixtape been [click here to listen...]? How many have you got out there?
Ab Liva: Man, weve been getting a great response from it.
Pusha T: Its been crazyweve got [20,000], maybe a little less than 20.
DX: Obviously, its a precursor to the next album. Weve heard youre branching out a little not just The Neptunes. Can you tell us who else youre working with?
Pusha T: Weve been in with Scott Storch, The Runners, Dame Grease, THX
Ab Liva: Were comin with some names youll know, some names you never heard of.
DX: Is a Re-Up Gang album coming as well?
Pusha T: Yeah, fsho.
DX: Before or after?
Pusha T: Were trying to work that out now. Its been in the makings for the Re-Up to come next. Were actually going to re-distribute the mixtape through Koch. [Were going to] shoot videos for 20K [Money Making Brothers on the Corner] and Show You How I Hustle. You know, just keep building, giving this thing [as much] life as possible.
DX: Hows the situation with Columbia working out?
Malice: It feels good right now, man. Everything remains to be seen. But Im happy with the atmosphere. Im happy with the support from Hip Hop, and just to be under a legend like Rick Rubin it just has a set up for everything positive. So, you know, it feels good and I look forward to seeing what happens.
DX: You guys are one of the few groups that get love from every side of the board, given that your content is [often] about crack. The underground cats usually hate on rappers with that type of content, yet they love you guys. Is there a secret to what youre doing? Or is it just that you guys make good shit?
Malice: To me, its more so the realness; its the metaphors and the parallels we drawregardless of what we talk about, the fundamentals of Hip Hop are still there. I think the underground [fans] and the purists can see that in whatever we do.
Ab Liva: I think that we bring integrity to it. Lyrically, were trying to push it to the next level, so they have to respect it.
DX: When your lyrical content is so often the same how is it that youre able to reinvent that topic and say it in a new and interesting way? What do you do that keeps it interesting, whereas often times other rappers content gets old after one album?
Ab Liva: We think. We really put thought into everything that we do, and really try to up the bar, and outdo ourselves every time.
DX: Heres the million-dollar question: does anyone do crack rap better than you guys?
Pusha T: Hell no! You crazy? [Laughs]
DX: No Jay-Z, no Raekwon?
Malice: I respect those artists, they do they thing. Just right now, were trying to fill that void and take that spot. And by any means, well get there.
DX: Is the stuff with Lil Wayne dead? Is it something youre not concerned with anymore?
Pusha T: Were not concerned with it, were just being respondent. That shit comes out of nowhere sometimes. We just respond to it. It is what it is.
DX: So does that mean you wont be performing What Happened to that Boy tonight?
Pusha T: Thats our song anyway.
DX: Well just because Baby
Pusha T [Laughing]: No one else is on that record! You liar!
DX: Going back to the mixtape the beats you chose to freestyle over, was that an indicator of artists that youd like to work with, or just beats that you love, or a mix of the two?
Ab Liva: Basically, they were beats we thought were hot, that we thought we could spit on. They were beats we just wanted to do our thing on.
Malice: To be honest, Spirit of Competition was supposed to be all recent beats that people came out with it was supposed to be Jay-Z, Kanye, Nas, all these guys and all these albums we were gonna take these beats from and black out. But, production-wise, it just wasnt inspiring. Not too many of the records were inspiring production-wise. We had to go back to Scenario 2000 with Swizz and The L.O.X., Rainy Dayz with Raekwonusually its that music that makes us want to put our spin on it. I wish it couldve been different, but producers fell short this year.
DX: Speaking of producers, you mentioned recently that you like to bring the dark shit out of Pharrell. That you really dig songs like Ride Around Shining that have a darker, more paranoid feel. With the new producers that youre working with, are you trying to bring that out of them as well?
Pusha T: The producers basically do their thing. They know what The Clipse tend to rhyme over. They just try and come up with their best ideas for us. Were just trying to come up with what makes sense. We let them do their thing, and we do our thing over the tracks. We dont try to spearhead them in any direction.
Malice: And you know, that Hell Hath No Fury album that was a mood. I think you can tell the major difference between Hell Hath No Fury and Lord Willin, and now this is a whole new mood. Say, Storch, The Runnersits gonna be some amazing shit. We in a different spacewe were sort of fucked up over that Hell Hath No Fury shit. It was a bitter time an angry time.
DX: You hear a lot of guys who make 50, 60 songs for an album and whittle it down to 10 or 15. What do you guys do?
Pusha T: We never do that. We always make 13, and put 13 out. It might not end up being like that this time, cause you gotta go fuck with different people, and then try to trim it down.
DX [Laughing]: So if you guys die, theres no posthumous album coming out?
Pusha T: Were not havin no Tupac legacy, God damn it! Youd better just keep rewinding. [Laughing] Were dead when we die.
DX: For you two [Ab Liva and Sandman], since this will be your first official album to come out, what expectations do you have and how has the Clipses experience molded your expectations?
Ab Liva: Basically, I expect everyone to enjoy the music. The Re-Up Gang album is coming together so well, I want everyone to enjoy the music. I think they will, because were really goin in. Like I said, everyones raising the bar. Just watching the last couple of years [Pusha and Malice] release their albums, and how the fans and the critics have received them, its just an inspiration to us and let us know were in the right lane. Were gonna try to continue and uphold that legacy, and make sure everyone enjoys the music.
Sandman: First of all, youve got a group that went platinum first time out the gate, so they set a bar just for themselves to follow that up. With us, I feel like we have to do that or better; I feel like if we dont hit that plateau me personally if we dont hit that, we didnt do what were supposed to do. Because the music isnt the question we know were doing the music. Were happy about everythingsome of these cats that do got a million under they belt? Well, one half of my [group] got a million under they belt, and then some. Lookin forward to the slaughter!
DX: How different is it participating in Hip Hop in 2008, even versus 2002? With album sales down, and ringtones up, [how do you adjust]?
Malice: I feel like you might have a hard time dealin with it if thats your focus. With us, its always been about having quality work. And the riches and the spoils that come with it come with it. You have to love what it is that you do, and were really passionate about it. Were used to waiting. You know that the biggest hit that The Clipse are known for, that shit was nine months in the making? So were just sittin there watchingthat was nine months of wondering, Why isnt this shit blowin? We thought it was the greatest shit to come outso its likeeverything came hard to us except getting a record deal.
DX: How important is it to be the representatives of Virginia and Philly, respectively?
Pusha T: Its great to be the representatives were the only ones still there! We are Virginia. Thats just what home is, and its definitely what made us.
Malice: And I think we give Virginia an identity. Or at least contribute to giving Virginia an identity. It feels good to be in the forefront, andnot be legendary butwhats it called? Be a pioneer. It feels good to be a part of that.
Ab Liva: I know me and Sandman definitely hold Philly down. We travel a lot, so we not home as much as we would like to be, but we always hold that torch for Philly everywhere we go. We hold it down, keep movin it forward, and make sure we represent it right.
Sandman: Yeah, I cant really say too much differentPhilly [is] home to a lot of emcees, but theres only one Sand and one Aband when it comes to that city, well always call it home.