PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Clipse: Til the Casket Drops

Inconsistency across the board makes Clipse's third album one of 2009's biggest disappointments.


Clipse

Til the Casket Drops

Contributors: Pharrell, Cam'ron, The Neptunes, DJ Khalil
Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2009-12-08
UK Release Date: 2009-12-07
Amazon
iTunes

The Thornton brothers have, like too many other MCs, dealt with the frustration of label issues and album delays. Ever since dropping their debut, Lord Willin', it's been nothing short of trouble for Pusha T and Malice. Even with a few hit singles, such as "When the Last Time" and "Grindin'", and a top-tier production team (the Neptunes), Clipse still went through the label drama that hip-hop has become known for. The duo's follow-up, the critically lauded Hell Hath No Fury, basically dealt with much of the anger brooding beneath the surface. Of course, it was also full of rhymes about every aspect of cocaine, from cooking it on the stove to selling it in the streets. But it was their anger from putting up with so much unnecessary industry bullshit that stood out. For example, there's the line, "And I'm sorry to the fans but the crackers wasn't playing fair at Jive" from "Mr. Me Too".

Apparently, as plenty of Til the Casket Drops displays, most of those negative thoughts and feelings have subsided. To drive that point home, Pusha and Malice have told interviewers that Hell Hath No Fury was created out of a very specific mindset -- one that was dark, unhappy, pissed, etc... And it was an album they admitted could never be recreated because they the negativity just isn't there anymore. As a result, the sparse coldness of Hell Hath No Fury is gone. While the two MCs aren't exactly happy-go-lucky on here, they are absolutely more upbeat. There are very few references to pushing cocaine, too, so it goes without saying that Til the Casket Drops is primed to alienate some of Clipse's fanbase. Those looking for an album full of harsh street-tales over chilling beats should look elsewhere.

Pusha and Malice's third album is very much like a less insecure cousin to Jay-Z's third entry in the Blueprint series. Both feature huge highs and devastating lows that make for a frustrating listen. As such, both are also very inconsistent. From the rhymes to the beats, there is a strong disconnect from one track to the next. While some producers brought their best stuff to the table, others are clearly just recycling their material. On The Blueprint 3, Jay-Z was handed solid beats from No I.D., Kanye West, and the Neptunes. But Jigga also received some of Timbaland's most boring material.

And somewhere along the line, the Neptunes, who helped propel Clipse's career, decided they were complacent. Nearly every one of their beats on Til the Casket Drops incorporates tired sounds that we have all heard before. In particular, there is a video game-esque loop that plagues both "Door Man" and "All Eyes On Me", the latter of which is this album's worst track. The Neptunes have also fallen back in love with synthesizers. Used appropriately, like any instrument, synths can obviously work very well in hip-hop. But when they're just those run of the mill synths that rise and soar on every track, they can lose their appeal. The Neptunes are clearly no longer interested in crafting minimalist beats. Everything has become over the top to the point it's obnoxious and almost tacky -- see "Showing Out", a glitz-and-glamour track we have all heard before ad nauseum.

The Neptunes aren't complete failures on here, though. "Popular Demand (Popeyes)", which features Cam'ron, is excellent with its wheezy brass and clinking piano loop. And "Champion", a celebratory anthem, is equally enjoyable. It's just a shame that it appears on the same album as "I'm Good", which is essentially the same song. And all of the aforementioned misfires are mostly balanced by fantastic production from DJ Khalil and Sean C & LV, with the latter crafting the killer opening banger "Freedom". Khalil even goes so far as to save certain tracks that are otherwise dull content-wise, such as the shit-talking "Kinda Like A Big Deal". He also brings out the best in Pusha T and Malice, such as one the dub-influenced "There Was a Murder". For that track, the two MCs spit some of their finest storytelling raps on this record. It's only matched by the introspective "Footsteps", one of this album's best except for its awful Autotuned hook.

But, like with Jay-Z's latest record, those highlights aren't enough to save the album as a whole. For better and for worse, Pusha T and Malice complement their beat selection on Til the Casket Drops. And it all makes for one of the year's biggest disappointments from two of hip-hop's best lyricists. Just because you are celebrating and reflecting on your career does not mean the music has to suffer.

5

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.