Clipse – Til the Casket Drops

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Hell Hath No Fury was a bitchin’ album, but expectations’ a bitch, and I think Til the Casket Drops was one of those albums where everyone had already made up their minds before they went in, then looked up the en.wikipedia article on self-fulfilling prophecies to make sure they were doing it right as they wrote it off. 

I’m not claiming it’s a perfect album: like Lord Willin’, there’s a marked drop in quality around the second half, though in this case, it’s not because Pusha T and Malice haven’t found their way as rappers yet and can’t carry an album all the way through. Rather, it’s simply because Til the Casket Drops decides to descend into the contemporary R&B sound that a lot of mainstream hip-hop in the late 00s was guilty of (have you guys seen the stuff that was nominated for Grammy’s around this time? T.I.’s Paper Trail, Common’s Universal Mind Control, Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3, etc. 2009 was the time when mixtapes – J. Cole, Freddie Gibbs, Lil B, Curren$y, Drake (to name a few) – were infinitely more interesting). This is especially troubling since The Neptunes had previously gone to lengths to make sure that Clipse had distinct beats. Elsewhere, Cam’ron’s verse on “Popular Demand (Popeyes)” is shockingly atrocious, “Like MAN, I could get used to you / Woulda RAN, if you knew what I used to do / But call me uncle, yeah Uncle CAM / I tax ’em. (Like who?) Like Uncle SAM.” Yeesh, and I’m not kidding about the parts that I all-capsed, because they’re emphasized for no reason at all, and the chorus of the same song, where Pusha T hopelessly “sings” “I’m back by popular demannnnd” is almost equally embarrassing. 

As mentioned, the good stuff comes early. Pusha T’s verses on both “Freedom,” where he lays his soul to bear, and “Popular Demand (Popeyes),” where he impressively milks a single rhyme for all it’s worth, are some of the best in his career, if not the best. Meanwhile, the Neptunes cook up great beats for both, using a melodic soul and guitar to carry “Freedom” because there’s no time for a proper chorus (and live drums, too), and whips up a great piano loop on “Popular Demand (Popeyes).” On first single, “Kinda Like a Big Deal,” producers DJ Khalil and Chin Injeti – surprisingly, not Kanye West – build a completely different song out of the same beat components as “Freedom.” But this time it’s pure braggadocio over top, which is fine because that’s Kanye West’s expertise when it comes to rapping (though this one in particular will be a hate-it or love-it type thing), “Special Ed, got head from a girl in special ed / You know the pretty ones in that dumb class / But she got that dumb ass / Hit high school and got pregnant dumb fast / ‘What happened Teesha, your boyfriend come fast?’ / Turn around, give me pound like we folks / ‘Hell no, I went raw-dog, three strokes!’” 

Unfortunately, it’s around “Showin’ Out” where there’s a marked dip in quality. Sure, the high pitched squealing synth during the verses olf “Showin’ Out” is a goodie, but the beat of the choruses are too “Ms. Jackson” for my liking. That being said, Malice’s closing verse on “Showin’ Out” makes it all worth it, “I’m from the era, of letter to the better / They tell me rap change, well I’mma have to let her / Common loved her, I wish I never met her / They slutted her out, there’s nothing left to treasure.” Second single “I’m Good” is when the rapping begins to slip, although Pharrell’s hook and the busy beat manage to compensate. Virtually nothing happens on the 5-minute “Door Man” if you manage to look past the annoying yelling of the title’s words (it’s otherwise a sparse drum thing and an added whirl later), and stuff like “Eyes On Me” and “Counseling” are the album’s answer to everyone who wanted another “Ma, I Don’t Love Her” – except no one did. And unlike “I’m Good,” there’s no chorus or beat worth talking about and you’re left hearing “I used to be all about a fat ass / Then I found a cutie with a flat ass / Good head, nice smile but her flat ass” and wondering how you got there.

So basically…download the first four tracks and have a readalong, and download the fifth track and have a singalong and bump Hell Hath No Fury again until Pusha T figures out his solo career.

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