The Clipse — A Day in the Life
The Clipse's new album 'Til the Casket Drops' features Kanye West, Keri Hilson and album artwork by graffiti legend Kaws. The inscrutable, hard-boiled Virginia Beach rappers re-popularized coke rap -- thanks in part to a former manager recently admitting to distributing more than a half-ton of cocaine and marijuana -- are the same humble, soft spoken blood brothers who came up with Pharrell "Skateboard P" Williams and now run their own successful fashion line, Play Cloths.
While 'Til the Casket Drops' includes some of their most club-oriented music to date, the Clipse appear to be in the most comfortable position of their music career. The indisputable rap darlings of the indie rock/hipster/graff/sneakerhead scenes are quoted by those in the know, revered in the streets and art school dorms alike. And, for the Clipse, if it keeps them busy, they don't mind being hip-hop's insider-outcasts. Their new effort features Gene "Malice" Thornton and Terrence "Pusha T" Thornton at their most polarized, their most extreme; Pusha, the duo's party animal, cracking crack jokes, as the elder and more down-to-earth Malice begs God for forgiveness. The Boombox followed around the brothers Thornton, when they blew into NYC for a whirlwind promotional run for their album, heading straight from the airport to Sony/Columbia's offices for a round of interviews, without so much as a break to wash off the flight.
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"We never get to do things that New York is known for offering," Pusha noted. "Every time we come here it's for work."
"We had to eat in the car the other day," Malice mourned.
"Yeah, I hate eating in the car. And it was good food -- Grand Marnier shrimp. Who eats Grand Marnier shrimp, in a f---ing car? F---ing idiots," Pusha joked, shaking his braids.
Rappers are rarely lauded for their grueling promotional schedules, but Pusha and Malice literally didn't have a free moment to sit and enjoy the city. In an ideal world, Pusha said he'd prefer to "go to a few stores and just shop and actually use all the connects that I know, to get discounts and free things, pack them up and then Fed Ex them home ... and then I would work. I'd work!"
"Yeah, and work good, without an attitude!" his brother chimed in. Instead, they're off to their record label's offices and talking to journalists.
The first interview was with XXL magazine's Combat Jack, whom Pusha is a big fan of. "I just got turned onto his blog, and it's really dope. It's good because he's a guy that knows what the f--- he's talking about. Even if he was to diss us, he might even have grounds to, cause I'm pretty sure he knows what he's talking about, but he seems to be a pretty big fan of the Clipse."
Next, they sat down with Reverend Run's son, JoJo, who interviewed them for Global Grind, wearing Play Cloths, which they both enjoyed. "Run DMC was like my favorite group, you know?" Malice admits. "When me and Pusha would get into arguments, he would go in my room and rip off my Run DMC posters, so to be there getting interviewed by his son is like, it trips me out."
From there they headed over to Fuse's offices, where they discussed the recent controversy over their 'Popular Demand (Popeye's Chicken)' video, which they shot at Obama's Fried Chicken in Harlem. "Somebody thought it was racist," Pusha explained, after the interview. "It was called Obama's Fried Chicken, so they decided to blur it and 'X' it out of all the videos and CNBC and all these different news sites came up and had something to say about it, that ordinarily wouldn't talk about a group like the Clipse."
"Everybody loves fried chicken," Malice added, dismissively.
"Yeah, black people, white people ... " his brother sided.
"Chinese people, Indians, everybody..." Malice continued.
"Mules," concluded Pusha.
After an interview at Power 105's radio station with old Virginia pal DJ Envy, Pusha and Malice finally stopped at their hotel to drop off their luggage. "Seems like everything's on the go," Malice noted. "Just on the go, on the go, on the go. You can't even relax good, you might as well just go ahead and do everything you need to do."
With that, they headed back out to Bet's '106 & Park' where again the topic at hand was their controversial 'Popeye's Chicken' video. "[Host] Rocsi actually said she wanted me to cut my hair off," Pusha said after the taping. "I told her I was going to, but I don't know if I like the fact that she told me that." He thought for a second, then grinned. "It's all good. We always have this ongoing debate about what cheesesteak is better, cause I met her a long time ago at a cheesesteak spot in Philly, that is horrible, that she loves."
After '106 & Park,' it was time to hit the club, so they headed over to Velour lounge, a swank spot in Chelsea, where they took a bunch of pictures with friends and fans and generally relaxed, albeit in an environment where every fifth person wanted to quote their own lyrics to them.
"A lotta people supported the album, telling us their favorite tracks and favorite verses, and they seem to be really touched by this album," Malice said, sounding a little bit awed. "I can see the passion, when they talk about it, that it really meant something to them. They got favorite lines and favorite songs and all of that. It's dope."
Malice plays it subdued, while Pusha is the younger, more animated of the two. When asked whether they enjoy the NY club scene, their fraternal dynamic came out clearly.
"Yeah, I party," Pusha affirmed.
"I chill," demured Malice. "I like it, I enjoy it."
"It's alright. I prefer the Southern club scene." Pusha added.
"Oh yeah, definitely that."
"They party," said Pusha with a grin. "They really party down there, to me. Really hard. Just like, it's a fun environment, it's not like a wild bunch of profiling. This is profile central," he concluded. Finally, they headed over to a party that DJ Clue threw at Club HK which was "pleasantly packed."
"Clue um, he brings out a certain level of woman, for some reason," Pusha explained. "He's been doing that for a long time, that's always good...A nice woman. Nice and easy. Pleasantly easy. Pleasant woman, no fuss no muss."
As the night drew to a close, Pusha and Malice headed back to their hotel, hoping to grab some sleep before their 5AM alarm, and subsequent flight to the next stop on their promotional run. Ultimately, they wouldn't have it any other way besides shopping and fish tacos. "I would just eat like the things that I want to eat," Pusha said. "I'd go get fish tacos from Café Habana. I would shop, and I would still party. That's about it."
"I'm just glad to be working," Malice said, humbly. "Cause as far as our stint in this industry ... it can get kinda quiet and you hear crickets. I'm glad that we're definitely working and on the move and on the go, I think we've had enough downtime, or whatever. It's daunting, but it's good at the same time."
"That mothaf---a said 'daunting!'" cackled Pusha, on their way out the door.