The most essential songs by Pusha T's early rap group.
Pusha T's new album, 'My Name Is My Name,' is due out sometime this year on Def Jam and Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label. It was supposed to come out a couple of months ago. In fact, the date's been pushed back several times, which has become the norm for mainstream rap albums.
So far, Pusha has leaked a few of the new songs, including two Kanye-produced tracks: 'Pain' (featuring Future), and 'Who I Am' (featuring 2 Chainz and Big Sean). He has also said there will be production by Hudson Mohawke, Pharrell, the-Dream, and Swizz Beatz, as well as guest appearances by rappers Kendrick Lamar, Young Jeezy and Rick Ross. But anything could happen between now and whenever 'My Name Is My Name' sees the light of day.
Pusha T and Malice formed Clipse in '92. They linked up with the Neptunes, and the innovative production duo helped the rapping brothers develop a winning package: slick, heady, singular beats and gritty, hungry, clever lyrics.
We continue to wait with anticipation because of the work Pusha T has accomplished so far in his brief career, which includes two mixtapes and the 'Fear Of God II: Let Us Pray' album. Pusha T has been featured on a couple of popular singles, most notably Kanye West's 'So Appalled.' And he was a central voice on 'Cruel Summer,' the G.O.O.D. Music compilation that included his song 'Mercy' with Kanye, Big Sean and 2 Chainz.
But it was Clipse -- the rap duo that Pusha T started with his brother Malice (now, No Malice) -- that helped him build the credibility he has today.
Pusha sounded confident, but paranoid, and this anxious vibe lingered across a song that boasted one of Clipse's best hooks: "All I wanna do is ride around shining while I can afford it, plenty ice on my neck so I don't get nauseous."
Following a brief stint making music as Jarvis, Pusha T and Malice formed Clipse in '92. They linked up with their Virginia Beach neighbors the Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), and the innovative production duo helped the rapping brothers develop a winning package: slick, heady, singular beats and gritty, hungry, clever lyrics.
Of the four studio albums Clipse released, the middle two – 'Lord Willin'' (2002) and 'Hell Hath No Fury' (2006), both released on the Neptunes' Star Trak imprint – were the best. These albums claim some of the Neptunes' best production work, and some of the finest tag-team rapping of the last decade.
In anticipation of Pusha T's 'My Name Is My Name' album, we went back to listen to Clipse's discography. These are the five best songs from the duo's studio albums. Disagree? Tell us why.
5. 'Ride Around Shining'
The production on this song from 'Hell Hath No Fury' was so ominous, so sinister, with the haunted house piano stretched out to sublime infinity. Pusha sounded confident, but paranoid, and this anxious vibe lingered across a song that boasted one of Clipse's best hooks: "All I wanna do is ride around shining while I can afford it, plenty ice on my neck so I don't get nauseous." (There was also a guest spot by the Philadelphia rapper Ab-Liva, one of Clipse's Re-Up Gang affiliates.
4. 'Wamp Wamp (What It Do)'
The Neptunes' paint-bucket percussion and steal drum pings gave Pusha and Malice (and guest Slim Thug) a gorgeous, hypnotic texture to flow upon. Pusha took advantage, and delivered some memorable, slippery lines: "No hotta, flow droppa, since Poppa;" "So proper, hammer time, gun cocka/Top shotta, me hesitate none, pop ya." Mean, but fun.
3. 'When The Last Time'
Those breathy sax notes sounded so familiar! But before you could place the origin, Pusha disrupted the smoothness: "Top down, chrome spinning." And the Neptunes shattered that traditional loop with one of their jigsaw melodies and a diving stab of sci-fi glitch. One of the singles form 'Lord Willin',' this was one of Clipse's best party songs, showing Malice and Pusha on the prowl, goofing off. (Top down, chrome spinning.) By the end, Pusha got lucky: "What did it, the whip appeal, or my baby face?" It was probably both.
Above a classic Neptunes beat, Pharrell jumped in at the start of this second single from Clipse's first album to offer a dramatic endorsement. “I just wanna let you all know,” he said, pausing, “the world... is about to feel... something... that they never... felt before.” And then Pusha T slammed in to articulate just how much he grinds, and how successful he is at said grindin'. He even compared himself to basketball player Pee Wee Kirkland, who played at Norfolk State University, located 20 minutes away from Virginia Beach. “Legend in two games like I'm Pee Wee Kirkland,” Pusha bragged. Unpack the reference yourself.
1. 'Mr. Me Too'
Bragging is essential to rap. But on this first single from 'Hell Hath No Fury,' Clipse reduced everyone else to one-upping biters. Clipse did it, and then you tried to do it; but the only reason you tried, was because Clipse did it first. You, a copy; Clipse, the source. The Neptunes killed the beat: bass thumps knocked around a fuzzy, distant melodic pulse. Pusha, his thumbs all cut up from counting too much money, threw down a hilarious diss at the end of his first couplet: "You're dunce cappin' and kazooin'." He popped and zoomed the words perfectly, elegantly, unstoppably. When Pusha's on, he's on.