CD Review: Clipse, Til the Casket Drops (with video)

Musically, Casket hearkens back to Clipse's debut, Lord Willin', with its bright, breezy hooks. Even the regret-themed closing tracking "Life Change" rides a bouncy synth and features a silky vocal chorus. Sometimes, the effort falls flat: "Champion," the only real dud on the album, is somehow both overproduced and under-thought-out, with an awkward chanted hook that just flatlines. Much better are head-snappers like "Popular Demand (Popeyes)" (check out the video below), "Kinda Like a Big Deal" and "Counseling," Clipse's best club-ready track since "When the Last Time."

Casket may not be an end-to-end, game-changing burner like the duo's last official release, Hell Hath No Fury, but Casket proves that Clipse can maintain their intensity even when not rapping about slinging drugs. And for anyone who cares about the group's long-term career prospects, that revelation is very, very exciting.


One is tempted to quote the entire opening salvo on Virginia rap duo Clipse's new album — Til the Casket Drops, out this Tuesday on Columbia Records — to give you a sense of the themes MCs (and brothers) Pusha T and Malice are stressing this time around, but an excerpt will have to do: "Music's been nothing more than a self-made prison / I've taken inmate losses at the hands of this one / My pen's been the poison to family and friendship / Now it's time to mend shit / Time to bring closure to / The clear conscience of Pusha is long overdue." For a group that earned their rep delivering the most brutal and inventive lyrics about selling crack ever recorded, the new tone is startling. And while Clipse dismisses message-driven hip-hop ("I hate conscious rap"), throughout Casket they flesh out their nihilistic get-money braggadocio with heartfelt rhymes about imprisoned comrades and hanging with the kids.

They've also brightened up their sound.

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