Clipse, Til The Casket Drops
Clipse undercut braggadocio with bitterness on their gaudiest album to date
When it was released, Till the Casket Drops was received with mixed reactions from hip-hop faithful: What were these remorseless coke-rap specialists doing releasing a club album filled with relaxed materialism? But cut through its rave-rap production and its brand-name shopping lists, and Casket turns out to be less cut-and-dry. In fact, most of its intrigue comes from Clipse's self-conscious restlessness, a need to duck the old kilo-moving kingpin typecasting while still staying recognizably themselves. Opener "Freedom" states it as clear as any, both with its production — epic-scale arena guitar rock concocted by Hitmen alumnus Sean C & LV — and its defiant, critic-baiting statement of frustrated introspection.
That theme carries on throughout the album, the pull between a clear conscience and a comfortable lifestyle, giving Pusha T and Malice's punchlines a more personal humanity than the casual menace that fueled their previous work. And while they show no shortage of lyrical cockiness — "Popular Demand (Popeye's)" and "Kinda Like a Big Deal," featuring on-fire Cam'ron and Kanye respectively — or cash-flashing swagger ("I'm Good"; "Eyes on Me"), the moments where they let their jaded-survivor sides show puts a compelling, bitter cast on what could've otherwise been their gaudiest album.