Interview with Malice
How does 'Til The Casket Drops rate against Lord Willin’ and Hell Hath No Fury?
I think it’s the best album that The Clipse have ever done. When we came out with Lord Willin’, we gave you pretty much a rollercoaster ride. Everything was fresh and new. We had a lot of good energy and we were just excited and in the high of things. Then with the label delays and that, we came out with Hell Hath No Fury and even though we got critical acclaim, people could tell that was a really dark album. This album is more in the line of how we were feeling with Lord Willin’ – a lot of energy and we had a lot of fun with these verses. I think The Clipse has pretty much come full circle.
We had more fun with this album. I guess with the mixtapes, that’s where we have our most fun because we really try and outdo each other and really just go hard and don’t worry about songs or song formats or radio records. The sky’s the limit. With this album, though, it’s just like a clean slate, a breath of fresh air with no delays or setbacks or all the hang-ups that we had endured in the past.
Pusha T started out “Freedom” talking about how music confined him. Do you feel the same way as your brother?
Well, I think with every record, we can honestly say that it was an actual depiction of exactly where we are in our lives. What you get is a play by play of things that really are going on with us and we just draw from those events and put it into a record. As far as being confined, I think the records are just so true to life. If I feel confined at all, it would be to what’s going on in my life and then I just put it in the record, man. That’s all I have to talk about. I’m not really creative like that where I can really make up things. It is what it is and it’s what I have to pull from.
You’d be very bored of me very quick if I was trying to (laughs) make up things or if I was trying to pull from my brain. What you get is The Clipse. What you get is, even from Lord Willin’, our chemistry and our content has pretty much been the same with where we are in our lives. This album is no different. It’s about redemption and cleaning up bad karma and saying sorry for the things we did if we were misleading or just led people the wrong way, especially the youth. I’m personally saying sorry.
Do you ever worry about your lyrics coming back to haunt you?
I know that I’m covered in blood in the end and God is definitely the author of everything and that’s where I put my faith at. I don’t worry about that at all, not in the least bit. I’m free to say what needs to be said.
On ‘Til the Casket Drops, you say that “real life is watching Madagascar with your kids.” That’s a side you don’t hear too often from you.
Definitely. Definitely. When I put out the first blog or whatever, I think that so many people were taken back, like I pulled the curtain back and surprised them. I didn’t know that. I thought you knew what rap was and behind the scenes. The blog defined the whole thing and I think you have to keep in mind that it’s still entertainment and The Clipse, we’re as real as they come as far as I’m concerned. I think they were surprised but it’s time to wake up, man. Quit fooling yourself.
What made you want to get Yo Gotti on “Showin’ Out”?
We just think that he was married to the song. You know, we’re stingy with our tracks. We don’t just let anybody on with us. We’re pretty much self-contained, but just being a fan and familiar with his work, he has a sound that’s different and we just thought that he would be the go-to guy for that.
You could work with a lot more artists. Why do you choose to be so self-contained?
Well, I think with this album, the intent was to work with more artists, like Cam’ron and Kanye and Yo Gotti. This is the first time that we actually reached out and said, ‘Hey, hop on this track.’ We’re just expanding and trying different things. We already proved our point as far as proving that we could stand on our own. Now we’re telling people that we’re fans of them and would like to do something with them.
Were you happy with as far as “Kind of Like a Big Deal” went?
I never think of the work like that. What it does is what it does. I don’t have any expectations. I don’t feel anything should have went through the roof. I love it and we love it and we love all of the work that we do and it’s just good to get it out there. Our fans that follow our work and enjoy our work, that’s who we do this for. We got a “cult” following and they ride with us and they know what it’s about and maybe the rest of the world will catch on later, but if not, it’s all good. We’re our own community here.
Did anything change working with Pharrell this time around?
Nah. He just came in and did his thing. He really showed off. It was good to be in the studio with The Neptunes. It’s second nature to us. It’s home and there’s no pressure. It’s home and it’s family. We’re still tripping out in the studio and just sitting back and marveling at the work that we come up with.
How come Rick Rubin wasn’t on the album?
We met with Rick Rubin out in Malibu and he gave us a lot of sound advice as far as the album and he really enjoyed the material that we had so far. We did know that he had been a fan of The Clipse. It just never really came to pass. There was no logic behind it. I guess as we just kept building and as the music was coming along, we felt we had it. Of course we would love a track from Rick Rubin, but it didn’t happen and there’s no rhyme or reason. But he’s definitely with us and he feels what we do.
Was Drake supposed to be on this album?
There was talks of Drake being on the album but it was just talks. It never happened. And we don’t sit around and wait all day either, man. We gotta do what we gotta do and people got busy schedules. We’re just glad to come out with what we come out with.
Where should ‘Til the Casket Drop stand as far as best albums of ’09?
Number one, best album of the year, I think. Definitely lyrically, sound, you know, that’s what we do. The production is insane from Sean C and LV to DJ Khalil and of course The Neptunes. I’m always going to ride with hip-hop. I think when the game gets a little too crowded, we come through in the clutch and we hit all the time. People tell us we’re what the game needs. We tend to agree with that.
Who would your number two album be then?
I like Rick Ross’ album. I think his album, you can just sit there and listen to that. He definitely puts out great, great music. Fabolous also. Raekwon. I don’t know what order, but those are the guys we like.
Did you link up with artist KAWS for the album cover through Pharrell?
Yeah, we did. Actually, yeah, we did. KAWS is a big fan of The Clipse and just talking about fashion and everything and the community and everybody just being affiliated and finding out who’s been following us and enjoying what we do. KAWS is a big fan of The Clipse and it was an honor to work with him.
Did you tell him what you wanted or did you just let him go?
He did his thing and that’s what he does. We just let him do his thing and we love it. We love it right now. We’re a fan of his work. You don’t sit over KAWS and dictate his work. You just let him rock.
The phrase “DMV” has become much more popular in the last couple of years. Should Virginia be lumped in with D.C. and Maryland?
I think that we should merge. We’re definitely neighbors. I think we should all pool together and make Virginia a bigger hip-hop scene, just the same as L.A. has done, Atlanta and, you know, New York and you got the DMV, definitely. I think D.C. is more like go-go and the whole Baltimore music thing, it’s a little different from Virginia but I love being linked and affiliated and I think we need to make a big scene and support each other and the DJs in this area need to rock with local artists and support.
A lot of rappers catch heat for repeatedly referencing drug selling and that hasn’t happened with you guys in the mainstream media. Why do you think that is?
Authenticity! Authenticity! That’s what it is. And not only that, it’s thinking man’s hip-hop. It’s not just coke, coke, coke, coke. It’s the details. We don’t just leave you at a dead end. We don’t paint a glorious picture. We tell you the good and the bad and the ugly and the ins and the outs and if you follow us, you know it’s not manufactured.
Oftentimes artists say critics don’t understand them. It must be nice being on the other side of that.
Yeah. We have never been one of those groups in the past who just came out and mainstream just accepted us. But we’re from Virginia and to be on the scene and be in the entertainment industry and be able to shoot videos, that’s a big deal from the parts where we’re from. It’s like we’ve done it. We don’t expect much. We do quality work and when we go to sleep at night, we love our music and we tickle ourselves pink to the music over the music that we put out so whatever the market makes is what it is. People ask us if we feel we’re underrated or overlooked. I don’t feel that way at all. I feel great, man. I’m me. Whatever market we made, that’s the market we deserve. You can’t say you should have done this or could have done that. Obviously the ends justify the means. That’s what it is.
A lot of attention was paid to the back and forth between you and Lil’ Wayne. Did that just fizzle out between you two?
Yeah, and it never deserved any light and it never deserved any kind of attention. We was getting money with Cash Money with “What Happened to that Boy?” We were in New Orleans and we shot the video and we were hanging out and we were close at one time. It’s just unfortunate that it had happened. I think the streets were talking and I think Wayne probably felt like we were saying it but anybody that knows The Clipse or knows anything about us, you see our etiquette and how we roll. We don’t talk about anybody. The streets were talking about him wearing BAPES and it’s a dope clothing line but the streets said that and I think Wayne took it out on us and everything we said was just in response. But right now I think Wayne has hot music and I ain’t got no beef but you can’t talk about The Clipse though. Can’t nobody talk about The Clipse and just let that be that.
Have you guys spoken to Sandman since he left the Re-Up Gang?
Nah. Sandman wanted to venture out. This vehicle wasn’t moving fast enough for him so we let him out of his contract. We’re not into the keeping you here if you don’t want to be here and that says a lot about who we are. People don’t let people out of deals but we do. We’re not the bloodthirsty suckers that this game tends to just be consumed with. If you’re not happy here or you feel you can spread your wings and go elsewhere, what am I going do to? Keep you here? No! We don’t do that. I don’t care. You just don’t do that and as far as that goes, we know what it feels like to be tied down and not being able to get out and you feel like you have a better shot over here. That’s what we come from. That’s been the story of our lives in this game so peace and good luck to Sandman. I don’t babysit nobody.
And we started with just the three of us, with Ab Liva. And we’re still The Re-Up Gang. That’s what my chain say.
Have you been working on the next Re-Up Gang project?
You know what, man? I think we’ve just been grinding it out with the clothing line and my book and this new album and everything is coming full circle and it’s about to drop. I’m really inspired these days so we’re about to start on the new album and do the mixtapes and evertytihng. I’m inspired. Lyrics-driven hip-hop at its finest. That’s what we deliver.
Are you happy with the response to your clothing line Play Clothes?
Yeah. Play Clothes is doing great. We’re very happy about that and we’re very happy about the support that we get from our fans, everybody from 50 Cent to Soulja Boy to Gucci Mane to Trey Songz to Lupe to Ed Lover. Everybody is really feeling the Play Clothes though. We get a lot of support, man.
Where did the inspiration for the clothing line come from?
It’s just throwback pieces, nostalgic pieces, like when you were in school and you had to change your clothes before you went outside to play, from the polos to the lumberjacks. We’re just bringing it back to that time and era to make it current.
What do you enjoy more at this point in your career, working on clothes or music?
I think my blogs are where I have the most fun. As soon as I get a free minute I got these other ones that I’m going to put out. But I’m having a lot of fun with these blogs. I wrote a book also, titled Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked. That’s already done and we’re trying to get that out to you as well. I’ve also been doing a lot of editing and shooting videos with Elusive Media. We’re ready to shoot a movie.
How did writing the book differ from writing rhymes?
It ain’t no different. It’s me talking about the things I’ve been through and the things I’ve seen. It’s a phenomenal book. It’s life changing. It’ll give insight to anyone who inspires to be in this profession. If you lose focus and set your sights on materialistic things, you’re lost. There ain’t no other way to say it.