The Clipse

Strip any given Clipse song of references to drugs, exotic cars, lavish locales, and, of course, money—what’s left? Still enough lyric-driven hip-hop for you to wrap your head around for days. Perhaps that’s why Virginia-bred brothers Gene and Terrence Thornton (Malice and Pusha-T respectively) have built one of the most diverse and hard-to-classify followings in the game. Walk through the venue doors of a local performance, and you’ll find a mixed crowd of straight thugs, hipster-hop kids in red skinnies, and frat boys still poppin’ collars. It’s an allegiance of creeds and colors that earned Clipse’s third full-length album, Till the Casket Drops, a spot as one of the most anticipated rap records of 2009. “We like to call it ‘hip-hop on steroids,’” exclaims Malice, the older of the brothers. “It’s just like everything to the third power with these lyrics and beats.”
Casket is a big leap for the duo, as it’s their first album not 100 percent produced by the Neptunes. Though the group continues to work with Pharrell, who still brings his talent behind the boards and mic, this time the Clipse also enlisted help from producers Sean C and LV (credited for the success of Jay Z’s American Gangster) and DJ Khalil, not to mention an all-star list of guest appearances including the likes of Kanye West, Drake, and Keri Hilson. “Our fans are counting on us,” says Malice. “We always stay honest to ourselves and our music, and our stories are real.”
The brothers also expect something deeper in tattoos, both theirs and others’. “I hate when a girl gets something like a butterfly, then tells you she did it ’cause it was cute,” remarks Pusha. “I’m just like, ‘Get the fuck outta here with that shit.’” The simple words “I’m sorry” on his arm, under a baby angel by Mister Cartoon, form his heartfelt apology to the loved ones in his life he’s wronged. As for the cherub, he jokes, “It’s a baby angel—who can be mad at that?” Malice, a bit more covered in predominantly biblical work, mainly by Dave Lukeson of Fuzion Ink in Norfolk, VA, expresses his own form of honest regret. “If I could go back, I probably would leave my body untouched. But since I’m in this deep, what’s the point in stopping now, right?”

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