Rap duo Clipse are two songs away from finishing their second album, scheduled to come out in early 2004. Like their debut, 2002's Lord Willin', the new set features production from the Neptunes.
"The first album was just straight cocaine on every song," says Malice, whose brother Pusha T completes the pair. "Now, we've got a lot more to talk about -- gettin' money, haters, chicks and the streets."
While that's hardly uncharted hip-hop territory, the Neptunes' production makes Clipse's lyrical bent easy to swallow. Highlights of the new record include "Nightmares," which features R. Kelly not only singing the hook but spitting out an eight-bar rhyme. "It's reminiscent of the Geto Boys' 'Mind Playing Tricks on Me,'" says Malice. And "Pussy" wraps an insidious synth line around a stark beat. "'Pussy' is straight for the streets," Malice says. "That's our freebie to the world."
Clipse, Virginians by way of the Bronx, were one of the first groups to work with the Neptunes, Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo, who are also Virginia natives. "This is what we did before the contracts, before the deals," Malice says. "This is just what we do. Pharell and Chad come in with the track and we just build from there."
Malice and Pusha T weren't intimated by the task of following up one of last year's most buzzed-about records. "I had a lot more fuel this time," Malice says. "Everybody is waiting to see what the second album is going to do, if the first one a fluke. I had a lot of ammunition and a lot of drive.
"On the first album," he explains, "the flows were more like mix-tape flows. 'You jump in, you do sixteen, I'm gonna jump in and do sixteen.' It was freestyles, basically. On this album I think we're more at one with the beat. It sounds more like a song. We're more comfortable, with a little more confidence. We're really feeling ourselves."
And Clipse aren't worried that they'll be overshadowed by the Neptunes, probably the hottest producers in music over the last two years. "We don't hide behind their tracks," Malice says. "I like to think that we live up to them."