In 2002, no record shook the streets harder than "Grindin" by The Clipse. The combination of the pounding drum pattern and subtle xylophone made the beat one of the most requested instrumentals on the mixtape scene. The smooth delivery of the grimy lyrics by Malice and Pusha T meshed with the pounding beat. Backed by the Neptunes, The Clipse seemed to have their future’s set.
As one of strongest albums of that year, Lord Willin’ left many heads wanting more from the Brothers Thornton. Almost two years after the release of their impressive debut, Malice and Pusha T are rarely seen or heard. With their follow up, Hell Hath No Fury, in limbo and the Star Track camp getting more and more crowded, everyone wants to know what’s up with the boys.
Pusha T breaks it down for the fans on where they have been, the inevitable label woes, The Neptunes and their new mixtape with Clinton Sparks, We Got It For Cheap Vol 1. Pusha uncovers the dark ages, and Clinton checks in, to reflect on the Re-Up Gang. That's just what this feature lets the listeners do, re-up!
AllHipHop.com: Where have you guys been and what have ya’ll been up to for the last two years?
Pusha T: Well basically The Clipse got caught up in the label merger between Arista and Jive records. It was just one of those things that we were at a home at Arista. We were signed by LA Reid, he understood us and knew what was going on. He knew what it took to break these street records. He listened to our vision and basically followed it. It went from there to being acquired by Jive Records, [who are] people that really specialize in Pop music. It’s just one of those things where The Clipse have not gotten the attention that were suppose to get. In time it turned ugly.
AllHipHop.com: Define ugly.
Pusha T: Ugly is basically having a record that was supposed to come out, and having to schedule visits continuous times to play your record for the company, and it never materializes. After that happened several times, you begin to feel disrespected. A battle of the egos ensued and you know it turned horrible for the fans. At the end of the day, they haven’t heard any Clipse music.
AllHipHop.com: Did it ever get gully at the office?
Pusha T: Nah, never. It never got there.
AllHipHop.com: So are the Clipse still on Jive or are you free agents?
Pusha T: The Clipse are currently on Jive. Both parties are back now on a civil plane. We’re trying to work out the particulars right now to see if they are going keep the group or let the group go. It’s hard to know that you’re jumping into a boat that already has holes in the bottom of it. It’s hard to know that they have no real street team at Jive Records, and I make cocaine Rap. It’s hard to know that and say here take this record and do what you do.
AllHipHop.com: What do you think of Barry Weiss, as an executive?
Pusha T: I think he’s good at what he does, I mean he do what he do over there. I think his track record shows what he is good at and what he is not good at.
AllHipHop.com: How did this mixtape come about with the new crew?
Clinton: Well, The Clipse mixtape came about because me, Malice, and Pusha T we’re all cool. We had did a record way back. I was one of the first people on radio to support their record when they dropped 'Grindin'. Since they have been on a hiatus for a little while, Pusha T wanted to start up his own thing called the Re-Up Gang, he had reached out to me saying he really wanted to get this tape really out there and asked me to put it together for him.
AllHipHop.com: What can we expect from the Re-Up Mixtape? Is this a one time affair, or can we expect tapes from the crew in the future?
Pusha T: Mixtapes will be dropped up until the album comes out. You got to know that Clipse never did mixtapes, we never did that. This is our first time really getting into it. Basically we were all mixtape consumers, but like when I was getting mixtapes I was buying Clue, Doo-Wop tapes. I had BIG, Hov, Nas, Mobb Deep, like the whole upper echelon of Rap on one mixtape. These days I’m getting mixtapes with a whole bunch of records, but ain’t nobody really saying anything. There’s a whole lot of quantity, but I mean there’s no language on it. So we trying to bring it back to that. We trying to give you 15-20 joints of straight venom.
AllHipHop.com: Out of those twenty or so tracks on the tape, Malice is only on four joints. Any reason for that?
Pusha T: I mean it’s four of us in the Re-Up Gang, sometimes it if he wasn’t there at the moment we were keeping it moving. If he came in at the tail end, then he wouldn’t jump on that. Everybody was doing 16’s, 24’s or vice versa with hooks and everything so joints are running like four minutes long.
AllHipHop.com: Clinton, you are known for putting heavy emphasis into your intros. What did you cook up for this one?
Clinton Sparks: I kept it light because Pusha had his own vision on he wanted it to come across. He just wanted like my style of how I present music. As far as the format, he knew how he wanted to do it, so it wasn’t a typical Clinton Sparks elaborate intro.
AllHipHop.com: Did you do any production on here?
Clinton Sparks: Nah, I didn’t.
AllHipHop.com: With a Hip-Hop task-force in place and more recently The Inc Records getting pinched by the Feds, do you ever question all your snow references?
Pusha T: Never, I make street music. I think that’s something totally different from what I’m going through and I really feel for them dudes. I hope they make it through.
AllHipHop.com: Reflecting back on Lord Willin’, what do you think about your debut two years later?
Pusha T: Yo, I thought it was a hell of a first effort. I just looked at it as we were young and restless and we didn’t give a damn and we did what we felt like doing. We had so much fun doing that record. Looking at it now, a lot of the fun has been taken out of it due to the business side of it. But creatively, I look at that time as incredible
AllHipHop.com: What was your most favorite moment of making that record?
Pusha T: I think it was the creation of 'Hot Damn'. Me being a Rap fan for so many years, I always wanted to make my record and see the video 'Headbanger' by EPMD, or 'Live at the BBQ'. And those are the things we want to show to people. This is for the Hip-Hop purists, that’s what this whole Re-Up thing is about, this is what the new Clipse album is about. It’s about the purists. We don’t care if the hook is too long or whatever the case may be. We want to show the fans that color of the album.
AllHipHop.com: Few remember you guys were signed to Elektra in '97-98. Your single 'The Funeral' had some buzz. Can you reflect on that situation?
Pusha T: Elektra was a time where honestly we weren’t taking the music business that seriously. We didn’t know anything about the game at all. We were on Elektra, we shot the video and then we find out that from our management that the label was putting us on the back burner. They had Missy and Busta going on, and we were not even recognizing that we're not being paid attention to or whatever. I thank Sylvia Rhone to this day, she let [us] go. She was a G about it. She was like you’re right, we are really focusing on this. Go do what ya’ll. She hit us off with a bunch of money, like you know what I’m saying? It was a good time. So we were like cool, on to the next project.
AllHipHop.com: Will that album Exclusive Audio Footage ever see the light of day?
Pusha T: I think that album is on the internet, all them songs are on the net. The content on that album is just as crazy as it was in 2002. It was even a bit darker, because times were a bit darker back then.
AllHipHop.com: What’s your relationship with Pharrell these days or the Neptunes in general?
Pusha T: The relationship is all good. Me, Pharrell and Shay stay together. Chad is still right there. We are just weathering the storm, that’s all.
AllHipHop.com: I need you to keep it hood with this next question: It has long been speculated that Pusha T is the man behind all the fire Pharrell has been spitting lately such as the 'Drop It Like It’s Hot' remix, do you ghostwrite his material?
Pusha T: [Laughs] I'ma keep it all the way hood for AllHipHop.com, ya’ll have to understand Pharell is a rapper first. He was a rapper first, he was a native tongue rapper dude first. That’s why the interior like fish eggs line comes out. He does a lot of wordplay trickery. That’s not me writing none of that, that’s all him. [Laughs] And I’m putting pressure on him right now on AllHipHop.com that he is the best rapper/producer. Ain’t nobody touching him, I’ll put money on it.
AllHipHop.com: Better than Kanye?
Pusha T: Yo B, I’m Star Track for life. I got love for Kanye, that’s my man, but no producer is seeing Skateboard P. [Laughs]
AllHipHop.com: Since you and the Neptunes had a personal relationship for sometime, how does the business side of your relationship work out? Does it ever get funky?
Pusha T: Nah. I’ma tell you the truth. They’re pushovers. There have been times where things could get a little sketchy. But, all I [have to] do is, I go to them and tell them the situation. Pharell and Chad are about the love of the music. You got to understand that those guys are rich, they are caked out. It’s about making us happy and making their brand bigger. And if that means they have to ease back on something, so we can be happy, it will happen because they are at where they at. Those guys are straight fair with it. They are really about the love of the music.
AllHipHop.com: Does that mean that you guys get a friendlier rate with the beats?
Pusha T: Yeah man, come on man, I get the low-low. [laughs] The rates on my beats, y’all artists need to come to me!
AllHipHop.com: What are your thoughts on the additions of Slim Thug and Snoop Dogg to the label roster?
Pusha T: I’m actually the one that turned Pharell and Rob [Manager] onto Slim Thug. It was nothing but a mixtape. He did a record called 'Cocaine Bought Me Everything' over a Trillville beat. Basically I was in my room and Pharrell and Rob were home, basically it was just like, 'Listen to this dude'. I was telling them what I did know about him, and I told him I liked his record and I wanted to work with him and that I think he’s hot. So after that I think they went to Houston and got with him on a humbug. Slim is a hot artist, he’s definitely a boss. He’s one of the hottest artists to come out of the South. Snoop also, he’s a vet. As you can see Snoop got it. He got a hot record and a hot album. I think it’s all good. I think that makes the Star Trak brand look really huge.