A Brief Word About Clipse


The dude Andrew Matson over at the Times has really outdone himself. Check out his interview with Pusha-T (one half of the rap group, Clipse). It’s long, sprawling, and utterly revealing — a well-sketched portrait of an interview of Mr. Terence Thornton.

Clipse are one of my favorite hip-hop groups. To me, a Clipse album release is always a major event. There’s something very particular within their brand of drug-rap that’s deeper and more complex than others.

Sure, the subject matter is no different than a lot of other so-called “Coke Rap”, but there is something else that sets Clipse apart, besides that they’re naturally more gifted emcees than most others. I think they succeed in injecting a certain pathos in their lyrics. Much like how great comedians pull from painful events in their pasts, Pusha-T and Malice extract a more complex drug-game ethos than other rappers with similar biographies.

When I listen to their music, I’m actually frightened. Not of the rappers themselves, but of what it means to the communities and people like the Thornton brothers who were (are?) blighted by the seeming necessity of drug dealing. Maybe its because we don’t typically see the brothers in photos at parties, hanging with Kanye or Pharrell on their yachts, that an extra dimension of realness is added. (Pusha-T actually touches on this very subject. He says they’ve never really participated in the glamour life that comes with being rap stars.) Or maybe it’s because they’re just so damn good at representing their true selves and histories on records.

I think most casual fans of hip-hop don’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to “Coke Rap”. There’s typically some dangerous glamorization of the drug-dealing lifestyle that’s done by a lot of rappers, either purposely or not. In reality, it’s not hard, even for someone never involved in the game, to say the lifestyle is really some truly ugly sh*t. Clipse do hip-hop fans all a favor by keeping it ugly, which is how it should be. Their greatness as artists is defined by the fact they never do it at the expense of making great music.

Views From the Peanut Gallery

REVIEW: Songs for Bloggers (GMK)

gmk songs for bloggersApparently rapper GMK wrote this album just for people like me (or maybe you, Dear Reader) who happen to spend a large amount of time surfing through cyberspace on their blog/twitter/facebook/myspace hustles. Songs for Bloggers is a quirky, concept album that spends most of its short 30 minutes bleeping and blipping through the realms of GMK’s “brilliant reality” which, according to the album, seems to be that alternate reality we humans spend so much time existing in these days: the World Wide Web.

Bump-this-sh*t-in-your-ride music, this is not. GMK has made an offbeat hip-hop album that veers into electronic and synth-pop territory. It’s interesting to listen to, if not a tad inaccessible at times for this hip-hop fan’s tastes. The beats are a little Kanye-ish (when he’s on his electro-synth vibe) combined with a tad of Pharrell (when he’s paying proper attention to the mixing boards and not checking his over-sized ego). In fact, the sound generally reminded me of Pharrell’s In My Mind, but with way more competent emceeing.

GMK sounds a little like Lupe Fiasco without the swag that grows naturally from mic/life experience. The cat’s still early in the game though so there’s lots of time for development. Rhyme topics are as follows: video games, cartoons, surfing the internet, and, of course, blogging. The album is broken down into six total tracks, but four of those contain multiple mini-songs/concepts spliced together. The framework of those four tracks is interesting. I was kind of annoyed at first with the structure, but ultimately came to appreciate it. The bits of music mimic the very nature of surfing the internet, with the constant clicking and refreshing. Props to GMK for capturing that vibe in the album’s format.

My favorite/least-favorite track is one of those conceptual bits called “Japanese Whislte” (as it’s spelled on the iTunes track listing — I presume it should be “Whistle”). On this song, GMK raps about an online romance with a shorty from Japan. It’s funny because of how ignorant it is. He wants her to make him sushi, compliments her on her Hello Kitty dolls, and asks if she will be his “geisha.” Familiar territory for freaky Asian fetishists certainly, but it’s mostly cute and relatively harmless musings on a song by a dude who maybe has never been to Japan. Here’s hoping GMK makes a trip someday.

Pick this album up on iTunes for only $5.94. It’s probably worth it if you want something different to charm your ears with for a while. Otherwise, sample his music on Myspace and decide if you’re ready to invest in a young rapper just starting to find his way through cyberspace.

More GMK:

Here’s an offbeat road-trip with an offbeat emcee. GMK and Sound Magazine take a trip to an animal farm somewhere on the peninsula. I’m not even kidding…

<object width=”400″ height=”270″><param name=”allowfullscreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><param name=”movie” value=”http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=5065031&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1&#8243; /><embed src=”http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=5065031&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1&#8243; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowfullscreen=”true” allowscriptaccess=”always” width=”400″ height=”270″></embed></object><p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/5065031″>GMK on the road with Sound Magazine</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user848282″>GMK</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Aaaarrggh! I’m so fed-up with embed codes that don’t work (White Whine, anyone?). Check the video here.

Album Reviews