With its drums of vehemence and old-school claps, there is no "bling" in the Neptunes' sound on their latest beat offering, the Clipse's "Grindin.' "
"We just wanted to strip it down," Chad Hugo said last month of the beat he and his Neptunes partner Pharrell Williams created. "Just a break[beat] and a rapper. That's how hip-hop was born. We just wanted to bring that element back to the music scene."
Signed to the Tunes' new label venture with Arista, Star Trak Entertainment, the Clipse, composed of brothers Malice and Pusha T, have been grinding on the music scene for a while, trying to get some shine.
"Their first single was called 'Dealin',' and that came out four or five years ago," said Shay, who is the third member of N.E.R.D. "Then they came out with 'The Funeral' [in 1999]. They just been lingering around. The new album is gutter, what the streets have been looking for."
Lyrical pavement pounders Jadakiss and Styles from the LOX team up with the brothers to tell why they're not the average rappers on "I'm Not You," and Jermaine Dupri flosses with the Clipse on "Let's Talk About."
The Clipse were born in the Bronx, New York, and moved to Virginia almost 20 years ago. As teenagers, they hooked up with the Neptunes before they blew up, and all four have been working together ever since. Malice and Pusha's debut LP, Lord Willin', is due out later this spring.
Meanwhile, the Neptunes also hope to release another album by Kelis this year. She has left Virgin Records and is signed to her beat-making buddies' label. Her second LP, Wanderland, was released overseas last year, but Pharrell Williams said it's going through some major alterations before it comes out in the States.
"It's five to seven new songs we're gonna do," Williams said of the project last month. "The tracks are hot. We are focused on our music and what we want to do."