Will the Clipse ever reunite?
Pusha T and No Malice entered the game in '02 with Lord Willin', serving "coke rap" over Neptunes-produced bangers. But we haven't gotten a dose of the Clipse since 2009's Til The Casket Drops. Naturally, the reunion question lingers. No Mal thinks about that, too.
"You’re probably the first person, publicly, that I’ve said this to," he told MTV News. "But I believe that my brother and I together can make clown soup of all of these rappers. That’s what I believe in my heart, but how can two walk together unless they agree?"
And there lies the issue that keeps the Clipse from reuniting. There isn't a beef here, really. No Mal celebrates Pusha's successes and the two collaborated on 2013's "Shame The Devil," but a full Clipse LP still seems out of reach. Still, No Mal remains hopeful.
"There are different paths for different people and I believe circumstances may keep him where he’s at," No Mal explained. "My circumstances keep me where I am. But do I have hope? I totally have hope. I’m not chasing it or forcing it, but I stand by what I just said, man. I know what we could do."
Those differences might be enough to keep them from reuniting as MCs, but the brothers are still close, according to No Mal.
"That’s what I love about my brother and our relationship," he said. "Those morals that my dad instilled in us...We don’t put opinions on each other. We don’t say, ‘Well, you should be doing this.’ We’re like, ‘Whatever you do, homie, we respect each other as men.’"
That same bond allowed the twosome to craft four albums together and during our talk, the elder Thornton brother broke down his thought process behind each one -- from the group's shelved debut to possibly their final project ever.
Exclusive Audio Footage
Most fans believe the Clipse’s musical journey started with Lord Willin’, but the duo (and the Neptunes) actually crafted Exclusive Audio Footage in the late ‘90s and it was shelved.
"I think you could drop Exclusive Audio Footage right now," No Malice said. "To me, the lyricism on that is just unrivaled. I love that album. Listening to it now, I’m like, ‘Woah. We were really putting those words together.' It was nice."
The fact that it gets overlooked sometimes doesn't actually bother No Mal. Instead, he views it as a special jewel that true fans can discover through a little digging.
"I like when you do a little research and you find these hidden gems," he explained. "It’s for that hip-hop connoisseur, I believe. I love how everything happened because everything happens for a reason. If you happen to stumble upon Exclusive Audio Footage, then you’re in for a treat."
Despite their Exclusive Audio Footage troubles, Clipse re-upped on Lord Willin'. This time, No Malice recalls feeling a fire.
"It’s finally happening," he said. "I get to share these rap skills with the entire world. There was a hunger. It was fervent. It was bubbling, just ready. We were just cooking, cooking and cooking. And then you got the eruption when the album was finally released. It was that fire, that rebelliousness, that energy and...lyrically dope. It was definitely a memorable moment in my life."
Their hit single "Grindin'" made them rap stars, but it wasn't an overnight accomplishment.
"It took a while for the record to catch on, but it didn’t take no time for the hood dudes, the street dudes and the underground," he explained. "Once we shot the video, people were understanding the visuals and it was like, ‘Yo, this is it. Those brothers got something.’"
Hell Hath No Fury
Once the duo got their feet in the game, things didn't get easier. Life's stresses, the industry and relationship woes tackled No Malice and he was pissed. That's where Hell Hath No Fury came from.
"I remember being very angry," he explained. "I remember channeling a lot of that anger into that album. I remember feeling like the gloves are off and saying whatever I felt. Sometimes, you curve your thoughts and think very carefully about what’s said before you say it. With Hell Hath No Fury, we were in a space where we had nothing to lose."
Songs like "Nightmares" and "Keys Open Doors" came from those sessions, but these days, No Malice sees more than just the rage. "I’m like, ‘Wow. Those verses were something,'" he explained. "You don’t even hear those kind of verses today and rap has evolved. I see how powerful they were, just as I knew. Lyrically, Clipse is definitely amongst the best to ever do it."
Till The Casket Drops
The group's final album was particularly important for No Malice because he needed to vent.
"I look at this as my album," he said. "That’s what I wanted to do for me, to get these things off my chest and make my exit."
That's apparent on songs like "Life Change," where No Mal raps about being at the end of his rope, feeling like "something's gotta change."
"For me, this was just what I was feeling. I didn’t think about the fans. I didn’t think about the listener. It was just how I was feeling," he continued. "People tell me all the time that they can hear a transition on that album. And they really tell me that they heard that transition throughout my entire career of something taking place, but it just finally came to a head on this album.
"That may have been the most profound or the most identifiable part of the transition. The entire discography is freckled with those kinds of emotions and sentiments throughout, but on Till The Casket Drops, it was me bearing a part of myself that I usually kept to myself."