Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Clipse - Lord Willin' (2002)

3.5 ★/7.0 - 7.9

The Neptunes have been beat geniuses since they jumped on the scene, but the next big step in staking a truly significant piece of the global producers pie, is always to get behind the board of an entire album from start to finish. Sure enough, in 2002, riding on the hype of songs by Jay-Z, Mystikal, Britney Spears and countless others, they contributed all of their talents to the debut of Clipse, even going as far as to make their own record label for its release. However, as a first chapter, it's a little disjointed. On Lord Willin, The Neptunes signature style is still miles ahead of the copycats it once inspired, but when stretched across the course of a full album, the mainstream cliches it's mired in becomes a little too obvious, especially on overtly exhibitionist tracks like "Ego" or "Gangsta Lean". Of course, the Neptunes' missteps with those tracks might have been forgivable if rappers, Malice and Pusha T, didn't swagger their obnoxious gangsterisms so boisterously. Discordantly delivered choruses like "Don't let cha ego trick yo ass, cause this muthafuckin tech will get yo ass" completely eclipse Pharrell and Chad's consistent sense of high quality production, exposing their attachment to the genres' stereotypes and making the listening experience a little mundane.

Still, whenever the MC duo reigns in their "in-your-face" attitude, their incessant boasting and one-dimensional, gritty tales of drug dealing actually showcase some serious wit. What Malice and Pusha T seem to overlook is that their voices already sound menacing as hell without even trying. When they make any further effort to increase the rage, it's just sounds over the top. Thankfully, they don't resort to those extreme gestures too often, allowing The Neptunes to generate their usual gorgeous strut-offs ("Ma, I Don't Love Her"), easy going smoke-offs ("Virginia"), a lush urban anthem ("I'm Not You") and a bunch of tracks that are quite enjoyable, despite the lack of replay value. Plus, there's the unstoppable singles, featuring two of the greatest beats the Neptunes have ever put to tape. "When The Last Time" is a refreshing slice of limb-jerking, inner-city tension, although it definitely boasts a hook of some sort, even if the squawking synths would sound positively dissonant if isolated. But there's no easy way into "Grindin", a song that needs to be heard at max volume, cruising in a car with heavy bass sub-wafers and all the windows rolled down. The beat is a skeleton without any flesh; subterranean mouth pops kick in for the chorus, but otherwise it gets by with nothing but hand claps, finger snaps and shutting metallic doors. It's a song that was clearly made to consume, cause chaos and inspire rebellion. Pump the stereo and submit yourself to the insanity.

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