As a freshman novelist, Richard Yates, once noted, “Our ability to measure and apportion time affords an almost endless source of comfort.” So now, when Virginia’s Clipse talk about having so many diamonds on their wrists their Rolex watches don’t tick, you might figure it’s about more than money. Hell Hath No Fury, their sophomore effort, has finally emerged from a three-year label purgatory, and brothers Pusha and Malice are seizing their second chance: “All I wanna do is ride around shining/While I can afford it,” they say, knowing it won’t last. They’re stuck in the moment ’cause they’ve learned how rarely it comes.
Be they dealers who make formally elegant limerick odes to those who “Stay cookin’/Stay lookin’/Over they shoulders/Holdin’ them boulders/Tryin’ to avoid central bookin’ ” or hustlers peddling bitterly clever nods to their drug of choice (“The news called it crack/I called it Diet Coke”), Clipse tell parables both irredeemable and empathic. Even their get-money, go-shopping “Dirty Money” is more concerned with ill-gotten gains than what those gains might get. So they apologize even as they shine: “Momma I’m so sorry/I’m so obnoxious/My only accomplice my conscience.”
Make no mistake: Hell Hath No Fury is a major event. With the rehabbed Neptunes on board throwing up bleak but gleaming exteriors for Pusha and Malice to murder, Clipse run circles around major rap fourth-quarter competition (e.g., Snoop, Nas, and Jay-Z). The pitch-black bounce of “Trill” (the record’s ostensible club anthem) or the desiccated piano echoes that warble through “Ride Around Shining” conjure a landscape every bit as evil and haunted as the duo’s ostensible past. They know guilt—”I, like you, had to come from up under the basement/Just like you, had Satan trying my patience”—and know they’re not alone.