When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: Clipse Edition


Malice, of the Clipse, started a blog last week, kicking things off with an entertaining video in which he sent up his own lifestyle: the camera’s opening shot, of Pyrex and baking soda, turns out to be the beginnings of a delicious waffle batter; later, the rapper runs through some of his tougher aliases–“You can call me Malice, Malicious, Paddycake Man”–before adding, “Some people even think I’m Akon.” The fact that this video was patently, obviously satirical did not stop publications like XXL from running with what they took to be a confession:

    In what can arguably be considered a hip-hop public service announcement, Malice – one half of the Virgina rap duo Clipse – put out a short video on his newly launched blog to address his real life versus the drug-dealing life he rhymes about.

    As previously reported Anthony “Geezy” Gonzalez, an associate of the Clipse, was recently indicted for running a $10 million drug ring in Virgina Beach.

    Without specifically mentioning the situation, Malice released a Vlog speaking about how his rap verses are more fantasy than reality. “There’s a lot of foolishness in hip-hop as my grandmother would say,” he said. “And I just want to say that I am and have been a part of the problem, the thing about it is I need foolishness in my hip-hop, I need foolishness in my movies. I happen to like that. To me a movie is not good unless you got some bricks being moved or a few people get killed.”

    “I guess basically what I’m saying is when I get in that booth and I start recording I can drive as many Bentleys as I want,” he continued. “I can hop on as many G5’s or drop as many tops as I want.” Later contrasting that image with his real car, an SUV that he notes, doesn’t even have “rims.”

Keep in mind the way that this video ends is with Malice saying “But you got to learn to separate the real from the fake,” then hoisting a bag full of golf clubs onto his shoulder and walking off onto a nearby course in a pair of jean shorts. At the end of their piece, XXL do get around to copping to the fact that “A rep for the group told that the video was shot prior to Tuesday’s (April 28) report revealing the drug scandal,” meaning their whole Malice “trying to put distance between his life on wax and his real persona” theory was actually mostly debunked before they even advanced it, but no matter. That latter quote comes from an article posted today, entitled “Rap Pinocchios: Is The Era Of Keeping It Real Finally Over?” The Malice graf:

    And what’s most interesting – and actually what inspired me to post this blog – is the situation with Clipse. After it was reported that an associate of theirs was indicted on charges of running a $10 million drug ring, Clipse rapper Malice – who built a career on rapping about coke – put a video on the net trying to put distance between his life on wax and his real persona. It was obviously an act of damage control, a ploy to keep his name out of the case, but that didn’t stop him from telling fans he wasn’t being truthful in his songs.

    “I guess basically what I’m saying is when I get in that booth and I start recording I can drive as many Bentleys as I want,” he said. “I can hop on as many G5’s or drop as many tops as I want.”

Here seems like as good a time as any to note that the second video in Malice’s so-called hip-hop public service announcement series was a bizarre robbery murder fantasy in which the rapper made a last second cameo as a homeless person. So, uh, what?

The XXL piece goes on to equate the Clipse being associated with a multi-milllion drug ring to Rick Ross’ eventual confession that he once worked as a corrections officer, two disclosures which do not, to put it mildly, seem like at all the same thing. Oh, and Jim Jones lied about talking to Cam’ron on the phone, and no one even punished him: “While this blew up in his face – Cam says the lie was the proverbial “last straw” that ruined the chances of a full-fledged Dipset reunion – the public didn’t go up in arms. The Capo may be far from selling as many copies of his album as Ross, but they’re still playing “Dancing on Me” on Hot 97 every 10 minutes.” OK.

I’d be the first to admit that Rick Ross is a fascinating figure because he toys so brilliantly with the rich uncertain territory between fantasy and reality. The Voice even ran a whole cover story on the subject. And what might be my favorite three grafs of criticism this entire year so far come from Jon Caramanica’s Rick Ross piece in the Times:

    It’s hard to say when, exactly, 50 Cent crossed the line in his feud with the Miami rapper Rick Ross. The more apt question might be: How many lines are there? He tracked down the mother of a Ross associate, DJ Khaled, at work, filming her sleeping on the job. He taped himself taking the mother of one of Mr. Ross’s children to buy a fur coat. He acquired and posted to the Internet a pornographic video starring another of Mr. Ross’s ex-girlfriends.

    Rick Ross must have seemed an especially easy mark — it had already been a tough few months for his fourth wall. Before he was Rick Ross, the drug boss M.C., he had been William Leonard Roberts, and last summer a photograph surfaced of him from the mid-1990s, graduating from a corrections officer academy. He denied its authenticity — until The Smoking Gun got hold of his Florida Corrections Department personnel file, which included a certificate for perfect attendance.

    The facts of Mr. Roberts’s life were getting in the way of Mr. Ross’s career.

Saying that the beginning of this year constituted “a tough few months” for Rick Ross’ “fourth wall” seems like a way more elegant method of both asking and answering XXL‘s question: “For a musical genre completely obsessed with keeping it real does any one else find the state of hip-hop completely twisted nowadays?” Malice, Ross, et al are so far beyond the real/false dichotomy it’s not even really a question. Rappers say whatever they want because they can and as any decent fiction writer knows, and as Malice himself basically says in that video, sometimes it’s just more fun to make shit up.