Clipse’s Second Album Turns 10 Years Old & It’s Still A Major Key (Audio)
A little over four years after making their mainstream entry with 2002’s Lord Willin’
, Clipse returned with Hell Hath No Fury, continuing their particular brand of religious imagery mixed with uncut street hustle. Years before Young Jeezy’s “snowman” persona ruled the airwaves and while Rick Ross was just a couple of years removed from his career as a correctional officer, brothers Pusha T and Malice (now known as No Malice) had been shopping around their sound after their debut, Exclusive Audio Footage, was permanently shelved. However, with 2002’s “Grindin’,” the two young MCs from Virginia Beach, Virginia officially arrived, creating “cocaine Rap” for a new generation in tandem with fellow VA natives, the Neptunes.
Hell Hath No Fury dropped on November 28, 2006, itself the victim of several delays related to label politics – which would eventually lead to Clipse suing Jive Records. Nevertheless, the album was embraced wholeheartedly, though it did not enjoy the same charting success as its predecessor. At the time, Pusha T and Malice had amassed a deeply loyal – albeit at times hard to pin down – fan base, and in the decade since its release, the LP is remembered more fondly for its deep cuts than its singles, at least by most. “Mr. Me Too” and the Slim Thug-assisted “Wamp Wamp (What It Do)” were mediocre successes at best, whereas Clipse reminded fans of their true potential on records like “Ride Around Shining” (featuring Ab-Liva), “Hello New World,” “Ain’t Cha,” and “Trill.”
But there is perhaps no song on Hell that is more Clipse-y than “Keys Open Doors,” a record with a haunting beat and ice-cold lyrics which combine to create an aural snapshot of the mindset of “a kilo shopper.” King Push starts things off, letting Heads know that, despite the millions he made on the previous Clipse LP, he “ain’t spend one rap dollar in 3 years.” Throughout his verse, he makes it clear that he remains a street hustler’s hustler, even with the shiny Rap career. In fact, he still cherishes the life that got him where he is now (“Bitch never cook my coke, why? Never trust a ho with your child”). He’s also got a few choice words for rappers running the same drug-to-Rap playbook, saying “at you make believe rappers I smile, ha/Canal Street’n my style” (Canal St in New York City is where shoppers can find bootleg versions of anything).
At the time of the song’s release, Malice had yet to change his name and launch his pursuit of a faith-based life, but his bars on “Keys” are raw and uncut. “The shit sell itself,” he boasts of the product he’s peddling, so pure that customers will “love how it melt.” As longtime fans are well aware, both brothers have a proclivity for religious imagery in their lyrics, and Malice dropped Biblical references and other historical knowledge throughout his verse. He mentions the War of Roses, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Mary Lady of Grace, and Jesus Christ – all while delivering lyrics about the impious fruits of his labors.
Beyond lyrical content, these two brothers really have proven the song’s title to be true. Pusha T and (No) Malice made it no secret early on in their careers that selling drugs allowed them to pay for studio time – keys of cocaine were flipped into keys to the doors of a new kind of hustle. After Hell Hath No Fury, they released one more album as Clipse, Til the Casket Drops, but neither has counted out a reunion in the future. Now, King Push is president of GOOD Music and is still enjoying the success of 2015’s King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, his most recent solo album and one which cracked the top three on Billboard‘s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. No Malice has launched an entertainment company, REinvision, and earlier this year, he announced a new album Let the Dead Bury the Dead, still forthcoming.