Kanye West Reuniting Clipse Is Kinda Like A Big Deal (Audio)
Today (October 25), Kanye West released Jesus Is King. As most have anticipated, the album’s release has garnered lots of attention, thanks in no small part to the controversial things Kanye has said or done in recent years. West has been hinting at the album’s religious undertones for months, hosting the now infamous “Sunday Service” pop-up performances replete with heavy references to Christianity. The album itself, West’s ninth solo project and first since 2018’s Ye, is unsurprisingly laden with religiosity; all nine tracks either directly or indirectly reference Christ and the album’s opener features his Sunday Service Choir. But Jesus Is King also includes something decidedly un-Christlike: the reunion of the greatest “Coke Rap” group of all time.
On the album’s penultimate cut, “Use This Gospel,” Clipse teams up for a historic duet. Brothers Pusha T and No Malice (formerly known as Malice) haven’t released an album as Clipse since 2009’s Til the Casket Drops. The duo known for 2000s classics like “Grindin'” and “When the Last Time” played a pivotal role in popularizing a style of Rap that artists like Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and others would echo in the years following Clipse’s 2002 debut Lord Willin‘. The Brothers Thornton parted ways as a music group, but as individuals they continued to pursue music albeit in differing ways. Pusha T became a Grammy-nominated solo MC thanks to 2018’s Daytona, as well as the President of West’s GOOD Music. Malice changed his name to No Malice, in part because of a desire to lead a more faith-based career in music. Since then, he’s released two solo albums.
In 2016, No Malice explained of Clipse’s breakup and his religious conversion saying “What happened was I was no longer able to talk about those kinds of things that I would talk about in the way that I would talk about them. Anybody who followed the Clipse and know about our catalog in the music—you know that’s what they want. They want what they know the Clipse for.” However, he did not rule out a Clipse reunion entirely, explaining “I’ve said it before, my brother and I would definitely make clown soup out of all these MCs.”
With the new song, Kanye West has indeed done something historic in bringing Clipse back together in the booth. However, “Use This Gospel” is not unlike legacy material from Clipse. Push and Malice commonly used religious imagery in their raps (and album titles), and for West’s album they stuck to a similar formula. In his verse, King Push thanks God for protecting him, rapping “How could He not be the greatest? In my bed, under covers when undercovers had raided.” No Malice does not ignore his drug-dealing past, lamenting the errors he made while cleverly rapping about cocaine. “A lot of damaged souls, I done damaged those / And in my arrogance, took a camera pose / Caught with a trunk of Barry Manilows.”
In the same 2016 interview, No Malice said of a potential musical reunion with his brother, “I would like to see Clipse do it.” Three years later, it appears Kanye West provided him with the right opportunity. West has seemingly taken a turn towards Gospel (or, at least, a Gospel-inspired sound), much like fellow Chicagoan Chance The Rapper. Notably, “Use This Gospel” (which also features jazz saxophonist Kenny G) features no cursing, even from Pusha T.