The year 2007 brought us a lot of hits. Some artists we never saw again, some are still on fire. With the crazy changes in hip-hop, it’s hard to predict which fires will burn out and which will maintain their flame. But for some, struggling to make the next big hit is not on their agenda. Some just want to make music. Brothers Malice and Pusha-T, of the Clipse, are the perfect example.
Having been in the game since 1993 says a lot about the Clipse. What goes up must come down, and the reason these brothers haven’t gone down just might have to be because they’ve never worried about being up. After label drama, a much delayed release of their last album, and the changes in the industry raining down on them, the Clipse is still going at it. And their loyal fans have faced every part of the storm right along with them. So Ballerstatus.com spoke with brother Malice on signing with Sony, his current projects and the music forecast of 2008.
BallerStatus.com: How was your New Year’s?
Malice: My New Year’s was cool. You know, no big production. I brought New Year’s in with my family at home, then I went out to my manager’s club and just said what up to all my homies, and then came right back in. It was a very quick night. It wasn’t really too much poppin’, kinda crazy out there.
BallerStatus.com: Any New Year’s Resolutions?
Malice: Nah, I mean not one in particular. It’s just always to do better, better yourself. But not one in particular.
BallerStatus.com: What are you working on right now?
Malice: Right now, we actually wrapped up the We Got It For Cheap Vol. 3 mixtape series — The Spirit of Competition: We Just Think We Better.
BallerStatus.com: Nice. How’s that going?
Malice: It’s crazy, you know, we having a really good time with it. We have my brother and myself, the rest of the Re-Up Gang; Ab-Liva and Sandman. We just trading verses going back and forth, having a lot of fun.
BallerStatus.com: Right now, the industry is definitely different than when you first started out in ’93. There’s a lot of one hit wonders getting radio play and people seem to like that. With all the changes, how easy would you say it is for an artist to put a song out right now?
Malice: It depends on what that person does, if it’s in the genre of one hit wonders (the fly by night cats), you can do that. That seems to be very popular these days. You know, the Clipse and the Re-Up Gang definitely don’t deal with anything like that. Our music, we like to think, has a lot of substance and that’s been one of the things that we’ve gotten credited for, and that’s for being consistent. We had the four year hiatus and people still sought us for shows, so I think that says a lot for the music. I think credibility is everything and I think if you just do what it is you do and stay at it, don’t try and switch up, and don’t try to go with the fad or what’s popular at the time, just do whatever it is you do. You know what I’m saying? I think you get respected for that and I think it calls for a better artist.
BallerStatus.com: I believe that. Clipse is always talking about how important the fans are. Especially right now with the industry giving new artists a chance, and with the fact that you guys have always been viewed on more of the underground spectrum. I’m sure the true fans are shining through more than ever.
Malice: Definitely. And you know that’s what it’s about for the Clipse. Our fans are everything to us; our fans are the people that kept us around, the people who enjoyed our music when we were going through an absence. We were never one of those groups (especially with this last album) that put our music all over the radio or you saw our videos a lot. That just wasn’t happening, so when we come out and we do shows and the fans know all of the words, it’s not because they [saw] it on TV or heard it on the radio. It’s because they listen. That’s why it makes it that much more special when we get to come to different cities and different towns and rock with our fans. It’s like we’re real intimate with our fans. We go to different cities and see the same people over and over again and it’s crazy because they still ride with us. So our fans are everything [to us]. We feel like we know a lot of them.
BallerStatus.com: Yeah, a lot of artists say they do it for the fans, but you guys have actually proven that by keeping it real personal with them.
Malice: Like I say, I hate to keep harpin’ on it, [but] we been through a real difficult time. Label woes and just goin’ through a lot and not being able to turn left or turn right. Just at a total stand still. As you know, we went through the lawsuit as we waited for the labels to decide whether they were going to act right or not. You know they waited for us, they stayed with us. Fans don’t do that. I mean, you gotta constantly be in their face; you gotta be in their ear. You gotta stay visible and all of that and we just weren’t able to and they were still riding with us. That’s why we feel like we owe them a lot.
BallerStatus.com: With all the crazy changes in music, a lot of artists who have been around for a long time are trying to switch up their style just to stay in tune with what’s hot right now. A lot of it, of course, ends up sounding totally against their style. The Clipse has never been known to conform to what’s hot at the moment. Is that ever hard for you?
Malice: No it’s really quite easy. It’s really a no brainer, [there’s] nothing else that we can do. I don’t care what’s going on out there. I mean we do what we do; we make the kind of music that we make. We talk about the things that we talk about because it’s truly us and it’s nothing to figure out. It’s just really that simple. When if [there] indeed comes a time that the things we’re talking about become played or our style of rap and our style of music become played, that’s just when it’s it. Because it ain’t no switchin’ up and tryin’ to do something else; its just over. But I’ma do this forever; without the deal and when everything gets quiet, I’m still going to want to have fun and make this kind of music, and talk this kind of language with me and my homies that do the same thing. Re-Up Gang.
BallerStatus.com: I don’t think you’ll have a problem with that. Your true fans have shown their loyalty.
Malice: I hope not. Hope they’ll continue to ride with us.
BallerStatus.com: I know it’s a New Year; the drama from years past is behind you guys now. But if you just had three words to describe the basis behind the Clipse’s drama with Jive, what would those three words be?
Malice: (He thinks for a minute) Poor, poor promotion (laughs). That would be the three words I would choose. That was the only problem that I had with Jive.
In all fairness, Jive is no different than any other label in my eyes. It’s all about taking this music and it’s really being exploited. You take these lil’ rap kids and they come out with this hot stuff and they just make tons and tons of money off of it. If it works, great. If it don’t work, then you know, re-coup and on to the next. So it’s not Jive, it’s big business. And Jive — the same label that we felt wasn’t giving us good promotion — is the same label that also agreed to let us out of our contract with a clean slate. No tabs I might add, which just does not happen in the rap industry. It just doesn’t happen that way. So it ends up [with] them playing very fair and [that’s] all labels. Its just is what it is; it’s life. Welcome to it. Everything has it perks, has it goods and its bad.
BallerStatus.com: Yeah, it’s a game. You just have to know how to play it.
Malice: Yea you gotta play it and learn to adjust. A four year hiatus; Pusha-T and myself just had to ride with it. We just tried to stay creative and do what it is we do and waited for everything to fall in place. But it’s all good now, we got the new deal, a new situation, and we’re real happy about it. Everything worked out.
BallerStatus.com: You guys have been with Sony since October of last year (2007). I know you had other offers, what made you seal the deal with them?
Malice: You know, Hip-Hop over at Sony reached out trying to make this happen. We had quite a few offers, but Hip-Hop, along with Rick Ruben, moved with a sense of urgency. They made us feel like we were welcome and important and some kind of priority. I don’t know what kind of priority, but some type. And it’s going to be great working under Rick Ruben because he himself is an artist, and he understands the price of an artist. That’s supposed to be Sony’s whole movement now over there — to be a more artist friendly label. So, I’m looking forward to see what happens and I feel really, really good about it. Now, they can f— that up for me if they want. I feel good. We’re going into the New Year with good thoughts and good intentions and hope for the best.
BallerStatus.com: On Palms Out Blog here on Ballerstatus, I read what you said about the climate of music. You were saying that music is like seasons and it goes through climates. Do you think 2008 will bring a change to the climate?
Malice: You know what, I’m never good at predicting sh– like that. I can never tell what’s going to be the next thing or how long it takes for the next thing to come in, or when indeed is it actually the next thing. I think it’s interesting to see where music has come from and where it is today; watching it evolve. I don’t know if it’s for better or for worse. I just know I don’t want to be the old dude talking about I remember when music was like this or like that. So I just listen and try to pay attention and see what’s going on but that don’t change what it is I do.
BallerStatus.com: Who has a huge influence on the climate right now?
Malice: Definitely the South. The South has been very visible and prominent and has had a huge impact on this game for the last few years. I remember for me, when hip-hop was just starting off, it was just the East Coast, like New York. That was the only type of hip-hop I liked and that’s all I knew hip-hop to be. And then it’s like the South just comes in and they just take over and they just flood the game. And you know, they selling record numbers and that was a hell of a change, you know what I’m sayin’? Yea so I would definitely say hats off to the South for making they mark. They did a number.
BallerStatus.com: Where do you fit into in the climate? Do you feel you’re not in the climate?
Malice: Man I am always in the climate. I don’t subscribe to that climate or whatever they talk about. Good music is good music. I make the kind of music that I like to listen to. We all make the music that we like to listen to and it’s quite a few of us out there that still enjoy that. My thing ain’t to cater to everybody, my thing is to cater to myself. Being true to me and what it is we do in the music that we make. I can’t speak for nothing else man. I don’t even know about nothing else. The whole entire world is just going to have to say “Shut up, ya’ll wack. Be quiet,” and “We don’t want to hear that” and I’ll listen to that. But as long as we have followers and people that’s checking for the Clipse, as long as we got each other that’s what its going to be.
BallerStatus.com: That shows a lot about artists, whether or not they are really in it for the right reasons.
Malice: Yea man, ain’t nothing to make a big fuss about. Nothing to get all wrapped up about. It’s second nature. Some people over think, “I’ma make music like this” or “I’ma make music like that” or “I’ma get this group of people” or “I’ma get the kids” or “I’ma go for this crowd.” I mean that’s hit or miss, some people might even win with that. I’d rather take the slow grind and be consistent.
BallerStatus.com: Yeah, so you agree the artists who try too hard to stay in the climate end up falling off?
Malice: I mean that’s been the synopsis. It seems to be how it works. They come and go, come and go.
BallerStatus.com: Any last words?
Malice: It’s a New Year. It’s a new deal. It’s the Clipse. It’s the Re-Up Gang ’08. Look out for the Re-Up gang album in March. Clipse coming in the summertime. Look for the new Clipse mixtape: The Spirit of Competition.
BallerStatus.com: Oh! Before I forget, I promised my boy, who is one of your loyal fans that I’d ask this: “Will fans ever find the Clipse ‘cranking’ anything?”
Malice: (laughs) I happen to like Soulja Boy. Tell him I like that.