Notoriously delayed by Jive Records (known for their clueless mismanaging of hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest and UGK), Clipse spent the past year sitting on the back burner, all the while releasing flawless material through the independent mix-tape circuit, thereby making idiots out of a label better known for marketing N*Sync to fetuses. The wait was long, but at last I can say Hell Hath No Fury, Pusha-T and Malice's second official album, is a relentless thing of beauty.
As Pitchfork recently pointed out, the members of Clipse share the worldview that once made Mobb Deep so intriguing: they are nihilistic, drug-dealing killers, horribly evolved into startling efficiency, seemingly growing gills just to breathe through their constant hell of blood and cocaine. The catch is that the Clipse brothers possess a savage brand of jet-black wit that finds equally chilling manifestations in the humorous and the grotesque. One-track rappers to be sure, Clipse get over, coke-rhyme after coke-rhyme, on their own brand of bristling intensity, a scary calm that captivates like a slow-motion car crash.
-- ANDREW MATSON
DOWNLOAD: "Ride Around Shining"
Why would Sir George Martin, the Beatles' longtime producer, get behind this project? Put together for a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show and then unleashed on the public, Love is supposed to be a reimagining of the Beatles revolutionary music. But it's like somebody wanting to put a different hairstyle on the Mona Lisa -- no matter how artfully done, nobody should mess with perfection.
Some of the 26 tracks have instrument parts stripped out completely: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" sounds like some kind of demo, unplugged version. Other times, it's an intro that uses little snippets of several Beatles songs: On "Get Back," you get "A Hard Day's Night," some Abbey Road and then George's famous guitar intro. Still, I just can't get past imagining a bunch of spandex-clad mimes swinging around on some Vegas stage, and that pretty much ruins it for me.
So if you know someone who needs to meet the Beatles, you can't buy Love; get them a copy of Rubber Soul or Revolver.