No, it's not We Got It 4 Cheap: Vol. 2.

That mixtape was a flamethrower to the safe houses major label rappers found themselves in, circa 2005. After 60 raging minutes, those rappers' beats lay ashen and an industry shook as fire alarms blazed: someone had pissed off these two crack-brewing bards.

No, Clipse's official sophomore album, Hell Hath No Fury, is not an unrelenting lyrical assault fueled by label frustrations; it's a more remorseful affair. Gone is the urgency of the aforementioned Clipse mixtape, and in its place is heightened cynicism and self-awareness. On the album's stomping opener, "We Got It 4 Cheap," Pusha T raps, "Through all the adversity the fury was born." Rather than hitting anything that moves, Pusha T and Malice are out to first and foremost reconcile their own frustrations.

Indeed, Clipse have previously bemoaned their label troubles, but those troubles were their sole focus. Now, boastful as they are regarding their success, Clipse sense an impending return to the streets: "All I wanna do is ride around shining while I can afford it" they rap on the hook to "Ride Around Shining."

Despite a dark sound not heard since RZA was at the helm for the Gravediggaz crew in the mid '90s, Clipse still manage to earn their lyrical black cards. Prada, Gucci and Jimmy Choo all make obligatory appearances.

And what of Clipse's production Pied Piper? Skateboard P, who truly brought Clipse to the mainstream, apparently has his senses back. Sinister, sparse beats take "Grindin"-era simplicity to new levels, as the Neptunes opt to explore different instruments while allowing their signature offbeat drum patterns to return to the forefront of their sound.

Besides its ridiculous album cover, Clipse's sophomore effort exceeds expectations by stretching the soundscapes of mainstream hip-hop and in so doing, rebuilding the house that crack rock built.


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