Pusha T of The Clipse After the huge success from the Neptunes imprint releasing hits like “Grindin'” and “When the Last Time”, The Clipse are back with a new album. Check out this exclusive all-out interview with ½ of the Clipse’s Pusha T as he that discusses the Jive Records beef, the Re-Up gang status, and working with legend Rick Rubin.
By William Hernandez
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the new album. PUSHA T: The new album is entitled “Till the Casket Drops”. We like to call it hip-hop on steroids because it’s a raw energy filled album.
WHO?MAG: How did you guys get the deal with Sony? PUSHA T: We hooked up with Sony after going through the little drama with Jive. They’re all under the same umbrella. They had a new hip-hop regime that had Rick Rubin involved and hip-hop since 1978, our branch and hip-hop Joshua from the Roc-a-fella era. They took interest in The Clipse and they gave us a shot.
WHO?MAG: Who’s on the album as far as producers and cameos? PUSHA T: We got Sean C and LV who basically did the American Gangster album as well as the Bad Boy projects The Hitmen. We got DJ Khalil – he produced a big deal sample kind of like Kanye West. He’s also produced other projects for Jay Z, 50 Cent, and Akon, and of course we got The Neptunes who produced 60 to 70% of the album. We got Kanye West, Cam’ron, Keri Hilton, Yo Gotti, and Pharrell who made an appearance. We got remixes with Rick Ross, Fabulous, and Pharrell.
WHO?MAG: How was it working with Rick Rubin? PUSHA T: He definitely gave us the liberty to do the album. He gave us a lot of insight as far as making the album. Make sure you love everything you do and don’t worry about sales. Try to make good music.
WHO?MAG: How was it working with producer EZ Elpee on the song “I’m Serious”? PUSHA T: That was a banger too! I’ve been seeing Elpee in VA sometimes. He’s dope. He’s a real hip-hop producer. I hope we get to work again in the near future.
WHO?MAG: What’s the status of the Re-Up Gang? PUSHA T: It’s alive and well. Right now it’s just myself, Ab-Liva, and Malice. As soon as we finish up this album we’re going to get back into the mixtapes.
WHO?MAG: Did you expect the “Keys Open Doors” song to be as big as it was with the fans and especially Jay Z quoting it for Blueprint 3? PUSHA T: That was one of the best hip-hop songs ever…one of the best features ever. I would think the likes of the Jay Z would like that record because it’s hip-hop lyricism and grungy dirty production at it’s best. To me, I love it. That’s one of my favorite records to perform.
WHO?MAG: How did you do on the Sneaker Pimps tour earlier this year? PUSHA T: It’s great! Sneaker Pimps tour is really great. It gives us a chance to identify our core audience. It was just a good time. Night to night we were rocking shows. It was beautiful.
WHO?MAG: How was the hip-hop scene in Virginia back in the late ’80s/early ’90s? PUSHA T: All these guys were talented individuals; The Pharrels, the Timbalands, the Missy’s, and Skillz. Teddy Riley came from Harlem and brought the whole New Jack Swing thing straight to Virginia Beach, parked right next to the high school, and it was one of those times where the music locally was the thing to do and as well as having a star like Teddy Riley and having Blackstreet and all those guys as well.
WHO?MAG: As an emcee, how do you work? PUSHA T: I’m a writer man. If the beat gives me the feeling and tells me where to go, then I have to put it down. I want to really see it so I can craft it and construct it. Draw parallels and see those parallels on paper. Make sure they fit and so on and so forth. I’m really not a freestyler.
WHO?MAG: Is there a chance of you guys working again with Bilal like on that song “Nightmares”? PUSHA T: Bilal is dope! That was one of mistakes of Hell Hath no Fury. We should of put that record out. We haven’t had a chance to but we’d love to.
WHO?MAG: How did the song The Funeral come about? PUSHA T: We were going through a lot of death and dismay – being out in the streets and our homeboys dying; so on and so forth. We just took that and made our own eulogy. We put on wax and put it to video. They [Neptunes] found it and were just blacking out one day. It’s always a real creative process with them. It was one of those days that you walk into the studio and those guys have something that is amazing. They’re just so confident about it and they’re looking at you. They’re making faces basically daring you to act like you don’t want it (laughs). It felt so crazy. We’re from Virginia and we shot the video in Virginia. It was an amazing time.
WHO?MAG: Was it the label that made you guys do the song “All Eyes on Me”? PUSHA T: Nah man! People really forget that The Clipse were the first to rap with the Backstreet Boys. The first to bring Justin [Timberlake] in on his solo tip. The Clipse made records like “When Was the Last Time You Heard it Like This” and it was a top 5 record. We’ve been through so much turmoil that people like to hear us angry. We actually like f*cking girls (both laugh). I didn’t mean it sex f*cking girls. Actually like women, party records, and make the girls dance.
WHO?MAG: I wanted to ask you about the verse in Mr. Me Too where you said, “Those crackers weren’t playing fair at Jive”. Did the label notice that line? PUSHA T: You’re damn right they did! They were angry. I didn’t sample that line. That was from my heart! There wasn’t nothing to clear. It was a thing of you’re going to ride with it or not. They thought the record was great and they put it out. By the end of my stint at Jive, I was banned from the building.