Album: Lord Willin’
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
The fact that the Neptunes are responsible for the entire production of every track on this album will have some people running to the stores to pick this up, and others running for the hills. Neptunes production is a hotly discussed topic at the moment in Hiphop circles, even more so now that everything they produce seems to be selling out the ass. Neptune-lovers will point to the fact that almost everything they touch seems to turn to audio gold, with club anthem after club anthem being churned out almost at will to keep speakers banging worldwide. As for people who ain’t feeling the style, they’ll point to the fact that the majority of their beats sound remarkably similar – dominated by that familiar kick-kick-twang ‘Tunes sound, and that they have a penchant for being snapped up by more commerical artists. You kids, will NOT like this album.
Clipse come to us from Virgina, the last place visited with Muhammad my man on Tribe’s ‘Award Tour’, and stomping ground of heavyweights like Timbaland, Missy, and Mad Skillz. Its also home to Malice and Pusha T, who while still trying to make a mark on the rap game hooked up with Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo who were themselves trying to get noticed. The result was a bouncy 12″ called ‘The Funeral’, which got a little airplay on both TV and radio. On the back of this collaboration, both duos pledged allegiance to the other, promising, in time-honoured Hiphop-homie style, that whoever blew up would come back and put their counterparts on. As things turned out, the Neptunes reached the summit first, and after producing bangers for artists as diverse as Nelly, Destiny’s Child, Sade, Jay-Z, and NORE, now return to VA to keep their part of the bargain.
You’ve probably already heard ‘Grindin”. Its the lead single from this album, and has been playing on regular rotation on Hiphop stations worldwide. Over a raw stripped down beat, more akin to lunchroom table-banging sessions that multi-million dollar studio recordings, Malice and Pusha T break down in explicit form, the science of slangin’ ‘caine. It’s certainly an acquired taste, and I have to admit that the first time I heard it I wasn’t feeling it at all. But the simplicity and repetitive nature of the beat is the key to this shit, and to Neptunes production in general – you see whether you like it or not, Tunes’ beats force their way into your skull, beating a tattoo all over your brain until you can’t help nodding.
Time and again throughout the album, the formula is repeated with devastating results – beat, hook, verse, hook, verse, bridge, verse, hook. Its the SAME shit EVERY song, and this is where the haters get their kicks, questioning the Neptunes for their audacity in following exactly the same blueprint for every track, and also questioning the intelligence of the fans snapping it up – “can’t you realise they’re recycling shit over and over?”
The answer – if the music is good, I’m playing it. So the infectious horns spread all over ‘Young Boy’, backed up with Pharrell’s trademark falsetto warblings, is a heater. The bouncy ‘Ma, I Don’t Love Her’, with the addictive addition of Faith Evans on the chorus, is a heater. The ominous rumbling bassline on ‘Comedy Central’ which gives way to the Clipse talking mad amounts of shit to non-believers, while again telling us all about their pharmaceutical past times, is a heater. You getting the picture?
Its not all about club bangers though – the tropical ‘I’m Not You’, slows the pace down as mictime is shared with Jadakiss and Styles. Likewise, the ode to their homestate ‘Virginia’ darkens the vibe with low synths dominating the proceedings, as Pusha T and Malice again talk that cocaine talk.
OK so we’ve covered the music, what about the lyrics. Hmmm… let’s see. Take a pinch of story-tellin’ Kool G Rap, add a dash of Jay-Z humour, and mix it with the arrogance that some of these up-and-comers like Fabolous possess. The result – Clipse. Some times amazingly on point, whilst at other times, covering the same mindless drugs, money, cars and bitches lines that a million and one emcees have already uttered. And that’s the puzzler – how could something that we’ve all heard before suddenly sound so fresh and exciting again once Pharrell and Chad work their magic?
It’s all summed up in a moment of brilliance called ‘When The Last Time.’ For me, THIS is THE summer anthem – a straight up club banger Neptunes style but with a fresh electro-tinged twist. Its almost worth the entrance fee alone – I fell in love with this as soon as I heard it, and heads in the clubs where I DJ will testify to the ass-shaking power of this track.
You already know if you’ll like this or not. For fellow Neptunes fans – pick this up, its banging. For those who have never dabbled with the audio delights of Willams and Hugo, this is a great place to start. For the rest, cover your ears, because these guys have made an album that you’re gonna be hearing pieces of for the next few months. Enjoy!