Hell Hath No Fury (Jive)

With all the biblical allusions on the 2002 debut Lord Willin', Virginia Beach's Clipse (brothers Pusha T and Malice) probably didn't intend to also evoke Exodus. But in the aftermath of the Sony-BMG merger that buried the act at Jive, the duo has wandered for years without a release date for follow-up Hell Hath No Fury. Until now.

"I ain't spent one rap dollar in three years," Pusha boasts on Hell's "Keys Open Doors," (and for those not familiar with his day job, these keys stand for kilos). Coursing throughout Hell, a compacted disc as uncut and brain-tingling as Clipse's purported product, there resides a palpable bitterness. Sneering out "these sounds of crackness/ the Black Martha Stewart/ let me show you how to do it," Pusha and Malice also ride the Scarface imagery — but the metaphor never tires, as the razor wit and punchlines accentuate the idea of the hustler being versus rap challengers becominga thug. Answering with berating tongue clucks loud as gun cocks on "Ain't Cha" and "Mr. Me Too," the acidic grain of the rhymes is tempered by the Neptunes' tweaked and avant batch of beats. A vertiginous harp strum pervades "Ride Around Shining," an accordion wheezes like a basehead on "Momma I'm Sorry," and eerie female choirs arise elsewhere. Terse, sinister, and brilliant, Clipse finally sees daylight just in time for the holidays, suggesting not just more Frosty the Snowman allusions, but nothing less than the true Kingdom Come. Andy Beta

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