The Long-Awaited Clipse X Kanye Joint Arrives

April 20, 2009

The internets were all abuzz a few months back when word got out that everyone’s favorite Jived duo Clipse hopped on the same track with Mr. Ego himself. The song should have had its own PR team – it was even graced with a not-so-far-fetched rumor that Kanye got greedy and snatched the track for an Air Yeezy’s commercial – with the Virginia duo only feeding into the hype by waiting almost a month to squash the rumor on XXLMag.com. But now, after months of patiently sitting on our hands, the song has arrived. But does it live up to all the hype?

These days, a rap jam with replay value is nothing without a hot beat. And with DJ Khalil billed as the producer on this joint, you’d figure he’d come with something a bit harder. But after giving this jawn a few spins, nothing sticks. This is one of the flatest beats to grace a Clipse record in the post-Hell Hath No Fury era (let alone a Kanye song, but with his production discography, he gets a free pass), built on thwacking drums and a limp electric guitar sample (I wouldn’t be surprised if they let Weezy cut loose on the instrumental tip). It’s way too sparse and frail to serve as the rhythmic foundation for their rhymes, and if it weren’t for the airy rim clocker that serves as the snare, this would be nothing more than a beat best served on a mixtape platter.

All beats aside, the rhymes are what really matter on this collabo, and they leave much to be desired. Pusha T comes skipping out of the gate with his emphatic yet shrug-worthy rhymes, name-checking Notorious B.I.G. yet again (check his verse on S.L. Jones’ “No. 1 Supplier,” where he spits, “Reign on the top / Never quote him, I ain’t know him”). This time, it’s not a direct quote, but more of an homage to the fallen emcee through a relatively limber rhyme: “The flow running on Big’s heels / My life after death, Big ain’t get to see how this feels.” But soon after, Pusha’s back to assembling recession-proof rhymes, doting on his baller status in spending 100 G’s in the face of an economic crisis. It feels like it’s all been done before – the witty braggadocio, the fiscal carelessness – and he seems to be only one rhyme away from re-flaunting the fact that there’s so much ice in his Rollie, that shit don’t tick, man (what happened to all the snow references?).

Then comes Kanye, who undoubtedly drops the tightest rhymes on this bundle of mediocrity. For once, his self-awareness is on point: “I guess I’m like a black Marshall, he’s Jay.” Only here, “Renegade” is this shit and Clipse are Jay. On a track where Kanye can out-flow Clipse and make an apt Eminem comparison, you know something went wrong.

Malice finishes off the track with a so-so verse, spitting the most lyrically adept rhyme on the entire track: “The roof vamoose, like a magic show / Got me lookin’ to the heavens like a javelin throw.” It’s too bad that he’s so concentrated on keeping the flow that he doesn’t let this one sink in, a factor that’s not only killed the potency of previous A+ Clipse rhymes, but puts the nail in the coffin on this potentially viable verse. Then comes the chorus and fade out, and the only thing that’s left echoing in our heads is that soulful snare hit (you get a gold star for that one, Khalil).

After all the blog talk and stan hype, “Kinda Like a Big Deal” really isn’t a big deal at all. If this is what we were supposed to salivate over, then these three were clearly more dazzled by their own star power than the music they created. Knowing Clipse, Till the Casket Drops will atone for this misdeed and be a heater regardless of a clunky first leak. But just a word to the wise: can the Kanye and Swizz Beatz contributions and stick with the Neptunes. Because not even the thorniest of hip-hop haters can deny their collabo power.

Download: Clipse – Kinda Like a Big Deal featuring Kanye West (Dirty)

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