SPLAM: The Clipse – Lord Willin’ (S1E2)

After I (Lee) exposed my favourite albums, and they were all projects that came in 2000’s or 10’s – I asked Suood, Phil, Akash and Matt to recommend albums from the apparent golden era’s of Hip Hop. The twitter conversation soon led to Phil proposing a Hip Hop book club – and here is SPLAM (we struggled for a name, but using our initials stuck). Using Onyx’s S(p)lam as an unofficial theme song, we are going to take turns to recommend one another an album to listen to, and then post our opinions in a blog post. We are then to debate our opinions on Twitter, and invite other Hip Hop enthusiasts to join in the conversation using the #SPLAM. 
This week, we have Suood’s recommendation of The Clipse’s Lord Willin’. This isn’t quite as good timing as last weeks choice, but does come as Pusha T readies his latest solo effort, King Push. Here are the initial thoughts of the team:

“When you think of art, the first things that come to mind are paintings and drawings. Canvases that show what roams through the artist’s mind. Lord Willin’ is an art gallery filled with such canvases backed by the ever so wonderful production from Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, aka The Neptunes. The Clipse take you into their world over in Virginia Beach, telling their story so vividly, you’d think you were there to witness it all. The tracks where this is executed perfectly are “Young Boy” and “Virginia,” exhibiting how there was no way for the Thornton brothers to escape the lives they lived. I wasn’t the guy that got put on to the Clipse through “Grindin’.” I was a Pusha T fan first and worked my way back. But as soon as I heard that damn beat, no table around me was safe. I was fooled though. That first listen had me missing a lot of mean bars that were dropped on that song. However nothing hit me harder than getting to Malice’s verse and hearing “My grind’s about family, never been about fame / Them days I wasn’t able, there was always ‘caine.” And under a whole different theme, everybody can relate to “Ma, I Don’t Love Her.” I’d love to go into every track on this album but I’ll never stop. 
Brothers tend to fight but others have a certain bond. Here we have two siblings that got together and created one of the greatest Hip Hop albums of all time. An album that resides in my personal top 5. Nonetheless, I do think the Roscoe P. Coldchain verses were unnecessary along with “Fam-Lay Freestyle.” I’m also not a big fan of “Gangsta Lean.”
My Favorite track on this album has to be “Ego.” That chilling storytelling over such flamboyant production grips me instantly that I have to play it back every time. My least favourite is easily “Fam-Lay Freestyle.” I appreciate the look Clipse gave him, but that placement just fucked with the album’s flow.”

“I was still in school when Clipse’s debut album dropped, but sadly I never experienced the cultural phenomenon of the Grindin’ beat getting played out on the lunch tables and people rapping along to the words. I saw enough anecdotal evidence online though to know that this was one of those songs that in Hip Hop circles everyone knew every word – and every single beat in this case.
Lord Willin’ – totally produced by The Neptunes – had a lot of expectation to live up to then, and for me it did it and then some.
The production is a lot grimier than the radio friendly hits The Neptunes are more famous for, but for me it’s some of the best work they’ve done (along with In Search Of, released the same year). This must have been a dream come true for Pusha T & Malice but they’re never overshadowed by the beats and their buttery smooth flows lay down some intimidating, charismatic and at times hilarious coke raps.
Grindin’ is the obvious standout but the menacing Virginia and the absolute banger When The Last Time are other contenders for my favourite track.
Least favourite is a much easier call, but it’s not because ego is downright bad, but it’s the only song on the whole album I would peg below an 8/10. I never listen to the two needless remixes of Grindin’ at the end, but they don’t count anyway, right?
A classic album that has only got better with age and a prime example of what can happen when an artist and a producer are on the same page for a whole project – they elevate each other to new heights.
Best Track: Virginia
Worst Track: Ego” 

“Consequential of my love for Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name album, I’ve been subject to numerous recommendations of The Clipse. For one reason or another, I never bothered. I love a record that can balance detailing personal struggle alongside bragging abut overcoming the obstacles, but the prospect of coke-raps usually turns me off. 
When it comes to Hip Hop, I need to connect to the lyricism, otherwise no matter how talented it may be, nine times out of ten, I can’t listen to it. On MNIMN I felt a loose attachment to S.N.I.T.C.H and a few other joints, but its main attraction was Pusha’s delivery. That’s the exception right there. If I can’t connect, then the emcee has to deliver his words with a cadence so powerful that they captivate me, and its something which Pusha, alongside brother, No Malice, manages to maintain all the way throughout Lord Willin’.
I was not aware of the table-top phenomenon that Grindin’ caused, nor even that the record was entirely produced by The Neptunes, and whilst those are supposedly the biggest selling points, they’re both irrelevant to my appreciation of the album.
Instead, I’m hooked by the aforementioned delivery, the fact that The Clipse can actually fucking rap. Beyond that, their lyricism, specifically wordplay, is undeniable. Whilst it takes place in a setting which I have never experienced personally, their depiction is vivid enough to make it believable. Lord Willin’ is way more than coke-raps, its a showcase of a skill that far superseded my expecations on every listen.
Although I dislike hate despise the skits.
Favourite Song: Grindin’ / Ma, I Don’t Love Her
Least Favourite Song: Comedy Central”

Unfortunately Akash couldn’t turn in his contribution to SPLAM this week due to technical issues. Hopefully he can participate in the Twitter-based debate, and we’ll see him in two weeks time for Phil’s recommendation. 

Matt: 
“The year is 2002 and Matt Whitlock is a sophomore in high school, pullin’ all the womenz and simply raising the bar for even the senior-ist of seniors. Needless to say, times were good. …but could they get BETTER? As I walked past the in-house suspension room one morning, I couldn’t ignore the next and unfamiliar sounds I was hearing. Fist-to-desk music was taking new form with the release of the Clipse’s new single (and lead for their debut album, Lord Willin’) – “Grindin'”. See, where I came from, this album’s tracklist quickly became the unofficial anthem for my entire generation. The lyrics were street, relatable and resonated with everyone my age/in my community. It wasn’t like today’s music – this couldn’t be ignored. It was everywhere. It was beautiful. Groups of kids would gather outside the cafeterias, b-boy’s bringing slabs of tile to break on and beatboxers gripping pens while heading to the metal locker door for “street percussion” practice while this project rocked in the background. Now, Lord Willin’ isn’t the sole album/event responsible for this movement, but it definitely took it to the next level. To this day, I still bang on any desk I sit at (and know I’m not the only one). Aside from “Grindin'”, personal favourites from this project easily include “Virginia”, “When The Last Time” (Fucking TIMELESS AMAZING BANANAS SIRICHA FUEGO), “Gangsta Lean”, “Hot Damn” and “Young Boy”. “Lord Willin'” eventually went on to mark the #1 Billboard Rap album of the year in 2002 so, needless to say, it made an impact internationally. 9/10, highly recommended. 

So we all pretty much agree that this is a great album. It’ll be interesting however to see Suood’s reactions to Phil’s dislike of Ego and Matt’s appreciation for Gangsta Lean and vice versa. Check back to TheRootMusic for the next edition of SPLAM in which we’ll being sharing our thoughts on Phil’s pick – Masta Killa’s No Said Date. Join in the conversation on Twitter using #SPLAM.  


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