Clipse - Lord Willin' (2xLP)
The first act signed to The Neptunes' newly formed Star Trak label was a Virginia based duo known as the Clipse. The first single "Grindin'" impacted the streets with its bare boned but infectious drum beat in the same way that "Sucker MC's" did almost 20 years earlier. These brothers - Pusha T and Malice combined with The Neptunes groundbreaking production sent a clear message to the rap world - "we are not the same" (as rapped by Malice on his opening verse on "Cot' Dam"). Clipse brings an authentic Virginia sound into the game and created a movement, with not only their darkly layered raps but The Neptunes as well. Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo were able to combine their cyberpunk production with just the right group to create a street masterpiece. Following in the footsteps of such rap criminologists as Kool G Rap, Nas, Jay-Z, and Mobb Deep, the Clipse offer the Virginia hustler's viewpoint with clever, hard-hitting lyrics that is sprinkled throughout the entire album.
With so many standout tracks on Lord Willin' the album starts pulling no punches. On Track 1 simply (or maybe not) titled "Intro" you get a very personal and deep testament of crack and the drug game, a theme that is throughout this album...HEAVY. Songs like "Virginia" or "I'm Not You" (featuring Jadakiss, Styles P and Roscoe P Coldchain), have lyrics that play as a musical notes alongside The Neptunes tailored beats. "Young Boy", "Comedy Central"... all fit perfectly alongside "When the Last Time" and "Cot Dam" as each song plays its part as chapters to the Lord Wilin' masterpiece. "Gangsta Lean" (another one of the albums standout tracks) features a slightly lighter feel while paired with Pharrell's trademark falsetto hook. The truth of it is, it's hard to just pick one track, or point out which is the albums star. Each song on Lord Willin' is essential to making it the classic that it is. The Neptunes (who were busy turning out every other Pop hit on the radio) crafted an album that was deemed an instant classic, and cemented Clipse as Rap's newest superstars.