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Thursday, August 14, 2008

JUNIOR VARSITY

Clipse's requisite posse album fails to score

Posted on Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Clipse Presents Re-Up Gang
Label: Koch
Length: LP
Rated: NONE
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Clipse Presents Re-Up Gang

Here's how the Re-up team runs their offense: Pusha T or Ab-Liva ' one, then the other ' block up front, the former flaunting a hard-edged, high-livin' hauteur, the latter's verses comparatively clumsy but witty in their construction. Then Sandman hits the post, coming from a different, oddly hypnotic angle ' his tightly stitched couplets refracted through some sort of vocal filter to create the impression that (a) he's adrift in a swirl of sonic dust, and (b) the listener is mildly stoned. Finally, Malice swoops in from nowhere to quarterback the rap pigskin over the line for a touchdown. Mal is a mercilessly literate hustler with a heart of dry ice, his couplets intricately crafted, expertly deployed. 'Cry Now,â?� from February's We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 3 mixtape, featured his finest end-zone invective yet: 'Ill with the composition, I'm Mozart/You don't want the fifth to start spittin' so don't start/Not to mention, I'm everywhere, like OnStar/Prolific like W.E.B. DuBois.â?�

If the three We Got It 4 Cheap entries were promising scrimmages, Clipse Presents Re-up Gang should be a season game, but it plays more like the coke-rap equivalent of highlight-reel bits mixed with a few standard real- time plays.

Most of the tracks sport dope beats and find the Gang profitably forsaking the aforementioned pecking order. Over Illfonics' regal beat for 'My Life's the Shit,â?� Ab-Liva and Pusha trade pop culture'referent verses, while Malice drops his obligatory 'Miami Viceâ?� name-check cuisine before Sandman's skyscraper braggadocio ('I know where I'm at and where I came from/My closet the only thing I'm lost inâ?�). Karl Maceo and J. Storm prepare an ominous pinging-synth matrix for 'Street Money.â?� 'Trampoline P/Every brick bounce,â?� Pusha sneers before invoking boxing champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. Later, Ab-Liva shouts out David Blaine and Sandman praises his own bling: 'Blade so clean, you would be cocky/Both hands need blades on, this is a hockey/Rink, on the arm of a mink.â?� That the track recalls the Neptunes, Clipse's former production team and creative lifeblood, doesn't hurt.

'Bring It Back,â?� meanwhile, is more at home in the fluctuating, washed-out tones of Jae Millz's original than it is in Sleepwalkers' space-age hyphy minefield. 'Show You How to Hustleâ?� soaks in Sleepwalkers' sonorous haze of bells, rattles and beat skittles, supplanting ' if not quite besting ' Pharrell Williams' smushed organ swipes from Cheap Vol. 3.

Despite a few choice plays, the middling 'Fast Lifeâ?� and the rote nostalgia of 'Been Thru So Muchâ?� are typical of the benchwarmer feel throughout. It's embarrassing enough that opening track 'Re-up Gang Introâ?� is recycled from Vol. 3, but couldn't someone at least edit out Pusha's 'Welcome to Vol. 3â?� intro?

Because this crew's put out so much quality content online, legal and free, they've put the onus on themselves to play even harder at prime time. Re-up Gang is just an exhibition.

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