Escaping music industry purgatory for rappers is difficult for in all genres but rap duo the Clipse rose to the occasion, not once, but twice. Comprised of brothers in rhyme Pusha T and Malice, Clipse originally inked a deal with Elektra Records in 1996. The honeymoon ended quick though, and the the deal would fall through, leaving their debut album, Exclusive Audio Footage, shelved indefinitely. Despite that setback, the Virginia bred wordsmiths found their footing and signed a deal with Arista Records through producers — and longtime friends — the Neptunes’ label Star Trak in 2001. CLipse released their single “Grindin'” the following year.
The buzz from the track was undenibale in the streets — and amongst average rap fans — thanks to its unorthodox beat courtesy of the Neptunes. The druglord musings of Malice and Pusha on the single set the tone for their debut LP Lord Willin’ . It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and ultimately earned a platinum plaque. The success would position the Clipse as rising stars and left listeners salivating for more, but when the group’s parent record label, Arista Records, was absorbed by Jive as part of a merger between Sony Music Entertainment and BMG, the red tape would throw a monkey wrench into the release of their sophomore album, Hell Hath No Fury.
Instead of being able to move with Star Trak, which would land them a deal with Interscope Records after leaving Arista, Clipse were forced to stay at Jive, a marriage that proved to be strenuous from the start. Originally set to be released in 2004, Hell Hath No Fury saw numerous delays and pushbacks. That lead the frustrated duo to become embroiled in a legal battle with Jive, who appeared more focused on developing its pop acts than on giving the duo’s sophomore album the proper attention and push it deserved.
Keeping their name hot with their mixtape series We Got It 4 Cheap as part of The Re-Up Gang (Clipse, Ab-Liva, Sandman), they also refused to fold in their cold war with Jive. The two sides eventually came to an agreement to release Hell Hath No Fury in May of 2006 through a new joint-venture with the Clipse for their imprint Re-Up Gang Records. Hell Hath No Fury saw additional delays, but was finally released on November 28, 2006, more than four years after Lord Willin’ first hit shelves — to much intrigue and anticipation.
Featuring production by the Neptunes, who had also helmed Lord Willin’, the album was a noticeably more bleak effort than its predecessors, straying from club bangers and lady-friendly records from previous albums. THey fully owned their rep as rap’s resident cocaine merchants throughout the album’s fourteen tracks. The less than festive vibe of Hell Hath No Fury can be largely attributed to the group’s label-woes and frequent false starts keepingc Clipse from striking when the iron was hot, resulting in a brooding long player that aired their grievances.
Debuting at No. 14 on the Billboard 200, a substantial drop from the Clipse’s previous showing with Lord Willin’, Hell Hath No Fury would fail to reach the commercial success of its predecessor and pegged a commercial disappointment, but would be hailed as a masterpiece by numerous critics, who praised its potent lyricism and innovative production.
To celebrate the ten year anniversary of its release, VIBE compiled the 20 most uncut bars from Hell Hath No Fury that will leave you fiendin’ for another dosage a decade later.