The Clipse third album, "Til the Casket Drops" (Re-Up/Columbia; Dec. 8), revisits the drug and crime themes the Virginia Beach, Va., raised brothers lyrically addressed to critical acclaim on its first two albums. But whereas 2002's "Lord Willin' " was more easygoing and 2006's "Hell Hath No Fury" was much darker, "Casket" strikes a balance between those two moods. Listen to an exclusive stream of the album right here on Billboard.com and judge for yourself.
Peaking at No. 27 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, its lead single, "I'm Good"-produced by longtime collaborator Pharrell Williams (half of the production duo the Neptunes)-captures the pair's survivor spirit. Chosen to build on the "Good" momentum is the head-bobbing hood anthem "Popular Demand (Popeyes)." Featuring fellow rap stalwart Cam'Ron, the mixshow track was also produced by Williams. Additional guests include Keri Hilson on "All Eyes on Me" and Kanye West on the project's setup single, "Kinda Like a Big Deal."
Meanwhile, the Clipse go dark and gritty with "Door Man," where Pusha T raps, "If the good die young, then the greats go to jail . . . I miss my Tony." The verse references former manager Anthony Gonzalez, who recently struck a plea deal on a federal drug conspiracy charge and is due to be sentenced in January. The duo is now managed by Steven Victor for William Victor Management and Yaneley Arty.
"This album is full of unhandcuffed drive and energy," Pusha T says of "Casket," which also features production by DJ Khalil and Sean C & LV. "We popped out of our usual element with the Neptunes, but it still has all the realness the Clipse are known for."