Clipse, "Til the Casket Drops"

Hip-hop duo Clipse was bound to face high expectations for its new album, "Til the Casket Drops." After all, Virginia brothers Pusha T and Malice will be measured up to the heavy acclaim (if not sales) of 2006's "Hell Hath No Fury," which featured snarling cocaine-rap rhymes and glistening beats by constant collaborators the Neptunes. Unfortunately, the duo and its favored producers seem to lose their laser-like focus on "Til the Casket Drops," which wavers between appeals for commercial recognition (the schlocky "I'm Good" and the Keri Hilson-assisted "All Eyes on Me") and surgical street bangers ("Never Will It Stop," "Popular Demand"). "Now what you see is Malice in contradiction/He who has ears, hope you're listenin'," Malice raps on "Footsteps," which like many of the album's best tracks isn't produced by the Neptunes. (Here, it's DJ Khalil.) Clipse fans are no doubt still listening, but they'll need a more cohesive vision next time around.-Monica Herrera