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I interviewed Clipse today. Yesterday before the interview I went to the Jive offices and heard all of Hell Hath No Fury, while Pusha and Malice sat in the room. I’m not a hip hop writer, but I’m doing this for CMJ because I loved We Got It For Cheap vol II. I’ve never felt so out of league though, especially when they put me on the spot and asked what I thought the strongest tracks were, and why. It’s bad enough to only get one or two listens to each track, but to have to describe it on the spot was nearly impossible. Pusha has to be in the room every time the album is played for someone. Their publicist said there are maybe two copies of the album in anyone’s hands, but I wish I could listen again– listening for lines, beats, synth tricks, tightly-wound syllables is just too much at one time, for one listen.
So Clipse may be a little outside my comfort level, but I am far more comfortable talking about artists like My Brightest Diamond, aka Shara Worden. I love her voice; it’s cold and distant but still has moments of vulnerability, like a woman who would show up crying at your door at midnight, but would still be gone before you woke up. Not that I would know. I saw MBD at their CD release show. Here’s a piece of a Nina Simone cover, one that Jeff Buckley did as well, and so you can hear how she and him both use their vocal acrobatics. Here also is “Firefly,” from her debut album Bring Me The Workhorse.