By Jimmy Ness
Hearing half of the Thornton brothers do anything other than spit vicious coke raps just seems wrong. Like a convicted murderer claiming their religion to the parole board, listening to Malice after his conversion to Christianity leaves a foul aftertaste. As part of the duo Clipse with his brother Pusha T, he was making drug rhymes menacing enough to give Rick Ross nightmares. And yes I’m aware Malice’s new name is No Malice, but like an ashamed parent I refuse to acknowledge this glaring mistake.
June is the first track from Virginia’s new holy man and it’s the opposite of heavenly. The annoying Eric David sung chorus drowns the song and ruins any replay value. Malice brags about his past life then rhymes about being a changed man and supposedly hitting rock bottom. There’s nothing wrong with evolution if you’re got something specific to say. But without any personal detail this track lacks something to dig into. Rather than invoke past troubles (being afraid of catching AIDS), the 35 year-old offers tame lines like “trying to put my thing where I ain’t got no business.” It might just be a promotional single, but for the first record under your new identity, a captivating mission statement would help.
Far be it from me to dictate terms to an artist, but we know what the fans want. The Hell Hath No Fury reunion. Malice’s sincerity deserves credit, but rap’s not exactly a stranger to religious hypocrisy. From Nas to 2pac, dozens of MCs have invoked religion without limiting their subject matter. Even Eminem says he believes in god despite comparing himself to the face-eater Hannibal Lecter and giving teenagers a lifetime supply of shit jokes. No one wants to be preached to in rap form (see late period: KRS). Understandably, a lifetime of over-consumption must get exhausting. But people are always going to want/expect the raw from Clipse.
Rappers turning into holy men doesn’t exactly have a successful history and is a proven way to alienate your fanbase. Shyne became a crazy Rabbi, DMX’s Gospel album vanished, and MC Hammer made that terrible video about Jay-Z being the devil. The only example of religion being cool in rap is the Five Percent Nation and that’s because it’s like a secret club only Wu Tang, Nas and Busta Rhymes know about.
Will Malice’s new album flop and have him joining the likes of Master P and Ma$e in rescinding faith for a career comeback? I’m probably assuming too much based off one track, but I have a sinking feeling the answer is yes.