Hell Hath No Fury

Released

Hell Hath No Fury is the definitive coke rap masterpiece from rappers Clipse and producers The Neptunes. The Neptunes build thick, chunky beats from bright sounds and let them rock, while brothers Pusha T and Malice tell tales of blockbuster drug sales and the largesse that the lifestyle affords them. Standout tracks include the tongue-in-cheek “Mr. Me Too” and the bouncy “Hello New World,” both featuring hooks from superstar Neptune Pharrell Williams.

Nate LeBlanc

As the Neptunes transitioned from perpetual hitmakers to occasionally-brilliant legacy names, their greatest partners in hip-hop had the good fortune to still get their best beats — and use them to increasingly on-edge ends. If Lord Willin’ was surprisingly joyful, even magnanimous, in the Clipse’s sense of coke-trade resilience and the spoils that come with it, Hell Hath No Fury is the frank, cold-blooded counterpoint/counterpart. The whole vibe rides on a guarded, throne-defending “fuck around and find out” stance, heat-treated by some of the most elaborate-flowing and irreverent (and occasionally over-the-line) punchlines of hip-hop’s harshest decade. The beats have a ton to do with that, as though the Neptunes decided going for avant-adjacent broke was a better move than attempting to coast off ’02 fumes. Here they’ve unleashed their most diabolical rhythmic mutations (no more muted cardboard-box snares, this bangs) and decorating them with some of the most bizarre melodic flourishes ever heard on a hardcore hip-hop record. That encompasses post-Madvillainy accordions (“Momma I’m So Sorry”), endlessly echoing harp-from-hell swoons (“Ride Around Shining”), latex-bound trap-Reznor hedonism, (“Trill”) and, somehow, the actual honest-to-Brak Space Ghost teleportation sound (“Mr. Me Too”). That only heightens the contradictions of Pusha T and Malice’s triumphalist bravado, where it all sounds like the thrill-chasing excess that Bilal-laced, Geto Boys-interpolating closer “Nightmares” predicts will eventually turn into the third act to Scarface. Until then, victory is certain if you’re willing to fight for it: “Who gon’ stop us? Fuck the coppers, the mind of a kilo shopper/Seein’ my life through the windshields of choppers/I ain’t spent one rap dollar in three years, holla.”

Nate Patrin

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