“Grindin'” by Clipse (2002)

“Grindin'” is hard as shit. It has proverbial ice running through its proverbial veins. It’s an interesting marriage of two pieces I can find problematic individually.

I can’t say I’m crazy about hip-hop (or any music) that leans too hard into drug dealing. I think there’s a fine line between street reporting/storytelling and glorification, and when I bought Lord Willin’¹ (the album that contains “Grindin”) and listened to it, I was like “ok, we get it. You sell coke. Can you please move on to other topics, please?” So after Lord Willin’, I pretty much checked out of other Clipse albums and even Pusha T’s solo work.

Pharrell The Neptunes can be quite frustrating as a production team. There has unquestionably been some hot shit with their stamp on it, but there’s also been some certified poop. “Grindin'” is certainly the former-and it’s a master class on production minimalism. There’s nothing but that drum machine (which sounds like a million prison doors clanging shut) and some echo-ey, spacey synthesizer. The low-key production emphasizes Push and Malice’s vocals. They’re rapping with a cold smirk, the music has a cold smirk and the result is phenomenal.

Shout out to this YouTube commenter:

Label : We only have a lunch table and a pencil

Pharrell: Bet.

¹-I’m fairly sure that this and Coldplay’s A Rush Of Blood To The Head were the first two albums I ever bought from an online retailer.

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