Clipse now officially as important as Estelle…
Martin Skidmore: Punchy and crunchy beats plus some high screamy noises, all from Khalil, give this a real urgency. I’ve always liked Clipse; I guess originally that was mostly down to the Neptunes, but really I like their rapping too, firm and confident. For tune and bounce, this is a fine record.
Martin Kavka: DJ Khalil’s beat sounds like the love child of a Russ Meyer film and a spaghetti western — in other words, cool as fuck. And it’s great to hear Kanye display his skills without AutoTune. But his verse is just strange: “Got head from a girl in special ed / You know the pretty ones in that dumb class / But she got that dumb ass / Hit high school and got pregnant dumb fast / What happened Tisha, your boyfriend come fast?” Dude, she got you off. Coudn’t you care a little about someone who spared you the shame of masturbating?
Chuck Eddy: Kinda like the title, which sounds kinda colloquial. Also kinda sarcastic. Tough and twisted and propulsive spy-movie via harmelodic punk-funk via “All About The Benjamins” (kinda) guitar loop all through, too, plus some Eddie Hazel kinda spume bubbling up volcano-like. The raps don’t kill me beyond the title hook, and don’t have to (okay, I chuckled at “got head from a girl in Special Ed”. So sue me. Also, “alligator souffle” sounds kinda yummy).
Al Shipley: It’s kind of a big deal that it’s Pusha, not Kanye, that delivers the Snorg tee-worthy chorus. Still, Kanye does kick some goofy punchlines reminiscent of his early humble verses, before he reminds you how deluded he is about his skill nowadays with the “Marshall meets Jay” line. And that’s about the only thing you’ve got to differentiate this from a dozen identically bland Clipse mixtape tracks.
Jonathan Bradley: Love or hate the autotuned psychodrama of 808s and Heartbreak, its rap-thin nature seems to have rekindled Kanye’s passion for rhyming. His guest spot on “Kinda Like a Big Deal,” like his contributions to NASA’s “Gifted,” Keri Hilson’s “Knock You Down,’ Rick Ross’s “Maybach Music 2,” and Kid Cudi’s version of Lady GaGa’s “Poker Face,” is audacious, hilarious, and gleefully idiotic; the Thornton brothers are, for once, outgunned, but their turn is still no slouch. Pusha-T finds a pastime that sounds even more amoral than Malice’s boast that he’s “the reason the hood need a dental plan”: “It’s a blessing to blow a hundred thou in a recession, with no second guessing” he sneers, as if trying to find a way to make Bernie Madoff look sympathetic. Malice too is engaging, but his couplets at times become rote enough to risk spelling out the central conceit that makes the Clipse so much more compelling than the majority of their coke-rap contemporaries. With their shrewd similies and pat homilies the Clipse propose that theirs is a world in which individuals act without agency; people there do bad things not because they are desperate, or because they are malevolent, but simply because bad things are what they do.
Alex Ostroff: “I’m the reason the hood need a dental plan.” Also the reason why hipsters need a punch in the mouth. How many tired coke punchlines do we need from technically skilled rappers before we can move on to new topics?
Michaelangelo Matos: I’ve always been fine with Kanye’s rapping, and I am here too. The other two aren’t quite as present — that’s what you get when you write an actual chorus instead of repeating a phrase — but the beat is just off-kilter enough to work the way their first two albums did. Especially the first, which, listening to this, seems secure in holding its place as their best.
Alfred Soto: As usual with these guys, let their beats pummel you and you’ll convince yourself that they really do have something to say about The Game. Kinda no big deal.