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In Concert: Clipse at State Theatre

clipseClipse only gave 50% at State Theatre on Friday. (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

By Aaron Leitko

Clipse has been making excellent hip-hop for nearly two decades, but something has always been missing. Hits, mainly. The duo’s dark rhymes and off-kilter rhythms—the latter courtesy of multi-platinum-selling production duo The Neptunes--have received heaps of critical acclaim, but the group has, unfairly, remained a cult act.

The Virginia Beach-bred duo's Friday night concert at The State Theater was missing something else, too: 50% of the act.

At 12:30 am Pusha T stepped onto the stage and announced that, for reasons that were never clearly explained, he would be performing Clipse’s all by himself. “Malice ain’t here,” he said, and left it at that. Before the audience could object, a backing track started blasting through the PA.

(Glass half full, after the jump)

Surprisingly, people were willing to take what they could get. Apparently half of Clipse is better than nothing at all. Pusha T gave a strong, if skinny, performance. A 21-minute set that only had room for the necessities—the singles from the group’s 2009 album, "Til the Casket Drops," salted with a few crowd pleasers from the back catalog. If you can only have half of Clipse, Pusha T is the guy to have. He’s the more inventive lyricist and the more engaging personality. Pacing the stage alone, clearly annoyed at Malice’s absence, he still managed to get arms waving with his verses for “Mr. Me Too” and “Kinda Like a Big Deal.” But the songs were truncated — Pusha T only performed his verses — and the rapper’s nervous delivery was at odds with the duo’s subdued style.

At least people got their money’s worth from the openers. D.C.-based go-go/R&B group Mambo Sauce performed an extended set, possibly to buy Malice some time to materialize. Local hip-hop stalwart Tabi Bonney—who opened the show, aided by two break dancers--upstaged everybody.

But where was Malice? “He’s got some special, important, things going on,” Pusha T finally admitted. Maybe life as a working-class rapper finally caught up with him. Clipse has delivered bold, innovative music and paid its dues, but the duo has never seen its ambition fully rewarded. Perhaps Malice showed up at the State Theater’s door, saw a poster for Hot Tuna or the Marshall Tucker Band’s umpteenth tour, and decided that a life on the road was more than he could handle.

But on stage Pusha T promised that more music was forthcoming. “2010, new Clipse music, new Re-up Gang music,” he shouted from the stage. Then he paused, a little awkwardly. “2010, 2011, solo projects by myself.”

By Aaron Leitko  |  July 5, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Clipse, Mambo Sauce, Tabi Bonney  
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Next: Week ahead: Unrest reunion comes to Washington; Kelis returns with "Flesh Tone"; Big Boi visits Leno


I've been waiting for this post because I expected The Post to shed some light on Malice's absence. No call to the record company? No statement from a spokesman? No comment from The State theater. Why not, Aaron?

Posted by: DCity | July 7, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

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