I was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked (filthy)
So much so, I had left my family forsaken
A troubled soul whose heart was often achin’
So much dough, but my spirit ever so vacant
Foul and fragrant I was taken off course
The road ahead should have ended me in divorce…
Last night what I’d seen made my life change…made my life change
The Brothers Thorton (Malice and Pusha T aka The Clipse) have officially been in the rap scene since 1997 (when they first signed to Elektra), a time when rap was returning to a more “conscious” state. People were actively looking for Hip-Hop with intelligent content. Rawkus Records was starting to build serious momentum and two murdered legends, 2Pac and Biggie, were still fresh in people’s minds.
When one thinks of the Clipse, two things come to mind: cocaine and wordplay. Yes, Pusha and Malice mainly rap about serving that powder white, but they’ve both delivered their share of incredibly complex lines to elevate them beyond the average mainstream rapper. Throughout their discography, they have been critically acclaimed; however, it wasn’t until their mixtape in 2005, We Got it For Cheap 2 that solidified their place in middle America’s rap radar.
Come 2011, Pusha T now runs with Kanye West’s GOOD Music label (last seen delivering his lyrical ability on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), but the eldest Thorton, Malice, has taken a more passive role. He’s temporarily stepped aside from rapping and decided to independently release an autobiography. Wanting to share his experiences within the music industry with those who are willing to read, this is Malice—rapper turned author.
Your music career has taken you through an incredible journey. Starting with a vaulted first album, Exclusive Audio Footage, then critically acclaimed albums and mixtapes, to pop collaborations such as the one with Justin Timberlake you guys absolutely murdered…what was your motivation through the ups and downs during the early part of your career?
The motivation was always having a love for Hip-Hop. I never really thought we would take it as far as we did. It wasn’t until the Neptunes started to get their foot in the door that we started to take it seriously. Before that, I would always rhyme and freestyle and kick it…you know, with the homies that were doing the same thing or whatever. But growing up with Chad and Pharrell we said, “Hey, we might as well try to take this somewhere.”
Word, you guys should definitely be mentioned in the pantheon of the rap elite!
(laughter)That’s wassup! Appreciate that, thank you.
In your opinion, if there was anything you and Pusha could have done differently to get out there, what would it have been?
Hmm…differently…I really believe and am truly a believer that everything happens for a reason. I think everything happened the way it was supposed to happen. I never subscribed to the whole, Clipse is underrated, this; that; and the third. I think everybody gets exactly what they deserve and are viewed at the way they are to be looked at. I mean, I don’t think it’s cool to say “we’re underrated,” and then pout about it because someone else is mainstream and so over the top. Nah, I mean the end justifies the means to me. You know what I’m sayin’?
I know some of the fans want to say that we’re underrated or we should be this or we should be that, but yo…whatever comes my way—I humbly accept it. That’s just what it is. I never look at myself and say, I should be this or I should be that.
I completely understand. Where do you see the Clipse in relation to other Hip-Hop groups?
I think Clipse is definitely a rare…a VERY rare breed, if not the rarest. I think the intellect of the Clipse is something that you just do not find with most groups or solo artists for that matter. I do not believe that you get the true-to-life aspect too much in Hip-Hop. Most of the time somebody is basically wearing a façade, or maybe they can rap but they didn’t live what they’re rapping about, or maybe they can’t rap but they can fake it real good. A lot of the times it’s one or the other, but the whole Clipse story man, it’s an open book. [Every record] is an open book to everything about the Clipse, it’s definitely no fakin’.
You said in a previous interview, “it’s the hip hop that we come up on, it’s the hip hop that we love and it’s the hip hop that got us where we are” who were your inspirations in rap music?
Definitely…the Jay-Z, Biggie...whole kind of MC. That’s like right up our alley. That’s the hip-hop that we thought was everything. The Hip-Hop we identify with, street hustlers turned rappers. We love that. Even prior to them, Big Daddy Kane…Rakim, those kinds of brothers were straight lyrical.
Any Hip-Hop artists you’ve got your ear to?
I don’t really listen to too much Hip-Hop these days, but what I do hear...I like a lot of the stuff. I don’t like it for the Hip-Hop that I like, but I like it for...you know, when [I’m] out in the club and I see how everybody enjoys the music...the fun that they have, the dances that go with the songs, everybody recitin’ to the song and swag surfin’, and all that kind of stuff. I can enjoy that, I really do...and appreciate it, I don’t turn my nose up at the new stuff at all.
In your online video vignettes, you say you wrote a book because your life had changed, tell us about Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind & Naked. Why this title from Revelation 3:17?
Well, that title best describes the condition that I was in. I wasn’t even aware of it when I was in that condition. The things that I wrote weren’t easy. It’s not the cool thing or the convenient thing to do, but it is a must because I had such a wild experience. Matter of fact, I had the wildest experience...it’s such a phenomenon that I can’t even believe that I was even chosen to go through what I went through, but it does make sense because I have to share it with everyone.
The book itself entails my life--my childhood, life in the industry, my family life...this book is extremely personal and Malice is all the way exposed in this book. I left nothing back. I had to do it because everyone’s seen me in my splendor...they’ve seen me at the top of my game, they’ve seen me at my highest point so I’m sharing my lowest lows with them as well. I think it’s very important, especially to the younger cats that aspire to be in this industry, that they know the truth about everything.
There’s nothing wrong with Hip-Hop, there’s nothing wrong with having lots of money, there’s nothing wrong with gettin’ it...but you better have your head on straight because you’re either going to succeed or meet destruction, one of the two. I mean look at artists in the game now, you see them in rehab and facing alcoholism, drugs or going to jail...that’s a real thing. You can even attach that to successful artists. No one’s exempt, anyone can fall for any of that stuff. If you don’t have your head on together, money can destroy you. That all I’m sayin, I’m not badmouthing anything. You should get it, take care your family, help those that are less fortunate and enjoy life. You know what I’m sayin’? Enjoy life.
My whole movement and everything that I’m doing…it is not a movement to convince, convict or make people believe what I believe. I’m just telling my story, and when you hear my story…there’s no way anyone’s going to be able to deny it.
Definitely, man. You talk about taking care of your family, how do you find a balance between your work and family? How do you find the time?
Man…first things first, nothing comes before your family other than God. Other than that, nothing comes before your family. You know, you do what you have to do. I spent a lot of time on the road away from home, but that was to take care of the financial things that everyone has to go through. I’ve been fortunate to be very present in the lives of both my kids. I have a son and a daughter, and I give them all of the knowledge that is so essential to survival. I’m just glad I’m a present father to my children.
Speaking of God, we know you’ve been spiritual in your rhymes since Lord Willin’, but these days I come across the question, “What happened to Malice from the Clipse, why did all of a sudden he become religious?” How do you feel about that? What would you say to people who say that to you?
It’s not so much that I’m religious, I just believe in Christ. No one will ever really be able to say that [I just became religious], because if you listen to all of my work...I’ve always incorporated God into my work—always. In “Exclusive Audio Footage,” the first interlude is called “The Prayer.” I said, “Lord, if these words hurt more than they help...forgive us.” If you hear that interlude, there’s no way you can say that I just hopped on this [religion]. There’s another song on that called “Watch Over Me,” and if you listen to the lyrics on that, it’s nothing but us speaking to God. So I’ve always been on that, and really all I’m doing is basically…coming back home.
Where can people find your book? When does it get released?
It comes out on Valentines Day [February 14, 2011]. You can either go to my website http://mademylifechange.com/, some people know it as http://maliceoftheclipse.com/, but they both go to the same link, or you can go straight to http://thorn10publishing.bigcartel.com/. I did everything myself man, I wrote it, started my own publishing company to publish it, did all the videos and vignettes for the video blog that you see, marketed it...did everything myself. It’ll also be on Amazon so you can get the e-book for your Kindle and all that other good stuff, but it won’t be out until February 14th.
I also want to say, I can’t leave out my man, John Spruill. We went to junior high together, high school together, and he supported me throughout the entire writing process. I would write it and he would make sure all the punctuation was correct and vibe with me. He was my support throughout the entire process, but make no mistake: I had no ghostwriter. What you get is definitely coming from my bedroom straight to ya’ll crib. There’s definitely no middle man.
I want people to know that. It’s not that I turn my nose up to the ghostwriting thing, because I actually tried that. But when I got it back, it wasn’t my words so I had to go back to the original plan. I think the book is really going to change lives, man. I already know it’s going to change lives because it already has. I mean, the comments and feedback I get on my twitter (@malice757) alone...people are giving me a lot of support and telling me that they went through a lot of the same things and can understand and relate.
Dope, dope. So, what’s next for you after the book drops?
After the book is the audio book, and we’re also writing another book with my man and manager [Anthony "Geezy” Gonzalez] who’s incarcerated right now. We’re going to be telling that whole story because that’s also going to be crazy. It’s going to be called 32, which refers to the sentence he got, 32 years [for drug trafficking]. We’re working on writing that together.
I didn’t actually know how sensitive that was to you, but wasn’t sure if I should bring that up about your manager...
Why not? It’s all out...all out. (laughter) Yeah, we talkin’ about everything. Let’s talk about everything, straight up.
Word, how has your manager being incarcerated affected you as an artist?
That situation has made me wisen up. It’s definitely a heartbreaking situation for our group...we’ve been together before the music. We came up together and we’ve always been [tight]. There are a few more homies that got locked up and caught up in this whole mess…it definitely affected the group. Personally, it affected me in my writing. You know, I just feel compelled to let everybody in on the full spectrum. Not just one side of it, but I gotta let everybody know the ins and outs, the good the bad, and that way once you know everything then you can choose what you want to do or how you want to be.
So before 32, will this situation be touched on in Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind & Naked?
Yeah, a lot of it is included in the book, but my story is very compelling and one that deserves its own spotlight. I touch on it a little bit.
Malice, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it!
Nah, I thank you. Thank you for even being interested and even willing to share with your followers and readers and stuff man. It’s great, and I just really wanna say that it’s like we’re a real intimate community right now. Especially with my movement and the things that I’m doing and the things I’m talking about. So, like Descry, if you’re interested…this is my family right here. All of you are my family, for real. Real tight knit, and I’m letting you know that ya’ll are gonna be the first to be on something that is definitely going to impact Hip-Hop. This book is something that’s going to put a dent in Hip-Hop and all the fronting’s going to come to cease.
Before I go I just want to say, the book is a great read. It’s not some book you’re going to have to sit with for weeks or months at a time to finish it. It should only take you roughly like three to four hours to read it. There’s nothing long or drawn out that’s going to bore you. It’s poppin’ from the beginning. I want everyone to see what it is I saw cause I saw the wildest things, bro. I saw the wildest…THE. WILDEST. Things. But when you get the book, don’t expect this book to be a Clipse record in book form. You already know everything that the Clipse is about, but this is something different.