When you hear that one of your favorite artists will no longer be making music, it’s a tough pill to swallow. In 2003 when JAY-Z announced his “retirement” with The Black Album I was upset. At the time I was the biggest Jay fan that many of my friends knew (also the reason I adopted the Joe Hova moniker). Of course you know Jay eventually came back to reign dominant in Hip-Hop once again. I’ve always wondered if the same could happen for Clipse. After 2008’s Til The Casket Drops fans like myself waited patiently for more music from Pusha & Malice. Those dreams never came to fruition as the Virginia brothers split in the midst of Malice pursuing a lifestyle change, finding God, and rebranding as No Malice.
Earlier this year I wrote about No Malice having the best verse ever in terms of talking about selling drugs with ‘I’m Not You’ from 2001’s Lord Willin’. Check the piece out here. The verse has always stood out to me and showed a deeper side to a troubled soul. After the split, No Malice did drop music under this new name but it flew under the radar. Boasting features from brother Pusha T and former Re-Up Gang members Ab-Liva and Fam-Lay, 2013’s Hear Ye Him was met with critical praise from various publications but didn’t seem to stick. Four years later, No Malice has channeled the same vibes from his Clipse days only this time he’s using them for his beliefs on Let The Dead Bury The Dead.
Lead by ‘So Woke’ as the first single, this record proves that No Malice is still as sharp and fresh as he was nearly a decade ago with the last Clipse album. Instead of telling stories of repenting for his drug dealing days, No Malice appears to be making a statement for the times we’re living in. The production, backed by keys and drums, is the perfect landscape for No Malice as he presents what it’s like to be a Black man in America and how that wouldn’t change whether Trump or Clinton were elected President. The social commentary that No Malice provides throughout Let The Dead Bury The Dead should serve as a wake up call for those who aren’t paying attention to anything other than entertainment value in music right now.
What Hear Ye Him lacked for fans to not pay attention, Let The Dead Bury The Dead makes up for immensely. The replay value for this album is amazing as it stands with 10 tracks and no features. ‘Sky Crack’ provides fans with that same aggressive tone they’ve been missing as No Malice fears the end of days is near and can “hear the horns” as if the rapture is coming sooner than later. Records like ‘Fake News’ give more of a look into society while ‘Shame On Me’ explores the past transgressions of Malice. It’s tracks like the latter that remind you No Malice has the same skill set as a rapper, just that his subject matter has changed.
You hear me discuss fans’ unwillingness to accept artist growth all of the time; Malice becoming No Malice is the best example I can show you. Let The Dead Bury The Dead showcases that No Malice isn’t the same person religiously or spiritually but it does show he’s the same rapper. His keen lyrical content mixed with his distinct voice hasn’t changed (it may have gotten better as the only profanity he uses is the n-word). I’m sure many fans were turned away upon finding out that No Malice would not be rhyming with Pusha T anymore and that he was changing his lifestyle. In order to grow sometimes you have to make that change and cut the dead weight that was holding you down. No Malice sounds at peace with his decision to accept the Lord and turn his back on the life he once lived. Fans that can’t accept change have left but this has opened up a new lane for his music, one for people who may be in need of the same change that he sought after, and made, almost six years ago. Let The Dead Bury The Dead will serve as someone’s reason for changing their lifestyle and that’s what really matters.
Repeatable: ‘LU.4:5’, ‘So Woke’, ‘Shame On Me’
Skippable: ‘Fake News’
By Joe Coad
No Malice’s Let The Dead Bury The Dead hits stores August 18th and is available for pre-order now. This review is based on advance stream of the album exclusively made available to HipHop-N-More.