While many of hip-hop’s young bucks continue the time-honored tradition of sowing their wild oats, several of the culture’s decorated veterans seem more focused on leaving a legacy of literature.
Within the last few months, we’ve seen Jay-Z author a critically acclaimed tome to help us “Decode” his life and lyrics at the same time Professor Trill began lecturing grads and undergrads at Rice University about the intersection of “Religion and Hip Hop Culture.” The latest MC to join the maturity movement is Malice of The Clipse.
On Valentine’s Day he dropped Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind, and Naked, a written testimony of his life and quest for spiritual significance. The book was promoted online with the Biblical tagline: “Remember your first love.”
Gene Thornton, Jr.’s story is definitely an interesting one. The 150 page manuscript tracks his career from the military to the microphone, from moving a key to Skateboard P, and from crack house to church house.
The narrative and accompanying video excerpts on the author’s website don’t always represent the MTV model of a successful rapper. But Malice doesn’t believe his current direction will catch anyone by surprise – often pointing out that The Clipse’s first, unreleased album had both a prayer track and one titled “Watch Over Me.” (Additional tip-offs include that image of Jesus riding in the backseat of the car on the cover of Lord Willin’ and album titles like Hell Hath No Fury.)
“I like to think that we have always been known to give you both sides of the story,” Malice said. “I believe that in anything you do, if you are going to be successful with it, you have to have your foundation with God first, then the world can be yours. And if you like what I did, if you like my music, what I rap about, and you believed me then, you should believe me now.”
He’s certainly not the first rapper to flirt with Christianity. Everyone from DMX to KRS-ONE and Bushwick Bill have dipped their toes in the holy water. (Malice even follows former Bad Boy Ma$e’s path of writing a book about his conversion experience.) So what does he offer to make audiences believe he’s legit?
“I think it’s a good question and one that deserves an answer,” Malice said. “You know how the world is. It’s just going to keep on criticizing and it’s going to chew you up and find the flaw. And that’s cool, whatever people think that’s their right.
“But it’s not for Gene to prove to the world how real he is about his Jesus. I’m definitely not trying to play that game with anybody. But I think time will tell. I will say I am definitely a believer and I know without Him I am absolutely nothing. So I make no bones about it and I’m not trying to play a role. I can’t. I refuse to. I’m taking it day by day and doing the best that I can.”
And given today’s hip hop climate with everyone from Jigga to those kids with Odd Futures playing with dark imagery, one has to wonder what Pusha T thinks about his rhyme partner’s new direction – especially after signing with Kanye who has also had to deal with Illuminati allegations.
“I’m the older brother. So what I do is what I do, you know what I’m saying?” Malice said with a laugh. “He speaks about it and he thinks it’s great.”
“There are definitely dark forces in the world. That’s not really my concern. What I will say is, and for me, just for me personally… as a believer, I’m not going to allow you to not know where I stand.”
“You’re not going to misconstrue anything about Gene on a level where a mass of people are not sure or are uncertain. I’m going to let you know that I believe in Christ. Now, you don’t have to like it, love it, or whatever. Once I clarify that then it’s back to business – rapping or whatever it is I’m doing. But I do know there are two forces – good and evil and I believe it is impossible to remain neutral.”
For video blogs, excerpts, and ordering info visit: www.maliceoftheclipse.com