- SPIN Rating:6 of 10
The Re-Up Gang -- Clipse plus Philadelphia MCs Ab-Liva and Sandman -- made their bones on the revelatory three-volume mix-tape series We Got It 4 Cheap, and this full-length is an official introductory vehicle for Pusha T and Malice's moderately less-talented brethren. It's also a writers' workshop, with the fastidious wordsmiths staying sharp by trying to constantly best each other, verse by verse, punch line by punch line.
A market placeholder while Clipse ready their third major- label release, The Re-Up Gang will appease only those who are still fiending for the group's endlessly imaginative cocaine metaphors. (That rabid fan base might be disappointed to hear three tracks from their last mix tape simply remixed alongside nine new songs.) Clearly, these guys are consistently better verbalists than their peers, but here Re-Up's wordplay outstrips their production, save the futuristic, industrial-bleep-filled banger "Street Money" and the refurbished malevolent boom-bap of "Show You How To Hustle."
Re-Up's familiar lyrical floss and dope-dealer charisma are far from depleted. But what's new is a palpable measure of contemplative sadness, particularly from Malice: "The older I get, the colder my heart grow / I'm surprised I can smile with such sorrow / And inside I keep it bottled / I'm numb to this shit like my pilot is on auto." Trap existentialism: perhaps the richest vein they've yet to tap.