Only Kanye’s Gospel Album Could Reunite Clipse

Five years after No Malice promised that Clipse would never reunite, Kanye got the brothers — a decade after their last album, Til the Casket Drops — rapping together again. Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Pusha T didn’t realize how much he’d missed talking music with No Malice — let alone rapping together — until they were in the studio, working on the closer for Kanye’s new album, Jesus Is King. Five years after No Malice promised that Clipse would never reunite, Kanye got the brothers — a decade after their last album, Til The Casket Drops — rapping together again. Over the phone with Vulture one recent afternoon, Pusha T discussed the reunion, and what it felt like to be back in the studio with his brother. “Awwww man,” he says, letting out a long sigh. “I’m the younger brother, man. I mean, I’m happier than — I can’t even express it!” The brothers talk every day, but working together again as Clipse wasn’t something Pusha thought would ever happen, after years of No Malice turning down lucrative gigs. “I can’t speak for him, but I do think a lot of it had to do with feeling like he should be more present in everything that I had going on musically in the past couple of years,” he said. “There’s nothing like having a true warrior by your side.”

Jesus Is King finds Kanye mining God and religion to piece together Kanye’s own gospel, a Christian rap album totally without swears. Clipse and Kenny G feature on the penultimate track titled “Use This Gospel” (it was previously the closer on this ever-changing track list). Kanye was the one to request the Clipse feature, but Push wasn’t sure No Malice would say yes. “The whole theme of the Jesus Is King album totally speaks to where my brother is,” Pusha T said. “Him and Kanye definitely bonded, probably way more than me and Ye bonded in the creation of this.”

“Everybody’s saying that’s the only one [album] that No Malice would rap on. It was just beautiful. They were out here [in Wyoming] working on the album just five months ago,” Kanye recalled to Zane Lowe in a prerecorded interview that aired on Thursday. “I remember sayin’ I wasn’t even gonna rap. I didn’t know how to rap for God. So I remember No Malice being like, “I’ma write you a rap for this. You gon’ rap on this.” He continued, “This is such a win for the kingdom.”

Once the brothers got into the studio, Pusha T said, he’d found something he’d forgotten he missed: There’s a shorthand between family that makes it impossible to mince words in the way another collaborator might. “I’m laying down verses, and he’s like, ‘Ah, that probably could be better. You could say that better.’ And I’m like, ‘You’re right.’ Or, ‘It sounds cooler this way or that way. It’s too many words in that line!’” Push said. “Just having that scrutiny [is important]. It’s a scrutiny that he doesn’t hesitate with, because he’s my older brother.” Other people say he raps on “some rap titan-level,” Pusha says, making it hard to get feedback. “It’s good to speak criticism at all levels so that we get out the finished project,” he said. And what does he think their fans will make of the reunion he himself thought would never happen? “When people hear the album and hear us on the album, they’re gonna 100 percent know that this was an Olympic-level festival in the studio.”

Only Kanye’s Gospel Album Could Reunite Clipse