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Til the Casket Drops (Columbia)

Phases & Stages

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Til the Casket Drops (Columbia)

Be it for fame, money, "Freedom" from record labels, or more coke, Pusha T and Malice were never short on hunger in the studio, flipping freakishly minimalist beats from the Neptunes into big love from critics and a cult following. With Til the Casket Drops, the Virginia Beach brothers achieve crossover status (hello, Kanye West and Keri Hilson) but lose the fire that defined 2002's Lord Willin' and 2006's Hell Hath No Fury. Look no further than Malice's prophecy on "Champion": "Life is with your kids watching Madagascar." So much for "Keys Open Doors." Lukewarm beats from the Neptunes ("I'm Good," "Counseling," "Showing Out") on eight of 13 tracks don't help the cause. It all starts so well with Sean C & LV's "Freedom," Neptunes' "Popular Demand (Popeyes)," and DJ Khalil & Chin's "Kinda Like a Big Deal," but Casket drops right after that.

**

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