This time last year, the Clipse complained to anyone who'd listen how unhappy it was on Jive Records. Now, the act's wish to leave has been granted. Sibling MCs Malice and Pusha T have ended their deal with Jive and the Neptunes' Star Trak Entertainment in favor of a new arrangement with Columbia, Billboard has learned.
The Clipse emerged early this decade on Star Trak, which at the time was distributed by Arista. The duo's 2002 debut, "Lord Willin'," was a critical and commercial smash, and has sold 948,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
When Arista was restructured in 2004, the label's artists were split between J and Jive. But Star Trak joined Interscope, leaving the Clipse behind at Jive. The act lobbied to be allowed to follow Star Trak to its new home, but Jive refused, resulting in a lawsuit that sought to break the Clipse's four-album deal (Jive had no comment at deadline).
Although the suit was settled after Jive agreed to a distribution deal for the Clipse's own Re-Up Gang Records label, the relationship continued to deteriorate, with release dates for the group's sophomore album constantly shifting. That set, "Hell Hath No Fury," emerged last November via Jive, but struggled out of the gate. It has sold just 194,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.By then, the Clipse was in talks with a variety of labels about a new deal, eventually settling on a five-year, 50/50 profit-sharing arrangement with Columbia for Re-Up Gang Records.
The Clipse will own the masters for its Re-Up Gang artists, Ab Liva and Sandman. Next year, the Clipse will issue a Re-Up Gang album as well as a new studio disc, but for the first time, the latter will not be produced solely by the Neptunes. Instead, the brothers are anticipating working with Timbaland, Danjahandz and Dame Grease."I can honestly say that we were all friends before the music and will be friends to the end," Malice says of his relationship with the Neptunes. "Everything is business. If we had our way, we would always be on Star Trak. But it's what's working for you and what's not. We just want good energy, and Columbia has both the urgency and the muscle."