All of the problems with Clipse's new album can be heard on the track Popular Demand (Popeyes), which starts with a menacing beat topped by luxurious piano tinkling courtesy of Pharrell's Neptunes. Then comes a head-spinning first verse from Pusha T, in which he name-checks boutique hotels in Miami Beach and taunts LeBron James in the same breath.
Then the wheels come off. A guest spot from an otherwise excellent Cam'ron fails to hold the listener's attention, as does Malice's second verse. The lustre is lost by the end.
The group's third album and follow-up to the awesome Hell Hath No Fury follows the same pattern, beginning with promise - Popular Demand and the Kanye West-assisted Kinda Like A Big Deal - but quickly losing its way. Instead of drug raps, counselling is a bewildering recurring subject. The duo also picks questionable beats - nothing quite as hard as their breakout hit, Grindin', or as catchy as 2006's Mr. Me Too.
These wrong turns don't sink the album but steer it into an awkward middle place unbefitting the talented group behind the wheel.
Top track: Popular Demand (Popeyes)