Virginia rap duo the Clipse announced today that they have signed a five-year contract with Columbia Records, evidently bringing to a close years of acrimonious label drama for the group.
The Clipse — two brothers who rap under the names Malice and Pusha T — first signed with Elektra in the mid-’90s, recording an album that was never released. Things began to look up when they moved to Arista, which released 2002′s gold-certified Lord Willin’, spawning several hit singles. The Clipse began working on a follow-up album, Hell Hath No Fury, almost immediately, but a corporate merger forced them to switch labels yet again in 2004 — this time ending up on Jive — before they could capitalize on these successes. The album’s release was postponed many times over the next two years as relations between the rappers and their new label soured, culminating in a lawsuit (later settled out of court) in which the Clipse sought to leave Jive. Fury finally came out on Jive in November 2006 to widespread critical acclaim, but the Clipse’s contract with Jive ended this summer. (In an ironic twist, Jive and Columbia are both owned by the same conglomerate, Sony BMG.)
The deal represents a symbolic coup for Columbia’s new co-chairman, producer Rick Rubin, who has pledged to challenge music-biz orthodoxy and focus on nurturing talented artists. And fans may not have to wait nearly as long to hear more music from the duo: Their deal includes plans for a new Clipse album next summer, a group effort with their associates the Re-Up Gang in March 2008, and eventual solo albums from each sibling.