Ironic, the same place I'm making figures at/That's the same land they used to hang niggas at, Malice says later on that same cut, "Virginia," and he doesn't sound mad. He is mad. The music matches the lyrical tension, the Neptunes' sparse menace as lean and mean as someone who just got out of the joint after a five-year bid. "Grindin'" is the grittiest hip-hop hit in years, little more than skittish kick-snare stutter and ping-pong patter as Clipse inventories its ill-gotten gains (The 20s are spinning like windmills/And the ice?/32 below minus the wind chill). "Intro" does the same thing, Pusha T piggybacking the Neptunes' low-end theory and steel-drum slither as he explains why the brothers were raw before rap: Back in '84, when I saw Crockett and Tubbs as the law/These eyes got big when they televised that raw/My mama should've seen it coming/Me running up and down the stairs too quick/Humming Miami Vice theme music. (They didn't wanna be the cops.)
From "Intro" to the pair of "Grindin'" remixes that end the set, including a stop at "Comedy Central" (not a very fun place, as it turns out), Clipse brings gangland fantasies back down to street level. They're still fantasies (aren't they?), but at least they aren't cartoons. Will Pusha T and Malice hold it together when they don't have to worry about hustling for dollars? Lord willin'.