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CD Review: Clipse 

Til the Casket Drops (Columbia)

The Thornton siblings return with the follow-up to 2006's critically acclaimed second disc, Hell Hath No Fury, but fail to match its fire. Blame for the wait — after their last long-delayed album — may lie with the meticulously crafted sound and a raft of guest appearances. Overall, it's a mixed bag. Jettisoning the grim, minimalist tracks of Hell Hath No Fury, Til the Casket Drops cops a richer tone and less drug-oriented rhymes, perhaps an acknowledgement of Fury's disappointing sales. While still largely scored by the Neptunes, other producers make appearances, notably DJ Khalil who helms the two best tracks, "Kinda Like a Big Deal," featuring Kanye West, and the reggae-fied highlight "There Was a Murder." The former is a bling-obsessed paean to how Clipse "blow a hundred thou in a recession with no second guessing," and the latter is a supple musical warning to snitches. The club-geared jam "All Eyes on Me" and the R&B-flavored "I'm Good" don't register more than a snore, and the tired braggadocio of "Popular Demand (Popeyes)" can't be rescued by the duo's nimble rhymes or guest shots by Cam'ron and Pharrell. Short on freshness and long on frill, it lacks enough thrills to engender any chills. — Chris Parker

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