How Clipse got record labels' attention -- The sibling rap duo talks about their underground marketing method

After crashing onto the hip-hop scene in 2002 with their Neptunes-produced debut album, Lord Willin’ (it bowed at No. 4, spawned the smash ”Grindin’,” and went on to sell nearly a million copies), audacious Virginia sibling rap duo Clipse have been strangely silent, leaving fans wondering about the status of their much-delayed sophomore LP, Hell Hath No Fury. According to Pusha T, consolidation from last year’s Sony-BMG merger led to Clipse being ”swept to the left” amid marquee acts like Usher and OutKast. So they let loose two underground mixtapes earlier this year, We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 1 and 2. ”Going through this corporate drama, we had to do something therapeutic,” explains Pusha. Indeed, the pair should be feeling a bit better: Along with selling more than 50,000 copies and launching a palpable Internet buzz, Pusha says the tapes have bigwigs from record companies like Interscope, Atlantic, and Def Jam salivating. ”Seven or eight labels are calling my personal phone all the time,” adds the MC. The duo is still contractually obligated to Sony-BMG subsidiary Zomba, which wouldn’t comment on Fury’s holdup, but assured EW that they’re ”looking forward to [Hell Hath No Fury’s] 2006 release.” Fans should too, if they can believe Pusha’s guarantee that this batch of Neptunes-backed bangers will be worth the wait. Surveying his current hip-hop competition, he quips, ”Those guys are only working with like 12 colors of the Crayola box — we’ve got 64.”