Lord Willin’ was the debut studio album by hip hop duo Clipse. The album was released on August 20, 2002 in the United States by Arista Records and Star Trak Entertainment. Recording sessions took place over a year, beginning in 2001. Production was handled by The NeptunesFollowing the shelving of their original debut studio album Exclusive Audio Footage by Elektra Records, long-time friends and collaborators The Neptunes signed the duo onto their record label Star Trak Entertainment. The Neptunes would go on to handle the production on Lord Willin’, with Pharrell Williams featuring on 6 different tracks, including the hit singles “Grindin'” and “When the Last Time”. Additional features include Ab Liva, Roscoe P. Goldchain, Faith Evans, Fabolous, Jadakiss and Styles P. The deluxe edition of the album contained 2 more tracks which were remixes of Grindin’.
The album debuted on number 4 on the Billboard 200 and number 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, selling 122,000 units in its 1st week of release. The album was well received by critics, and is considered one of the best hip hop albums of the 2000s.
After forming the duo in 1992, Clipse had trouble securing a record label contract. Childhood friend and producer Pharrell Williams helped them to secure a deal with Elektra Records in 1996. With help from The Neptunes, Clipse began recording material for their debut album Exclusive Audio Footage. They released their first single “The Funeral”, which helped gain fan interest but failed to make a significant commercial or chart impact. With “The Funeral” being regarded as a failure, Elektra Records shelved the album and released the duo. However, the promotional CDs of the album still exist.
In early 2001, Williams signed the duo to Arista Records through his recently established Star Trak imprint. With the backing of The Neptunes and the record label, Clipse proceeded to record the material for Lord Willin’.
Two promotional singles were released prior to the album. As the first single, “Grindin'” was released on May 14th.
The song became a summer Top 40 hit, reaching number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and charting for 20 weeks. It is regarded as one of Clipse’s best and most iconic songs. The second single, “When the Last Time” was released on July 30. It the duo’s highest and longest charting song, peaking on number 19 on the Hot 100 and staying on the chart for 21 weeks.
After the release of the album, two more singles were released off the album. “Ma, I Don’t Love Her” was released on December 3 and was a modest hit, peaking at number 86 on the Billboard Hot 100. A fourth single, Hot Damn was released on April 29, 2003. The song is titled as Cot Damn on the album, and it was released as a promotional single for The Neptunes compilation album Clones. It peaked at number 58 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
Lord Willin’ was met with positive reviews from music critics. M.F. DiBella of AllMusic, who gave it a 4 star rating out of 5 said “While the two MCs’ presence is invariably formidable on virtually all of the tracks, the Neptunes’ pop-ish turn in their beatwork doesn’t always do justice to the depths that the Clipse MCs wish to plunder”. Raymond Fiore of Entertainment Weekly stated ” On Lord Willin’, brothers Malice and Pusha T seize the moment with hustlers’ tales culled from Virginia’s mean streets, a raw complement to the music’s artsy, unrepentant grime.” Los Angeles Times Gave the album a 3 star out of 4 rating, stating that “The results are blissful, as the body-rocking, futuristic beats mesh magically with the clever, straightforward rapping of the two MCs, who inject sly humor and hard-core boasting into nearly every lyric.” USA Today also had a similar approach, awarding the album a 3.5 star rating out of 4.
Pitchfork placed Lord Willin’ at number 155 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s. Slant Magazine placed the album on their list of best albums of the 2000s at number 98. Complex included Lord Willin’ in their list of The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s.
In its first week of release, Lord Willin’ sold 122,000 units, debuting on Number 4 on the Billboard 200 and Number 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. It was certified Gold by the RIAA on October 1, 2002. The album continued to gradually sell after that, and as of December 2009, it has sold 959,000 copies according to Nielsen Soundscan
The Clipse debut album garnered fans from across the world and left ppl anxious to hear what else they had in store. Working with Pharrell gave them the push they needed and showed the world what was really going on in Virginia!!!
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