What I said about “Young Boy” back in 2002 on this site:
“My favourite Neptunes production trick is their most retro- the explosive-horns-and-shouting thing you get here and to some extent on Beyonce’s ‘Work It Out’. It’s where their digital funk thing comes together best – they keep filling their tunes with zap-gun blips and dinky keyboards which are madly enjoyable but never quite top the first Kelis album, so the newer Neps directions you hear on the Clipse record are more rewarding. ‘Young Boy’ was my favourite Neptunes track this year, because the Clipse themselves are so laidback and contemptuous and because the hook is so coiled and compressed. (Plus their topics may be nasty but Pusha T and Malice are great storytellers – check Malice’s verse about his supertough Grandma!)“
OK, so what do I think about this now? I think Rich Harrison did the old school (not old school) thing better in the end, but there’s still something irresistibly nasty about what the Neptunes do to the sample on “Young Boy”, clipping it, making it impatient and dry, draining anything organic from it. As for Clipse, I’ve honestly not had the room in my life for their records beyond Lord Willin’: quite happy to believe they’re better but, I dunno, they’re such a heartless group I don’t want to spend that much more time with their stuff. But that’s also exactly why they’re brilliant (there’s surely never been a more aptly named rapper than Malice!) and their matter-of-fact needling callousness is still a jolt. Not a lot of music – be it metal or rap or whatever – actually manages to sound evil like Clipse’s does.