Had Clipse made a concerted attempt to outstrip Hell Hath No Fury, Til the Casket Drops would have likely come out sounding like self-parody. The Thorntons' previous set was so cold, lean, and efficient, the product of the circumstances under which it was made, that it is impossible to imagine an album of identical makeup trumping it. So, for the most part, Pusha T and Malice approached their third album -- their first for Columbia -- as a reflection of where they were at when they recorded it. And while nine of its 13 tracks were produced by the Neptunes, who were operating at the top of their game throughout Hell Hath No Fury, the beats here are busier, fuller-sounding, and they mingle well with the productions that come from DJ Khalil and Sean C & LV. In order to be heard over these relatively large-scale productions, the Thorntons often break from the distanced ferocity for which they've been known and sound more human without dulling their blades. There's plenty of dazzling wordplay related to coke dealing and showing off, but the album carries a more redemptive tone and a higher level of self-awareness, put on display from the beginning of the opening "Freedom": "My pen's been the poison to family and friendships/Now is the time to mend shit, time to bring closure to/The clear conscience of Pusha is long overdue." Further evidence that they've turned a corner comes on "Champion": "I thought that life was a bad bitch, bad car/Life is with your kids, watching Madagascar." That they're able open up without coming off the least bit soft makes the album, in its own way, as much of a triumph as Hell Hath No Fury.