Platinum-selling rap duo the Clipse have inked a deal with Rick Rubin at Sony/Columbia Records. The move cements Columbia ‘s commitment to a growing urban music roster that includes global phenoms Beyoncé, Prince and Three 6 Mafia. Under the legendary auspices of Rubin, who personally sanctioned the deal, and the fittingly-named A&R rep Hip-Hop–think Jay-Z, Kanye West, —the Clipse are poised to deliver a lethal dose of their ironic, intoxicating mix of metaphor and message.

“I been a fan of the Clipse since I first heard them,” asserts Hip-Hop. “And I ain’t a fan of too many things. Every song they come with it, lyrically. They were on a real short list when I got to Sony; I was going all the way to make this happen. We trying to be more of an artist-friendly company, and focus on artists we really love. I liked them three years ago, I liked them yesterday, and I feel like they can be a group with a future.”

The Clipse, brothers Pusha T and Malice, first assaulted radio in 2002 with their platinum debut, Lord Willin’. In late 2006, they dropped the devilishly dark, critically vaunted Hell Hath No Fury. And all the while they stayed grindin’ on the mixtape circuit, churning out volumes of the heralded We Got It 4 Cheap series. But now, the takeover is official. Their multimillion-dollar, 5-year contract with Columbia is rare given the stingy state of the industry. And it accommodates not only forthcoming Clipse albums, but also solo efforts from each brother, and collective recordings with co-conspiratorial MCs Ab-Liva and Sandman. Together, the foursome comprises the Re-Up Gang. In fact, a Re-Up release is first on the slate, aimed for March ’08. The Clipse will follow come summer.

“There were several deals on the table, but only one label stepped up to the plate; that was Rick Rubin and Hip-Hop,” confirms group manager Tony Draper, who along with attorney Tim Mandelbaum structured the contract. “The Clipse are in a position now where you have to establish them with their own lane, give them the opportunity to build their own entity. Hip-Hop and Rick saw the movement before we ever sold a record for Sony. They didn’t make a single commitment, they made the whole commitment.”

That commitment, germinated from mutual respect, was consummated in the boardroom; the Re-Up Gang will enjoy 50/50 profit sharing with Columbia for the RE-UP GANG , and will retain ownership of their masters come the deal’s conclusion. And with business properly handled, the Clipse can focus on their art, not their arithmetic. From Malice: “The key thing about our music, and what I’m most proud of, is the integrity. We really sit down and try to come up with good verses that’ll provide some kind of food for thought. It’s passionate music—deep, heartfelt, and authentic to what we do. It’s very personal, and there’s a connection between us and our fans. If you like the Clipse, it’s because you’ve taken time to delve into what it is we do.”

Says Pusha T about the relationship with Sony: “The Clipse represent everything that we’ve all known Rick Rubin to represent: hip-hop in its purest form. To know that the head guy is a creative guy as well, that makes me feel good. I come from being surrounded by creativity. And I felt like in going forward, I wanted to be able to put out as much music as I wanted to. That was my goal. That’s been the one thing that’s hindered the Clipse. And Sony’s allowing us to do that.”

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