Gene Thornton bears his soul on changing rap names, splitting from music partnership with his brother, and the drunken night out that changed his life
Better known by his stage name Malice, Gene Thornton Jr. shocked fans when he announced the breakup of Hip Hop duo Clipse, formed with his brother Terrence "Pusha T" Thornton in 2010.
After chart topping collaborations with artists like Kanye West and Pharell Williams, many thought Gene was crazy to give up his lucrative Columbian records deal.
"It's not that I just decided to leave (rap). You won't get the same thing from Malice no more," Gene shares.
In the recently released documentary The End of Malice, Gene, under his new name No Malice, takes us on his journey to explain the mysterious career move and his complete lifestyle transformation.
Drugs, sex, women, money and fame were themes that once dominated Malice's rap lyrics, but Gene shares none of it really sat right with him.
"I remember talking to a friend of mine, and I told him: 'You don't feel guilty?' He said, 'You know, you are the only one who asks that question'," Gene explains in the documentary.
American singer and rapper Pharell Williams, good friend of both Malice and Pusha T, is featured in the documentary. He says No Malice has always been a "righteous person".
"I never told him this but, you could always see there was a part of him that tore whenever he did something he felt like deep down inside he wasn't sure was right," Pharell shares.
When asked about the reasons for his sense of guilt, Gene recalls an event much earlier in his life, when he and two friends were having a drunken night out in 1996.
He describes this incident in the opening chapter of his published autobiography, Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked, explaining that a woman approached them and started telling them about Jesus.
"Don't you know God has a plan for your life?" she said, and Gene recalls saying he couldn't see God using him for anything. "Some other time," he tried to tell her, thinking this was a decision that needed to be made sober. But the woman was insistent.
"You don't have some other time," she said. "You might die tonight!"
The three drunk boys joined hand-in-hand in prayer, confessing with their mouths and believing in their hearts Christ died for their sins on the cross and rose again on the third day.
"It was at that moment I realized how difficult it was to stand up straight without wobbling, drunk, with your eyes closed," Gene says.
In retrospect, he adds the drunken decision to give his life to Christ changed something in his heart that affected him the rest of his life.
"I am so certain if [that woman] didn't come and lead us to the Lord, the Spirit of God would not have been in me and I would have been able to fit in the way I wanted to," he admits.
"When I gave my life that day to Christ, He was serious about that. Doesn't matter that I forgot. He didn't forget."
It wasn't until 2009 Gene decided to stop what he was doing and truly live differently.
This decision came when Clipse's former manager, Anthony Gonzales, was jailed for 32 years on drug trafficking charges and the authorities were looking for associates.
He told his brother: "I'm not doing this anymore. I'm not rapping anymore, I'm not talking about what I've been talking about anymore, I'm not doing it anymore!"
"I was no longer able to talk about those kinds of things that I would talk about in the way I would talk about them," he explains.
"We loved some things, we celebrated some things, and we championed some things. But now I was seeing the ramifications."
Gene publicly shared this with his fans in lyrics from his 2013 No Malice album, Hear Ye Him, rapping, "Yeah, I march to the beat of a different drum. You can probably tell my speech, bear a different tongue..."
With a Twitter feed by the album's name, Gene publicly tweeted, "The crucifixion (of Jesus) simply put, goes as such: COME. TO THE END. OF YOURSELF.
"Do you know WHATEVER mistakes you've made, WHATEVER, regrets you have, WHATEVER guilt you feel, Jesus will have you whenever you ask? Yes!!!"
He says he doesn't want to do anything that brings death, destruction, and demise by promoting things that do not please God.
"It's not that my life is easier now or I found some kind of utopia. I just have purpose."
This new purpose has led to inspiration for a new album.
"I plan on releasing that in the summertime," Gene says enthusiastically. "Let the Dead Bury the Dead. Y'all get ready for that!"•