Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio Clipping (black rapper Daveed Diggs,
and white producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes)
debuted with the 14-song mixtape Midcity (2013) in the vein of
Death Grips' noise-hop.
Snipes had already scored soundtracks for films such as Bradford May's film Mask Of The Ninja (2008) and, together with Hutson, Rodney Ascher's documentary Room 237 (2012), while Diggs had released the solo cassette Small Things to a Giant (2012).
Their first official album together, CLPPNG (Sub Pop, 2014),
a shocking combination of lightning-speed rapping and an ear-splitting hiss in
which leads to the industrial noise and the energetic jumping rapping of Body & Blood
But the producers quickly get lazy and the soundtrack get increasingly
The lead single Work Work and Tonight are weak clownish duets with female rappers.
Get Up briefly returns to the supersonic rapping of the one-minute
Intro over the beat of a clock's alarm and next to the soulful crooning
of a female singer, and, just like Intro, it is followed by another industrial mayhen, Or Die.
There are also the accelerating reggae-rap of Story 2 and the goofy duet between a monster's voice and a children's choir that ends Dominoes.
The tensest rap is perhaps Ends, where the voice capitalizes on the harsh irregular drones, followed by a four-minute coda of old-fashioned musique concrete (Williams Mix).
All in all, it's a frustrating experience, jumping from cute ideas to tedious
filler. Trimmed down to six songs, it would have been a much more engaging EP.
Snipes also scored the soundtrack for Patrick Kennelly's horror movie Excess Flesh (2015) and released the solo album Starry Eyes (Waxwork, 2015).
Like its predecessor, Splendor & Misery (Sub Pop, 2016) begins with
a breathless one-minute rap, but this one is a rap sci-fi opera of sorts,
and mostly a spoken-word opera. There are lively musical moments (like the
frantic Wake Up and the surreal vaudeville of
A Better Place)
as well as oddly anti-rap moments (like the
sad church-style choirs of Long Way Away and
The singles Baby Don't Sleep and Air 'Em Out try to reconnect
with the hip-hop tradition but clearly this album cares little for
Hutson released the solo improvisations of Six or Seven Steps to the Door (2017) and
Snipes released the solo album The Nightmare (2018).
The elements of their horror-core were better balanced on
There Existed an Addiction to Blood (Sub Pop, 2019), that also trimmed
away the fluff.
More to the point, this album marked the moment when they stopped pretending
to be a hip-hop group. The minimal arrangements of the production duo are
only distantly related to classic hip-hop, and so be it
(with the notable exception of the militant hip-hop of Blood of the Fang).
Hence the bombastic synth crescendo of Nothing Is Safe,
the rarified musique concrete in Run for Your Life, the
industrial background of The Show, etc.
The album is a horror concept and the horror is matched with mental illness,
notably by the distorted electronic vibration and erratic drumming of La Mala Ordina and its coda of abrasive noise.
The "rapping" now veers towards a sort of
suspenseful kammerspiel, which in He Dead avails itself of a
mindbending noisescape and churchly organ drone, while in
All in Your Head (an anthemic chant colliding with wild distortion)
pushes beyond the kammerspiel and becomes the soundtrack of psychoanalytical therapy.
At best, in this album
Nine Inch Nails' industrial rock meets John Carpenter's soundtracks.
The album ends with an 18-minute version of
avantgarde composer Annea Lockwood's piece Piano Burning (1968):
the recording of the burning of a broken piano.
Clipping's Visions of Bodies Being Burned (2020) is again all about the atmosphere. The straightforward rapping
angst of '96 Neve Campbell is the anomaly here.
The album thrives at the exact opposite, in the senseless sound effects that
derail even the simplest of narrations.
Both Make Them Dead and Body For The Pile (an old song) begin with a discharge of power electronics and are littered with industrial noise.
Spastic beats shake Pain Everyday, rescued by a haunting synth melody.
The spare and tense Eaten Alive doesn't amount much musically until the two-minute outro of improvised dissonant guitar (Jeff Parker) and found percussion.
The producers close the album with an instrumental vignette,
Secret Piece, that pits chirping birds against a dark apocalyptic wind.
It's all about shaping the mood.
Check The Lock, the peak of cinematic atmosphere, is hip-hop music for a film noir of the 1950s.
The best rapping performances by Daveed Diggs come with the hypnotic Say the Name (which the producers hijack for a disorienting coda),
the zombie-like Enlacing (humanized by a magniloquent electronic refrain), and especially the hysterical interlude Something Underneath.
This album is the natural follow-up to
There Existed an Addiction to Blood, just a bit more predictable and
a bit less visceral.