Review Summary: Some rapping over that cool static-y sound that your television makes.
Now that we have the obligatory name dropping out of the way; Clipping is an experimental hip-hop trio from California, composed of two noise-electronic producers; Rale and Captain Ahab and the MC for the group, Daveed Diggs. Despite the fact that the music that these artists make collaboratively sounds absolutely nothing like the aforementioned artist, they do get several comparisons between the band, but I digress.
The genre of music that the member’s play in has been interpreted as being called “industrial hip-hop”; combing elements of harsh noise, ferocious punk spirit, drone, and rapping to paint a bleak and disturbing picture for the listener. Those last two adjectives used are probably the best way to summarize the album; Bleak and disturbing.
Obviously the first things that one will notice about this album are the beats/production. The hook on the song “loud” describes the feel of this production perfectly; “I need my *** loud”. However, Clipping as a whole tends to prefer their sound a bit too loud, and can kind of go overboard with the style. Although after further listens they become a little more bearable, some of the beats on this album contain ear-piercing frequencies and sounds, and can turn a listener off to the album almost instantaneously. There’s also not much to cover up this sound either, while it can be insanely loud at various moments, the production is very minimal, making those loud and intense noises the only thing the listener hears besides the MC. That’s not to say that the noise is unorganized, and the only sound on the album. There are enjoyable moments on the production of the album, which contain more than just the static featured on most of the album. Tracks like “Five” do contain vocal samples, which work into the track very well. Unfortunately, samples other than sheer noise don’t appear very often on the album, but when they do appear, they don’t dismiss Clipping’s signature noise aesthetic.
Because of the way the production works, minimal beats followed by harsh noise, the rapping occurs during the minimal beats, and is hard to miss. That being said, lyrically, this album isn’t terribly impressive. But they’re not necessarily bad either; it really depends on the song. Several tracks such as “Bull***” and “Five” paint a very dark picture of drug culture and the nightmare-like party scene that occurs after everyone comes down off of their MDMA high. In these tracks, the lyrics match the static driven and schizophrenic production that cloaks the album. MC Daveed Diggs isn’t a bad MC himself either; he clearly proves his ability to perform on the opening track cleverly titled “Intro”. His flow is enjoyable to listen to and does a very good job working around the dysfunctional nature of the beat. The features on the album are on par with what Daveed Diggs is doing, with tracks like “get.it” featuring Kill Rogers and TiVO and “killer”, who also features Kill Rogers, doing a decent job in making sure their features are a worthwhile listen and deserve to be on a project this abstract.
But then there are lyrics that are just painfully tacky and really seem out of place with the album. Verses like “Real G-*** means don’t say nothing” on “bout.that”, could be interchanged with a line that could be found on almost any hip-hop song that’s being played on the radio. I also question their overuse of the word “swag” on several tracks and it makes me wonder if they’re using the word as a joke/ironically, as filler, or actually mean it. With these lyrics in mind, the ambition with the incredibly abstract beats falls apart slightly when placed behind lines like “If you know somebody, who know somebody, who know somebody say YEAH”. While sometimes I groan at these lines, I also sometimes can’t help myself from jamming along to swags on “get.it” or the aforementioned line on “bout.that”.
Sometimes I feel that I like the concept of this album a lot more than I actually like the content that the album contains. There are a handful of highlights on the album for me personally; tracks such as “Bull***” and “Guns Up” showcase the potential that this experimental genre of hip-hop has to offer. But other times, whether it is through the uneventful lyrics or the overbearing-but-minimal beats, I find it hard to completely love the album from start to finish. And speaking of finishing, I’m still not exactly sure what to make of the 11 minute closer for the album “Outro”, which contains a vocal sample of Daveed Diggs saying “Get Money” repeated over and over, eventually getting manipulated into obscurity.
I do genuinely look forward to what they have to offer next, and this is a great blueprint of an idea that I hope the band plays out in the future. It is also my hope for them to become wealthy off of this idea, so that they can indeed, “get money” so I don’t have to listen to it several hundred time over the course of their next album.