Album Review: clipping.’s Visions of Bodies Being Burned
by Groove Girl // PB & Jams
Clipping. is not just for people looking for a musical experience. They’re for those looking for a new, niche, and fervent state of mind. Their sound has been described as abrasive, and that’s not too far from true. In an interview with Purple Sneakers, front man Daveed Diggs even said, ‘I’m surprised anyone likes what we do to be honest with you [laughs]. It’s not the easiest listening in the world.”
A conglomeration of metallic clangs and factory-like noise paired with fast-paced rapping, Clipping.’s music goes beyond genre into something even deeper. It stands apart as a foreign entity in the hip hop scene, fueled by story and fizzling with raw energy. They’ve pioneered their own hip hop subgenre, one of experimental concept bliss.
The group consists of producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes with rapper Daveed Diggs. You may know Diggs from the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, where he plays both Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, which shot the group from obscurity in 2016. I’d consider the band a lot like Animal Collective in their execution of sound, but they’ve also been compared to the likes of Dr. Dre and Death Grips.
Their albums are concept pieces, genres in and of themselves, cohesive wholes forming stories from a universal chapter book. And although the three are rap fans at heart, I’d consider them to be more akin to writers of short films through their sound. Hutson even said of their album There Existed An Addiction to Blood, “At least a couple of songs on this new album started as movie pitches that we turned into songs. That were, like, ideas I had for screenplays.” That explains the almost Jordan Peele-like film aesthetic of their last two albums.
The fourth album by the group, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, was released on October 23rd. The 16-track release takes inspiration from horror films to create a terror-fueled collection of stories and sounds, some more “spooky campfire story” in nature, and others all too real. “Check the Lock” is an homage to Seagram’s “Sleepin in My Nikes,” about a drug lord’s descent into paranoid madness. “Say the Name” pays tribute to a collection of the trio’s favorite horror films. The producers really show off in this album. This is somewhat of a sequel to their first horrorcore inspired album, There Existed an Addiction to Blood, which was released last Halloween.
As Hutson said of the group’s usage of the horror genre, “I think the usefulness of horror in cinema, in literature, in everything… every moment in time gets the monster it deserves. It’s always some sort of representation of some anxiety within a culture.” And Clipping. does not shy away from the sometimes-social commentary sides of horror in their music, often using their platform to bring awareness to some issue of social justice or issue, as in their recently released track “Chapter 319” in honor of George Floyd.