By: Tommy Walzer
“Clipping” is typically what happens when an audio amplifier is turned up to its limit. Perhaps not so ironically, that’s almost identical to the sound that characterizes Los Angeles experimental hip-hop trio clipping. Consisting of producers William Huston and Jonathan Snipes, and MC Daveed Diggs, the group blends physically harsh instrumentals with witty and provocative gangsta rap lyrics. Their beats are built around the frustrating nature of electronic devices; whether it be a radio crackling, TV alert tests ringing, or soundsystems overloading. The resulting ambiance is a hostile one—crunchy and industrial—that’s still strangely rousing.
At times it can actually be hard for the human ear to bear; take the track “get.it” for example, which features an extremely high frequency ring. Others, however, are equally as progressive without the pain. “Ends,” one of my personal favorites, is a dark sort of vaporwave cut that draws similarities with Death Grips’ production style. clipping could be compared to Death Grips in more general terms, but I feel as if they’re aiming to create their own legacy instead of building off that of a renowned experimental hip-hop group. In fact, a subtle Death Grips diss can be heard on “Ends,” in which Diggs raps, “Ya you gettin’ got but they don’t know that you aint got nothin’.”
Many of Diggs’ lyrics are fueled by anger and skepticism, but he’s able to fuse this with such an incredibly versatile flow and clever references that it’s hard not to get drawn in by his dour charisma. On “Taking Off,” he calls out “hipsters that rock Jeezy tees,” and “the Patron Saint Treyvon [Martin],” among a rapid-fire sociopolitical commentary tinged with pop culture references. Every clipping track is unconventionally artful and unique. They give you everything you’ve always wanted addressed in hip-hop, all over some of the weirdest beats you’ve ever heard. Their most recent album CLPPNG is available through Sub Pop Records.
Tommy is a junior from Highland Park, IL. He is currently studying communications, and hopes to one day turn his musically dictated life into a productive career. He believes that he can play drums and freestyle rap quite well, and can be seen performing in your friend’s basement on weekends. He sheds a tear every time he puts on his Joan Baez vinyl, and is currently searching for a friend he can discuss black metal with.