Ah, Sub Pop Records… a Seattle-based label founded in the 1980s responsible for signing bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney among others in the grunge movement at that time. In later years, they signed acts like Fleet Foxes, Sleater-Kinney, Flight of the Conchords, Father John Misty, and if you noticed, while the label does mostly have alt-rock and indie-pop acts in their roster, there are some hip-hop acts there as well.
Some of these include The Evil Tambourines in 1999, Shabazz Palaces (who have already been discussed quite a bit on this site), and of course the subject of this review: clipping.
Clipping. is an experimental horrorcore hip-hop group formed in 2009 consisting of producers Jonathan Snipes (formerly 1/2 of Captain Ahab) & William Huston and rapper Daveed Diggs. Most know Diggs for being a part of the ever-popular musical Hamilton, playing Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. as well as last year’s underrated movie Blindspotting, which he wrote, produced, and starred in. The group has 2 studio albums made earlier in 2014 and 2016, respectively, and now we’re at their third album, There Existed an Addiction to Blood.
Having already described their style being horrorcore, the singles released have shown some promise with their darkly-tinted sound and intensely gruesome lyrical details. The first single, “Nothing is Safe,” has heavily John Carpenter-inspired production with Diggs describing cops raiding a trap house.
Windows boarded and sealed, doors are bolted and locked
Product cookin’ on pace, weaponry fully stocked
Bodies sleepin’ in shifts, other bodies keep watch
Bullets are for anybody caught runnin’ up in the spot, the pop, the pop
Drop the lights, so drop low, something shot from the trees
Went straight through the front door, homie drop to his knees
Blood seepin’ from his neck, as he struggle to breathe
Wooden floor is stained wet, gets soft the more that he bleeds, he leaves, believe
We also have “Blood of the Fang,” which offers this soulful gospel sound with lyrical themes of racial violent throughout history, especially within current times, plus in the music video you’ll see them operating on a gun like it’s a human being with body organs and everything, My favorite of the singles is definitely “La Mala Ordina,” and the more I listened to and read into it, the more I loved it. The song is how most rappers misunderstand the mafia and fronts like they’re a part of them, but then when they face the realities of them, they fall victim and bleed slowly to death. This explains the noise production near the end from harsh noise artist The Rita, and the guest rappers portraying the actual gang members liable to end your life are quite impressive as well, with underground emcees El Camino and Benny the Butcher in those roles. Yes, even though it sounds like half a clipping. song and half of something you expect from a Griselda joint, it’s still all good here.
“He Dead” as Ed Balloon on the chorus and the intro, telling you the dangers reminiscent of what an elderly man would tell you to stay away from or else ‘You Dead,’ and Daveed also spits out bars about them looking and running for you and you questioning why they’re always looking for you. “Club Down” has the horrifying feel of being shot at in the club with background screams and gunshots heard throughout, and the feeling of dread gets creative with “All in your Head,” where the pimp talk from Too $hort and Suga Free done by Robyn Hood get re-contextualized into an exorcism, which does lead into a gospel outro from Counterfeit Madison.
The majority of the album has the intensity of surviving the world we knowin here and the ending makes it more haunting, although the final track of the album, called “Piano Burning,” is literally sounds of a piano burning…. for 18 minutes. I get the symbolism and meaning of that final track as if it’s like you’re slowly dying as the piano burning. With that said, it wouldn’t be the track to go back to unless I did a full album listen, and the same can be said for the interludes with some 70s horror movie samples and a quiet instrumental interlude. As for Daveed’s rapping, he delivers on some excellent story-telling bars and fast-rapping, and thankfully the fast-rapping isn’t just a way to show off or just put filler bars for no reason. His verses are very meaty and detailed in terms of the stories and themes they convey.
It’s no question that this album is pretty damn impressive, with detailed horror story vibes and bars from Daveed Diggs, the production which always has something interesting working in there, and thehorror-filled tone that brings it all together. If you’re in the mood for some horrorcore hip-hop this Halloween season, then Clipping’s got you covered.
FINAL VERDICT: Buy it. There existed an fascination to Clipping and this album is bloody brilliant.
There Existed an Addiction to Blood is on Sub Pop Records and is available to get on CD, cassette, vinyl, digital download and on streaming services. You can also purchase it at their Bandcamp.