I’m going to step outside of the norm a bit here because there’s a whole group of hip-hop artists using electronic music. Not only are these acts using electronic music, they’re experimenting and pushing the music forward in ways that the traditional electronic bands are not. Prime example? clipping. This experimental hip-hop group consists of Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes. They are doing things that nobody else is doing and it’s simply amazing. I urge you to watch all of the videos in this post. The visual side of clipping. is just as avant-garde as their music and very much part of the experience.
Their Midcity mixtape hit in 2013 and it was immediately clear that clipping. were not playing by conventional rules. Daveed’s lightning fast, street poet rhymes are overlaid with static, industrial noise, hypnotic synths, and everything else under the sun. It was a shot over the bow of the music industry that there was a new force to be reckoned with and clipping. were going to do things their way. It was exciting, refreshing, and gave me hope that there were still artists out there willing to take risks. I had no idea that they had so much more in their bag of tricks.
In 2014 the band released CLPPNG, and it pushed the envelope even farther than Midcity did. The door to the underground had been opened and clipping. had stepped through. The beats are undeniable, even when they’re using unconventional loops and samples you’d never expect. Daveed’s lyrical content forces you to look hard issues in the face while also having a sense of humor, never beating you over the brow, but also letting you know that everything isn’t as it seems. The production is air tight…William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes create a framework of sounds that shouldn’t work but they do exactly that. It works. CLPPNG was my favorite album of 2014 by a long shot.
Not willing to settle, clipping. somehow pushed themselves even farther with 2016’s Splendor and Misery. It tells a futuristic story of an enslaved man known only as Cargo #2331. It conveys an uncanny feeling of isolation, but there’s hope there…hope of change, hope of better things, and that the deepest dark will one day see light. Splendor and Misery is clipping. at their experimental best. Once you finish it you understand that you’ve just been part of something unique. It’s an experience…and that’s something missing from music these days. This isn’t an album you listen to a song or two and put it down. No. These songs as a whole are greater than if they are seen as individual tracks, which for me is the whole concept of the album. We are better as a people when we come together than if we isolate ourselves or others. Powerful stuff.