by Tom Loughney ’16
Clipping is a Los Angeles hip-hop trio comprised of William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes, and MC Daveed Diggs. Full admission: I’ve never heard their first record; however, their newest release – the vowel-deficient CLPPNG – has me excited to check out their other work.
Far and away, the boldest, most characteristic aspect of this album is the production’s industrial sensibilities. The instrumentation is fantastically rich – each song manages to express the raw energy of the genre, while simultaneously avoiding any unduly abrasive textures. This is especially impressive given the inherently harsh sound of many of the tools and items they sample.
Clipping’s more listenable interpretation of industrial hip-hop lends itself well to another one of the group’s achievements on this record – their successful pairing of diverse instrumentation with downright toe-tapping beats. Deep, booming bass often accompanies the many DRIVEN tempos on the LP, complimented rather well by whooshing noise or high-pitched, shrieking synths. This album’s sound is sexy, in a dangerous sort of way. Honestly, I find the whole thing rather alluring – many of their beats are pretty standard fare, rhythmically speaking; however, they are augmented by the sonic ingenuity of this record. The percussion appeals to the basic, instinctual rhythmic affinities that have made modern pop the dominant musical genre, while the unique sounds at play serve to cater to those who are looking for a little depth in their music. This extraordinarily effective combination is easily the album’s greatest strength.
Unfortunately, MC Diggs’ flow is as uninspired as this record’s songwriting is good. While he can spit rhymes at an impressive tempo, his delivery lacks the character that makes artists like Kendrick and Eminem standout KINGS of hip-hop. When a song crescendos, basses bumping and instrumentals blasting, Diggs delivers his lyrics in the same way he did during the verse, the bridge, the chorus, and nearly every other song on this LP. Rarely do we hear him exit the emotional intensity of slightly-above speaking levels. This is ultimately what I feel to be the great shame of this album – that such daring, interesting sounds are brought down by vocals that lack either the desire or the ability to match the dynamic range of the production. The attitude is there, but without the bite that it should have.
Though his delivery is sometimes disappointing, there are a lot of strengths to be found in Diggs’ lyrics. As is the enduring hip-hop trend, Diggs expresses varied portrayals of villain characters from song to song. In doing so, he creates a world populated by vividly unsavory people and situations, meshing well with the tormented and ominous quality of the instrumentation. Diggs’ narratives reflect the tone of this project in a way his vocals do not, and are consistently his most worthwhile contribution to the LP.
The features on this album do a fine job. They bring nothing noteworthy to the table, which is a little disappointing, but none of them shame themselves either. There are a fair amount of female features, which is a refreshing thing to hear in a largely male-dominated genre. Ultimately, most everyone’s presence on this record is inoffensive, and that’s perfectly alright with me.
Tracks of Note: Good and Bad
My personal favorite from this album is “Work Work” – its catchy, clever hook is fun, danceable, and sexy. This song has what is easily my favorite production on the entire album, utilizing reversed audio of what I postulate to be shattering porcelain; as well as high pitched, rattling percussion during the verse complimented by nicely sustained bass during the hook.
“Body and Blood” is an unstoppable powerhouse, with provocative lyrics, intense production, and a relentless beat. This song overflows with a confidence unmatched by any other song on this record. I would also highly recommend you check out the rather distinctive music video by clicking HERE.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have “Tonight,” which had me drawing comparisons to LMFAO – musically, melodically, and lyrically. For a while, I honestly expected them to put in a drop. The song caused me to experience mild flashbacks of camp dances. The lyrics are absolutely garbage – talking about getting too drunk, having a one night stand, and a few other uninteresting ideas that don’t belong on this record. The feature on this song, Gansta Boo, whines her way through her verse, talking about going to a Waffle House to have sex. In the hook, Diggs talks about leaving the bar at the last song of the night, saying that it’s “time to figure out who fucking tonight.” You know what, Daveed? I’m good, actually.
CLPPNG is good – really good. Even though I wasn’t completely taken with this project, Clipping surprised and impressed me with their unique sound. Sonically and, for the most part, thematically, there’s a lot to like on this record, and I have to say, it’s got me looking forward to their next release. Until then, check out their music below, and purchase it if you want to support the band.
 Titled Midcity
 A drill and an alarm clock, to name a few.
 Except for on the song “Tonight,” but we’ll get there in a bit.
 For those of you who’ve never been to a camp dance, imagine, if you will, a small, dark barn full of 100 kids – all of whom are undoubtedly sweating out of every single pore and pimple. Throw in some sexual tension, the complete inability to approach/converse with people they’re attracted to, and SONGS LIKE THIS, and you’ll have a decent picture of most junior high camp dances.
 Sorry, GB. That’s just what it sounds like.
 Sorry about this paragraph and that one footnote. That song makes me salty.