For a band that makes such dark, unsettling music, Clipping. are perhaps some of the nicest guys in rap. But then Clipping. aren’t your typical rap group and arguably defy such categorisation. Each album has seen them experiment with narrative approaches and their latest release is no different.
Cinematic and searingly potent, There Existed An Addiction To Blood is Clipping.’s horrorcore homage, taking its title from Sam Wayman’s Ganja & Hess, “a reference to this movie that we love and this horror that we’re really influenced by,” Jonathan Snipes explains. “Our first album, we made songs to learn what we sounded like and what we were doing, and we were always sort of like, ‘OK – after this, the obvious thing to do would be to make a horror album.”
Whilst this is their first specifically horror-focused record, the genre has a tangible and traceable influence throughout their discography. Addressing how horror frequently offers pertinent social commentary, and how this is innate to Clipping., Bill Hutson muses, “[We] try not to really harp on too much in the meta-commentary about it. 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.”
Considering further how horror plays on societal fears and how Clipping. do so within their music, he conveys, “The things that scare us often aren’t the things we should be proud scare us, right? We’re trying to control it from our perspective and say, ‘No, these are the monsters in our world right now’ and do so from our political perspective.”
Looking at this currently within film, he continues, “There’s a new trend with Jordan Peele, and It Follows and all these contemporary horror movies that everyone’s really driving home. That’s how they work, as opposed to when Saw was coming out – I think people were just anxious about the US’ foreign policy and torture. It was just very Bush-era values about who should be grateful for their life and who deserves life just floating out there. It didn’t feel like anyone was taking control of that narrative and saying ‘No – this is what we should be afraid of, not this.”
Clipping.’s narratives have always held a certain authority in the way they fully lure the listener into their unnerving, immersive soundscapes. “I score a lot of movies too and I figured out at some point that the job of movie music isn’t to tell people what to feel and what to think, but it’s there to tell an audience when to feel or when something’s important. I’ve come to think of music in those terms, because it’s so abstract you can’t really describe,” Snipes divulges, on listener expectations within music, rather than music saying, ‘Hey, this is what is important.’ It can say something important is happening right now,” he summarises.
Impressively, Clipping. don’t use ‘I’ or write in the first person, which is pretty ground-breaking for rap. “Starting Clipping. was all about constraining ourselves to certain techniques and rules,” Hutson explains. “The most common word in rap is ‘I’ and we have this sense of how all rap music is some version of augmented autobiography, that we’re this authenticity and this realness. And so the idea was ‘Does this still sound like rap if you sort of amputate that subjective centre and surround it with the same accoutrement of rap?’”
“Every moment in time gets the monster it deserves. It’s always some sort of representation of some anxiety within a culture.”
Their second record’s title, CLPPNG literally pinpoints this, and they laughingly recall how it took a good eight months of the record being out before anyone noticed. “We were making these really tough, mean, dark beats and, I don’t wanna just throw Daveed under the bus here, but Daveed is not a very dark, mean person,” Hutson details. “He’s a very friendly, nice guy, and so are we.”
“Well…” Snipes jokingly interjects, to which Hutson quips, “Well, we’re less nice than Daveed – that’s true.” Elaborating, he adds, “we had to this artifice up to say these are not true stories; we are revelling in inauthenticity. Which is the most anathema thing you can do with rap, to acknowledge that it’s all a big performance. Nobody is who they pretend to be in a rap song, ‘cause that’s ridiculous.”
“It’s like making Daveed a novelist,” Snipes contributes, “not a… memoirist.”
Hutson chimes in, concluding, “Every rapper is writing millions of little pieces and we’re trying to write Frankenstein, or something like that.”
Photo by Cristina Bercovitz.
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