Big Ups: Clipping Pick Their Bandcamp Favorites

Clipping

“Right from the beginning, we always wanted to make a horror-themed record,” says Jonathan Snipes, a producer in the Los Angeles-based progressive noise-rap trio Clipping, alongside MC Daveed Diggs and fellow beatsmith Bill Hutson. The group’s third project for Sub Pop, There Existed an Addiction to Blood, updates the cult horrorcore hip-hop trend of the mid ‘90s in a thrilling and forward-thinking fashion. It’s a striking and deeply atmospheric record, powered by synth-based sonic experimentalism and grisly concept-focused writing that exudes a sinister and shadowy feel.

There Existed an Addiction to Blood adds to a stellar canon of work that kicked off with Clipping’s introductory midcity mixtape in 2013. “That one was really us learning how to be Clipping, and what we sounded like,” says Hutson, who helped mastermind the project’s metallic, glitch-afflicted beats. On the following year’s debut album, CLPPNG, the crew moved further towards what Hutson calls “dark and noise-tinged instrumentals.” The omission of the letter I in the album title represents the way Diggs avoids rhyming in the first person. Hutson maintains that if much of hip-hop involves MCs rapping about their own lives, Clipping’s music strives to be “a novel, not a memoir.” Case in point: 2016’s Splendor & Misery took shape as an Afrofuturist sci-fi adventure that explored an artificial intelligence world; 2017’s single “The Deep” inspired the author Rivers Solomon to expand the song’s environment into a novella of the same name.

Basing There Existed an Addiction to Blood around horrorcore and gory movies is a natural representation of Clipping’s influences and the way the trio approach writing songs. “Horrorcore is this forgotten and maligned subgenre of hip-hop that we’ve always had a tremendous amount of affection for,” says Hutson. “So much of Clipping is about referencing styles of hip-hop—almost all our songs were conceived as our take on a certain type of rap song—so this horror album was always going to happen.” Snipes adds, “We think of each of these songs as self-contained movie scores of vignettes in a specific genre.”

The original horrorcore movement that inspired Clipping’s latest album was spearheaded by RZA and Prince Paul’s Gravediggaz project, plus artists including Houston’s Ganksta N-I-P, Detroit’s Esham, and New York City’s Flatlinerz. ‘90s horrorcore lyrics were packed with macabre imagery and references to psychological disorders, satanism, and cannibalism; the gruesome verses were often relayed over willfully dank and grimey production. Clipping’s resurrection of the subgenre taps into the same lyrical themes—but this time Digg’s intense verses are backed by marauding waves of monstrous synths, sharp abrasive stabs of discordant noise, and snatches of field recordings that bring a chilling realism to There Existed an Addiction to Blood.

Key song “Run For Your Life” plays out like a frantic short movie. It co-stars Memphis MC La Chat, who used to roll with Three 6 Mafia and the Hypnotize Minds roster back in the ‘90s. “She’s hunting down Daveed and approaching and moving behind him in a car,” says Snipes. “Then in the third verse, we’re fully in the car with her.” To drum up the effect of the protagonist being chased to a bloody demise, Digg’s lyrics are surrounded by constantly shifting ambient noise: The sound of passing cars blasting music and dogs barking literally pulls the listener into the chilling scenario.

The same blend of adventurous production techniques and concept-heavy writing present on Clipping’s latest album also runs through Hutson and Snipes’s Bandcamp recommendations. Blasts of abstract hip-hop lyricism mix with innovative thematic albums and avant-garde film scores, adding up to a smart representation of Clipping’s advanced-level musical DNA.

Bill Hutson

Dax Pierson
Live In Oakland

I first saw Dax Pierson play around 2003, when he was in a group called Subtle that was an Anticon side project with Dose One and Jel. Dax was also the secret weapon of the Themselves project, which was also Dose and Jel, and on tour he’d play keys and finger drum on MPCs. Dax is this compelling, creative performer and composer. This tape came out on Ratskin and it’s from a more recent show—I might have even been at the show! His music is fascinating, almost uncategorizable left-field dance stuff that’s blending all these ideas.

John Wall
Hylic

I was really enamored of improvised music in the early ‘00s, and it’s a lot of what fueled my ravenous collector habit, which came from having to track down these obscure records that came from Japan and Germany and Switzerland and England, where they were only pressing a couple of hundred copies. John Wall is very careful as a computer music composer, and he’d spend years and years cutting up tiny pieces of improvised sounds and turning them into these totally austere and totally alien compositions. I was fascinated by the disparity between how much intention there was behind it and how alien the result sounds. Hylic almost sounds like there’s no human brain making logical choices that would compose this music—it feels like it’s naturally occurring in some way, like you’re listening to the background radiation of the solar system—but there’s also the most extreme version of authorship going into it.

billy woods
Hiding Places

I think billy woods is a fantastic example of this very abstract and angular and strange rapper but with these really strong connections to the history of New York rap. It’s almost like he’s from a different timeline where southern hip-hop didn’t take over the mainstream in the ‘00s and we kept going with Nas and Wu-Tang, and it’s developed into this new form. [Producer] Kenny Segal is a buddy—we’ve toured with him—and he would have been a youngster in the Project Blowed days but came out of the experimental L.A. hip-hop scene that produced Abstract Rude and Freestyle Fellowship and, later with the beatmakers, birthed the whole Low End Theory and Brainfeeder movement. This album is a New York and L.A. collab record that seems to perfectly synthesize two different types of left of center aesthetics, but feels completely natural in a way we wouldn’t have expected maybe 20 years ago.

Kevin Drumm
09082001 gtr​/​synth ‘solo’

I included this not because anyone needs me to tell them Kevin Drumm is a fuckin’ noise hero, but I wanted to include Drumm because I think what he’s doing is a really unique thing that Bandcamp can provide: A couple of months ago I bought Drumm’s entire discography for like $22, which was like a hundred or so releases! He puts out so much, and it’s all of such high quality. This specific recording is from my favorite period of his work in the early-2000s, but it wasn’t available [back then] until he started bypassing labels and physical copies and started putting everything up himself direct to the fans.

DEBBY FRIDAY
DEATH DRIVE

[The label] Deathbomb Arc put out some of the first Clipping stuff. I think of [founder] Brian Miller as A&Ring my listening habits because he’s out there finding new artists I wouldn’t come across and putting out their records. DEBBY FRIDAY completely blew me away—this release seems both out of nowhere and so fully formed. It’s just brilliant and sort of industrial hip-hop. It’s really like the best Skinny Puppy album we never got but with way better lyrics and content and performance. It’s so smart and dark—she’s a really great lyricist.

Jonathan Snipes

Missincinatti
remove not the ancient landmarks

Missincinatti was Jeremy Drake, Jessica Catron, and Corey Fogel, and they had this band for a short time in L.A. where they played these contemporary arrangements of sea shanties. They’re all incredible musicians, and their arrangements were always so off-kilter and smart. This album is only on Bandcamp, and it’s like a little monument to this band that I loved so much for a short time. One of my favorite things is arrangements of folk music that almost feel like critical theory about folk music and this project feels like it’s in this realm. I wish they were still around playing shows so I could go to them.

François-Eudes Chanfrault
Inside

I discovered François-Eudes Chanfrault when I saw the movie for which this is the score. Then, when I started looking into François’s music, I realized that I’d run across him in online nerdy computer music circles. He became one of my favorite composers, and I became obsessed with tracking his music down. The development of the Inside score is really slow and tasteful, and that’s hard to accomplish when working with film. I also score movies, and film music always feels like if the music’s following a picture. It wants to be fast and have abrupt changes—but François is someone who is somehow able to make these really long elegant cues that actually play against the action of the film in this really striking way. It’s probably the last score I’d expect anybody to write for that movie, and it hits exactly the right tone. His use of electronics and computers and his use of a chamber ensemble are perfectly matched.

Lauren Bousfield
Fire Songs

Lauren’s a really good friend, and this album’s only available on Bandcamp. She’s an incredible musician—an absolute genius. This is the album she released shortly after her house burned down and she lost all her possessions in the fire. It feels very personal. It’s easy to think of electronic and breakcore as just splattered breakbeats that feel mechanical and machine-based. But this one, with the context [of the backstory], feels very emotional, and almost makes me tear up when I hear it.

Bryce Miller
W A S P

Bryce Miller is someone I found through some Bandcamp journalism, which I read regularly. This album, which is based on the Stieg Larsson Millennium books, is elegant and precise. There’s a lot of this retro ’80s synthwave stuff flying around—I’ve made a fair bit of it myself—but somehow this really nailed the tone of feeling very contemporary, but also very ancient. It’s like what I wanted synth records in the ’80s to sound like at the time, but they never quite did. The sense of melody and structure and tension and release is really spot on. Bryce feels like a real composer in that realm.

Max Tundra
With Love To Mummy

I first heard Max Tundra on the double disc compilation Tigerbeat6 Inc. from like 2001. I was really into Aphex Twin and Squarepusher and Kid606 and Matmos, and I was trying to figure out who was doing weird electronic music and that comp came out and it ended up being a huge window into bands I’d never heard of. Max Tundra’s track [“The Bill”] sounded like a general MIDI soundtrack to a spy show that he’d recorded into his answering machine! I’ve been a lifelong fan of his since then, and this collection is, like, his teenage recordings—it’s really interesting to hear his old music. It’s charming and fun to listen to as a fan, and to note where his music took him after that. I suppose other people feel the same way about that Radiohead release.

-Philip Mlynar

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