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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 18, 2019 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 6, 2014 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 19, 2018 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 19, 2018 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 6, 2014 | Sub Pop Records

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Innovations in hip-hop have a long history of tending toward abrasive sounds, from the call-to-arms sirens of Bomb Squad's production on early Public Enemy albums to the pseudo-industrial squall of Kanye West's controversially caustic Yeezus album. L.A. trio clipping takes this fondness for harsh sounds to the next level with CLPPNG, a strange hybrid of noise frequencies, brutally dark beats, and MC Daveed Diggs' unhinged, often ugly lyrical flow. The group began as a recording project between producers Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson, reworking commercial hip-hop songs by laying a cappella vocal tracks over new beats of their own creation made up of punishing power electronics and other gruesome noise tones -- an unexpected juxtaposition, and one that runs through a wide range of lawless sounds on the 14 sinister tracks that make up CLPPNG. A minute-long introduction track sounds like little more than Diggs rapping over a beatless din of Merzbow-like feedback, which runs immediately into the horror-rap lyrics and distorted bass monotony of "Body & Blood." Ex-Three 6 Mafia member Gangsta Boo shows up for a cameo verse on "Tonight," a minimal, electro-tinged beat serving as a backdrop for Diggs' portrait of last-call desperation. It's one of the most successful of the album's many experiments, at times so spare that little more than vocals and a cold keyboard loop occupy any space. "Get Up" is based around the easily recognizable buzz of an early-morning alarm clock, growing instantly grating despite the lyrics and musical accompaniment that show up. Much of the album can't be saved by Diggs' lyrical talent, which sounds like it could have been extracted from more traditional street hip-hop tracks and pasted on top of these antagonistic, sometimes unlistenable beats. Clipping clearly grows out of a shared love of hip-hop, with smart, sometimes cheeky references to greats of the genre as well as more obscure artists popping up every other song. The calculated glitchiness, raw noise, and unfinished composition of much of the music, however, does little to further innovations in hip-hop production or even cultivate interesting noise textures or add much to the "difficult music" conversation. Instead, the production on CLPPNG sounds all too often mismatched or disconnected with Diggs' lyrical performances. At its worst, the album feels amateurish and like a half-finished bedroom experiment that should have remained unshared, as with the tired skipping-CD noise experiments and uninspired sound collage moments that end the album. Even when the songs sound coherent and have some interesting moments, the jarring beats still come on as incessantly aggressive with no actual power, inspiration, or deeper statement driving the noise. ~ Fred Thomas
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 19, 2018 | Sub Pop Records

Los Angeles-based noise-rap trio clipping. have come a remarkably long way since Jonathan Snipes (formerly of irony-killing duo Captain Ahab) and William Hutson (aka noise-drone artist Rale) established it as a remix project in 2009. Since the addition of MC Daveed Diggs (also of True Neutral Crew, along with Signor Benedick the Moor and Deathbomb Arc founder Brian Kinsman), the group self-released 2013's well-received mixtape Midcity before signing with Sub Pop for their full-length debut, 2014's CLPPNG. Studio wizard Snipes has since written soundtracks for numerous films, Hutson completed a Ph.D. in theater and performance studies, and Diggs achieved fame as an original cast member of the hit musical Hamilton. While CLPPNG (so titled because its lyrics lacked the most common word in hip-hop, "I") subverted mainstream hip-hop conventions and was equally influenced by Three 6 Mafia and academic electro-acoustic composition, Splendor & Misery is exponentially more ambitious. The album is essentially an opera about the only survivor of a slave revolt, who is trapped on a spaceship traveling throughout the universe. The story can be likened to an outer space relative of Drexciya's underwater mythology, and it draws equally from 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as the brilliant Afrofuturist science fiction author Octavia E. Butler, even going so far as to reference characters from her novels in the songs' lyrics ("Air 'Em Out" mentions the Oankali alien race from the Xenogenesis trilogy, while "Baby Don't Sleep" namechecks the mutants known as Clayarks from the Patternist series). While CLPPNG and subsequent outtakes EP Wriggle were more explicitly club-influenced, the sound design on Splendor & Misery is far more experimental and less rhythmic; at times it sounds like Diggs' complex, hyper-literate raps are being accompanied by industrial drone artists like :zoviet*france: or Lustmord. The beats echo the background noises of the spaceship, replicating clanking and whirring noises rather than resembling anything danceable. Only on a few moments do Snipes and Hutson interject Whitehouse-like power electronics and harsh noise. As dystopian as the album seems, there's an undeniable hopefulness present. A handful of tracks feature either gospel-inspired vocals ("True Believer" even quotes the 19th century slave song "I Know When I'm Going Home") or splintered church organ tones. Ultimately, the protagonist ends up celebrating an escape from society and finding freedom in his isolation. Devastating yet optimistic, Splendor & Misery is a stunning leap forward for clipping., and one of the most impressive albums of the year. ~ Paul Simpson
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released May 25, 2018 | Deathbomb Arc

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Los Angeles trio clipping. began as an exercise in extremity, with producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes merging pre-existing rap a capellas to new instrumentals of their own making. These "beats" had more in common with harsh noise, industrial, and power electronics than they did traditional rap production, and the unlikely pairing resulted in some of the more disorienting and aggressive sounds to ever fall adjacent to rap. When emcee Daveed Diggs joined the fold, clipping. took on a new life, Diggs' original rhymes more powerful and intense than any stock verses the producers had sampled in the project's earliest days. One of clipping.'s earliest releases was a three-song cassette in 2012. Presented here as Face (so named after the first song on what was an untitled tape), those three songs are remastered and filled out by remixes and other auxiliary material. At just two minutes long, "Face" builds from spare to raging, Diggs' staccato flow the only constant as the beat grows into a wall of sharp noise. The other two tracks from the original cassette, "Studio Freestyle 01" and "Block," are different shades of the same. The rapping sounds almost barely connected to the instrumentals, which sound less like rhythms or music and more like shrapnel left behind from when those things exploded violently. Challenging and confrontational has been clipping.'s style from the start, and these tracks are among the most aggressive of their catalog. By comparison, the four remixes of "Face" that fill out the project can't help but sound overly musical and tame. Youth Code's take on the song renders it an eerie but straightforward synthwave tune while Flanch's detuned synths and quick shifts in tempo and pace aim for the same flustering energy of the original. JPEGMAFIA turns in a brief, moody remix of the song, and Signor Benedick the Moor takes a sound collage approach. Along with an a capella version of "Face," there's also a clipping. remix of Foot Village's "This Song Is a Drug Deal" that sounds like a malfunctioning video game melting on the pavement. Not merely a rap group with generic noise elements sprinkled into their production, clipping. are a different wing of extreme music seeking to dismantle whatever they touch. Face is a prime example of how committed to their abrasive mission they were even from the beginning. ~ Fred Thomas

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 14, 2019 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released February 11, 2014 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 18, 2018 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 3, 2019 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - To be released November 29, 2019 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 5, 2019 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 12, 2019 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 12, 2019 | Sub Pop Records

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 11, 2014 | Sub Pop Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 19, 2018 | Sub Pop Records