Over the past six years or so, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio and JOVM mainstay act Clipping.– production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs. Interestingly, last year’s critically applauded There Existed and Addiction to Blood found the acclaimed hip-hop trio interpreting a hip-hop splinter sect through their own singular lens — horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre that flourished for a handful of years around the mid 1990s. Additionally, the album is also partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — with the title derived from the film.
With horror films, sequels are perfunctory and perhaps even obligatory. As the insufferable film bro Randy explains in Scream 2, “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate—more blood, more gore. Carnage candy. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.” Clipping.’s highly-anticipated follow-up to There Existed an Addition to Blood, Visions of Bodies Getting Burned officially dropped today. And although many may see VoBGB as a sequel, in reality, it’s a the second half of a planned diptych. But hewing closely to the sequel tradition, the album finds the acclaimed JOVM mainstays returning with an even higher body count, bloodier, more elaborate, gorier kills and as always, unrelenting monsters that just won’t ever stay dead.
Interestingly enough, in the years following ffSplendor & Misery, the trio wound up being incredibly prolific, writing and recording too may songs for just one album. Before the release of There Existed an Addition to Blood, Clipping. and Sub Pop divided the material into two albums, specifically designed to be released only months apart. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic managed to forced the cancellation of multiple tours and sadly, the delayed release of the act’s latest album. The 16 song album draws from an eclectic array of sources including Ernest Dickerson, Clive Barker and Shirley Jackson as much as it does from Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Brotha Lynch Hung. Developing their own abrasive, angular and messy interpretation of horrorcore, the members of Clipping. have fully intended to lovingly twist familiar tropes to fit their own politics and thematic concerns — in particular: fear, the absurd, the uncanny and the struggle for an antiracist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonialist world.
So far, I’ve written about three of VoBBB‘s singles:
“Say The Name:.” Featuring a heavily chopped up and screwed sample of Scarface’s evocative lyric from “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” — “Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned,” the song is centered around wobbling, tweeter and woofer rocking low-end, industrial clang and clatter, arpeggiated synths and Diggs’ tongue twisting flow, full of surrealistically gore-filled lyrics full of imagery demons and hell spawn in the flames, bullet hole ridden bodies and more. To me, the song evokes the slow-burning horror of watching a man being snuffed out in public with replays form different angles and commentary as if it were a key play in deciding a big ball game.
“96 Neve Campbell:” Written as a tribute to the self-aware “final girl” character of the post-slasher film cycle that features a vicious and swaggering guest spot from Inglewood’s Cam & China, The trio of ridiculously talented emcees envisions the movie’s final girl — or inn this case final girls — preemptively striking the slasher and fucking his ass up before he could get them. Simply put, the track is fire. featuring criminally under-appreciated talent that you should know. “We’ve been fans of theirs for a long time, going back to the days when they were in the group Pink Dollaz,” Clipping.’s Daveed Diggs says of their collaboration with Cam & China. “Cam and China continue to be some of the most consistent and under-appreciated lyricists on the West Coast. We’ve been trying to do a song with them for a while now, and this one felt like a perfect fit. They bodied it.”
“Pain Everyday:” Centered around a menacingly glitchy production featuring industrial clang and clatter, stuttering beats, atmospheric synths and electronic voice phenomena (EVP) recordings said to be the voices of restless spirits — presumably those who maybe have died horrifyingly brutal deaths. Thematically, the song envisions a call-to-arms for the dead victims of lynching and extrajudicial police killings to haunt and torture the descendants of their murderers both here and in the afterlife. “This song was one of the most challenging to write because it’s the first time we’ve done a track entirely in ⅞, which, it turns out, is kind of a mind fuck,” Clipping.’s Daveed Diggs explains. “I love how it came out because it’s in this odd time signature but the flow still feels natural, like rap is supposed to.”
Visions of Bodies Being Burned fourth and latest single “Enlacing” is a menacing take on trap featuring the prerequisite stuttering beats, distorted vocals that seem to come out from the opened gates of Hell., brief bursts of twinkling synths, droning electronics and tweeter and woofer rocking end paired with Diggs’ alternating between his imitable rapid-fire flow, a spoken word flow and sung choruses. Let this track be a reminder of how Clipping. is actively pushing the sound of hip-hop in new and weirder directions while remaining remarkably accessible.
Clipping. recently released a C Prinz-produced double video for “Enlacing and “Pain Everyday.” featuring frontman Daveed Diggs, the visual is a gorgeously shot and incredibly vivid fever dream that pulsates with menace and unease. “This piece explores bodies and impact and gravity and sensation in a way that aims to overwhelm you as viscerally as our current world reality does mentally, but through the lens of the embodied experience,” C Prinz explains. “We are surrounded by surface level, fake realities through social media and politics. I just wanted to create a piece that serves as a momentary break from the superficial culture we live in and fantasize on a more genuine, honest reality in the effort it takes to survive right now.”