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Joe is a writer, bad musician, broadcasting type guy, and all around human. He writes things for The Hudsucker, and anywhere else that will publish him. And twitter @slothraps

Album Review: Clipping.’s “CLPPNG”

Source: Subpop records

Source: Subpop records

Clipping. is an interesting group. First off, they spell their name with a period at the end, which I love. They merge gangster rap and noise music into a surprisingly compatible mix. In a world where Death Grips is making music with Bjork, and El-P and Killer Mike are in a rap group, and even Kanye West is making music with noisy production, there seems to be more and more room for dark, experimental, and abrasive hip hop.

Clipping.’s first album, Midcity, was an album that took me a few listens to get it but once I did, I really got it. This new album CLPPNG took me two listens to get it. CLPPNG is a much more focused, polished, and listenable album. Their first single: “Work Work” wasn’t even all that noisy. I was almost disappointed until I spent some time on it. See, the main reason I think I liked Midcity so much was the fast rapping and the just cacophony of some of the songs, two things that this album has in much lower supply. But actually with CLPPNG I realized that beneath all of the flair of Midcity, there was a swath of captivating imagery.

Without actually having read all the lyrics that CLPPNG contains, I can say with confidence that rapper Daveed Diggs never says the word I. All of the songs are more like stories being told rather than personal accounts. This makes the songs feel rather objective. There really are no judgments about the lifestyles that are depicted in these songs. The listeners are sort of left to decide how they feel about the statements that are made on songs like “Or Die”. I appreciate the way these songs are delivered because I don’t have to judge whether or not these songs are real or not. Keeping it real just doesn’t seem to matter on this album, and because of that I don’t feel the need to roll my eyes at all the gun and money and drug talk. Diggs is just telling me things are happening but he’s not trying to convince me that he’s living them or that they are really happening.

Clipping.’s beats on CLPPNG are the most listenable that I have heard them release. The first song, “Intro”, and “Get Up” have pretty abrasive beats, but I don’t mind them. “Intro” is short and the rapid fire delivery of the lyrics makes the high pitched whine bearable throughout the two minute track. “Get Up” is a completely different matter: the beat is an alarm clock. Or it sounds like one. If you can stand it for long enough to listen to the chorus or pay attention to Diggs’ delivery then the song as a huge pay off. The chorus layers the pounding alarm clock sound into chords as Mariel Jacoda hauntingly sings. Diggs’ ability to syncopate his lyrics with the relentless beat is also very impressive, it can get dizzying at times, but like spinning around in the living room as a kid more than car sickness.

This album has a few missteps. The very last song, “William’s Mix”, is just a mess. I have only been able to listen to it once. I just simply don’t get it. The song just feels unfocused. “Tonight” (feat. Gangsta Boo) is a fantastic song until it stops and makes you think it ends before launching into another verse that feels like it belongs in another song. While I enjoy that there are far fewer headache inducing moments on CLPPNG than on Midcity, I almost have to wonder if there was some label pressure on the producers to make the album a little more accessible. I just expected a little more noise in my noise hop.

Source: Subpop Records

Over all I think this is a really fun album, it’s gritty and dark and rugged but above all, it’s different. It takes common gangster rap tropes and expands on them by making the rapper a story teller rather than a bragging swagging tough guy who is doing his best to make me believe everything he is saying. All of the things that normally make me roll my eyes at gangster rap have been removed without seeming like it’s trying to be better than gangster rap. It seems more like a respectful tribute to the lifestyle rather than an imitation.  I suggest you take a listen to this album. Noise music is definitely not for everyone, but it’s worth a listen. CLPPNG is well constructed and produced and executed, whether or not you can stand the aesthetic  is up to you. I challenge you to try it out, but I won’t blame you if you don’t like it.

For more information on clipping., visit their official website and follow them on Twitter. Their album, CLPPNG is now available on iTunes.

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