Bullets, bites and body parts
Listening to Clipping’s third full-length studio album, There Existed an Addiction to Blood, is reminiscent of getting hit in the face with a twenty-five-pound bag of uncut diamonds. It’s both extraordinarily special and utterly brutal. It is a form of abuse the average hip-hop head may not be accustomed to the first time around. However, the undeniable lyrical skill of frontman, Daveed Diggs, is enough to silence even the toughest critic. Diggs’ purposeful delivery and infallible rhyme structures act as the perfect vehicle for his wild and nightmarish imagination. Primarily surrounding the concepts of death, horror, blood, violence—and deep within it, a much-needed sense of self-reflection—Digg’s lyrical foundation ultimately drives this record forward through the discordant wreckage that provides the album’s rhythmic underpinning. From the album’s intro to its conclusion, each track brings listeners deeper within the gut-wrenchingly vivid universe that Diggs creates alongside producers and fellow group members, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes.
Aside from the heavily Deathgrips-influenced arsenal of distortions and white noise that Clipping fans have grown accustomed to over the course of their previous releases, Hutson and Snipes introduce bite-after-bite of eerie and unnerving sounds, ranging from the seemingly monotonous to the heavily industrial, to a sound that can truly only be described as bees in a seashell within the album’s second interlude, “Prophecy (Interlude).” Hutson and Snipes paint a blood-curdling backdrop to Digg’s spine-tingling fables, providing listeners with a truly immersive experience into the carnage filled madhouse that is There Existed an Addiction to Blood.
However, there are times at which this album can tend to feel a bit more like an art project than a full studio length album. Take, for example, the album’s culminating track “Piano Burning.” Look no further for fancy wordplay or metaphorical depth, because this appropriately titled track consists of exactly what its title states, a “piano burning”— and it’s a bit of a slow burn, clocking in at just over 18 minutes. While the energy and talent are definitely there, this project sometimes loses the essence of hip-hop and leans more toward the realm of the abstract noise music. Yet, with a runtime longer than that of their past two projects Face (2018) and Splendor & Misery (2016) combined, there is definitely room for experimentation.
What ultimately stands out most throughout the weighty and turbulent vibe of this album remains Diggs’ lyrical and rhythmic presentation. While tracks like “Nothing Is Safe,” “La Mada” and “Run for your Life” offer, what some might consider, a more traditional approach to hip-hop production, Hutson and Snipes incorporate very few actual ‘beats’ into this 15 track album. The primary source of rhythmic drive tends to stem from a mixture of drooling staticky tones, various soundbites and Digg’s own lyrical pacing. Through several tracks, including “Intro” and “He Dead,” Diggs proves that his stylistic approach to lyricism does not necessarily require a beat and instead showcases that you need nothing more than a Michael Myers-esque breathing snippet and a swelling pipe organ if the raps are indeed tight enough.
All in all, this album primarily acts as a showcase for Digg’s incredible storytelling capabilities and the group’s shared artistic vision of nihilism and destruction. Despite its flaws, this album is proof that genres do not have to define artists. Music is an art form, like any other, that welcomes creativity and innovation. So, while There Existed an Addiction to Blood may not be for everyone, it is a pool of warm blood that everyone should consider dipping a toe into.