clipping.

CLPPNG

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

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.

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