Clipping – There Existed an Addiction to Blood
Between the striking imagery, lyrical dexterity, rap chops and epic production, it takes multiple listens to get to the heart of this record, each one well worth your time
Clipping are only the second musical entity, after Jefferson Airplane, to be nominated for a Hugo Award (the most prestigious sci-fi literature award), for both 2016's Splendor & Misery, as well as their 2017 standalone song The Deep. However, it might be their fourth album, There Existed an Addiction to Blood, that finally clinches them the prize.
Daveed Diggs' razor-tinted flows are back with a vengeance, a singular voice in rap that would undoubtedly overwhelm most of the beats that populate the top 40, so it's a good thing that he's paired up with the outstanding, and equally metallic, production of William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes. The pair know when to pummel and where to pare back, making sure atmosphere and mood don't come at the expense of intelligibility (take note, dälek).
Sci-fi imagery abounds through the rapid-fire morbidity of Nothing Is Safe, Blood of the Fang and Story 7, while Club Down is a wild send-up of the 'shut the club down' trope so often lazily employed in hip-hop, adding some graphic, dystopian malevolence atop a screamy industrial background.
The production dovetails perfectly with the dark subject matter, like on La Mala Ordina as it gets grainier and grainier through each verse, eventually collapsing into raw static. The Show lets the beats build up, then fade away, threatening and receding before they inevitably overwhelm. Even the interludes augment the feeling of ominous dread, sampling horror clichés and maintaining an ever-present scratchy rain. Oh, and the final track is 18 minutes of a piano literally burning, which manages to be both relaxing and eerie in its resolute crackles and abrupt breakages.
There are a selection of decent guest turns, especially Benny the Butcher, but they struggle to outshine Diggs, whose lithe storytelling skills are on par with greats like Slick Rick or Ghostface Killah, and delivered with an effortless speed and intensity. Between the striking imagery, lyrical dexterity, rap chops and epic production, it's near impossible to take everything in in one listen – it takes multiple listens to get to the heart of this record, each one well worth your time.
Listen to: Nothing Is Safe, Club Down, Blood of the Fan