A horrorcore album based on a ’70s vampire film, featuring spooky field recordings, homages to John Carpenter, and suspenseful instrumentals. This, released on the month of Halloween. There Existed an Addiction to Blood doesn’t exactly deal in subtleties then. Nonetheless, clipping. have achieved something quite brilliant with their latest record. Though it borrows multiple tropes of all things Halloween, the experimental hip-hop group don’t rely on gimmicks to shock its listeners. Everything is constructed with precision and skill. As a huge fan of early Eminem, it’s no surprise that I’m totally infatuated with what’s on display.
clipping. balance abstract experimentation with trap beats that give the music a sense of connection, coming together to form something that sounds wholly unique. There are two aspects to the record: the twisted, cinematic instrumentals created by William Hutson and Jonathon Snipes, and the wondrous wordplay of Daveed Diggs. Indeed, Diggs’ performances here will likely be the highlight for many listeners, but I think the overall thrill comes from how both elements come together to form something so distinctive. There’s little doubt that it’s the music itself that sets clipping. apart from other hip-hop acts.
There Existed an Addiction to Blood features some of my favourite production I’ve heard all year. “Run for Your Life” is one notable example, shrewdly using foley to set the scene, allowing Diggs to expertly narrate. It’s a dream to listen to on headphones, such is the use of stereo field. Immersing yourself within the atmosphere that clipping. construct, you allow yourself to feel like the lead role of a thrilling horror flick. Certainly, this is a record that is made to play from beginning to end, even having the audacity to end with the lengthy sound of a piano burning, lasting a whole 18 minutes. It’s strangely soothing, almost hypnotic, like ambient music for nihilists. I’m not sure There Existed an Addiction to Blood is a masterpiece, but I feel confident that it will go down as one of 2019’s most memorable musical moments.8 10
Favourite tracks // Club Down
La Mala Ordina
Run For Your Life
I had a strange time with this album. There’s no question it’s a quality product, but that’s something I understand rather than feel. Diggs’ flow is superb, the arrangements are dynamic and unusual, and the production is immaculate, serving up a kind of Twilight Zone horror spectacular. It’s been a rather cerebral year for hip hop, almost to the point of being nerdy. There Existed an Addiction to Blood often comes across more like a spoken work art piece than as an album. There’s a lot to like, but not a great deal to love.
In this case I do think this is largely a me problem rather than an album problem. clipping. asks a lot of its listeners, but then it’s hard to argue the group doesn’t earn some rapt attention. It’s a Dracula album — cool, calculating, and creepy. Be it the glitchy reprise of “He Dead” or the explosive collapse of “La Mada Ordina” there’s an enigmatic electricity to everything that goes on. I’m all for that. And now, in the spirit of the album’s closer, here is a fire for no reason.
Favourite tracks // He Dead
Nothing is Safe
La Mala Ordina
Reminiscent of the demonic glitching of You Won’t Get What you Want and Double Negative of last year, clipping.’s There Existed an Addiction to Blood has spent the past week taking my breath away and rattling around my skull. The album’s name – itself likely salvaged from the sparsely-populated folder titled ‘We Came as Roman band name ideas’ – notwithstanding, we have in this album a consistent string of exciting, chilling, and innovative experimental hip hop tracks devoid of cheese or pretence.
The album is enthralling in the same way that I imagine a vampire’s glamouring might be: warm, cold, hypnotic, enticing, and foreboding as all Hell. From track to track we’re treated to production that is at once dense and minimalist, focusing largely on atmosphere and leaving the frankly incendiary vocals to carry the momentum. There are plenty of hooks, simple and restrained, that differentiate each article, but the technicality of rapper Daveed Diggs qualifies it all with a mastery of intensity that resonates across the full runtime. The speed of his delivery, near always in the same, melancholic cadence, rises to challenge some of Eminem’s fastest flows, but these exercises in Big Dick Energy are themselves measured and deliberate. What Diggs hides away in emotiveness he makes up for in tempo variety and lyrical depth, dropping from Rap God levels of gatling gun bars to the slow, refined slam poetry he otherwise engages in.
The album’s interludes do a sound job of returning attention to the cinematic, and there’s a consistent feeling that you’re being carried through a haunted house by a rapper who needs to get things off his chest before you’re both set upon by something otherworldly. Through the deftness of Diggs’ delivery, incredibly detailed production and mixing, and a thematic core that thrums through every track, clipping. have delivered a deeply exciting brand of industrial hip hop-infused horrorcore that is difficult to leave alone.8 10
Favourite tracks // Nothing is Safe
All in Your Head