Clipping. - There Existed an Addiction to Blood | Album Review
The horror genre has had quite the comeback these past couple years. From Pennywise terrorizing kids in IT to Jim Halpert confronting absolute silence in A Quiet Place, horror movies have been raking in millions of dollars while experiencing the most widespread critical acclaim the genre has seen in a long time. However, the horror movies that always stuck with me—and genuinely left me shook—were always the tales that were virtually indistinguishable from reality.
Remember Cannibal Holocaust? That movie basically founded the found-footage sub-genre for horror movies, and it left audiences terrified for long after the credits rolled. In fact, federal murder charges were brought against director Ruggero Deodato until he was able to prove that he had released a fictional film rather than a snuff film. My point being, the best horror movies are the ones that make you fearful of the phrase ‘life imitates art’; the ones that force you take a step back and think, “Could this really happen? Is this actually happening?”
The same goes for Clipping.’s new album, There Existed an Addiction to Blood. In what can only be described as one of the most creative albums of the year, experimental-rap trio Clipping.—comprised of lyricist Daveed Diggs and producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes—use harrowing imagery and unsettling production to paint a vivid image of the hopelessness one feels when the decision between life and death is no longer in their control.
At several points throughout the album, Diggs compares the African-American experience to a constant battle for survival, particularly against police brutality. The first single “Nothing is Safe” illustrates this through a reversal of the film Assault on Precinct 13, where the listener is taken on a journey through the perspective of a group attempting to make it out alive as police surround their house and attempt to rid the world of everyone inside. Diggs reminds the listener several times throughout the track that police brutality is a constant looming threat towards black people in America, and the policing system itself “truly doesn't give a f*** about the fear you feelin', it is here to make you understand that nothing is safe.” Later on in the tracklist on the song “Blood of the Fang”, Diggs uses his fiery flow and knowledgeable lyrics to discuss the violent history of racism that continues to persist in America, “Everybody wanna kill a movement 'fore the moment/ But they cannot kill what cannot die, there wasn't ever really an opponent/ For what they figured was only three-fifths human/ And they thought they could enslave by disconnecting from the truth.” Diggs uses this track to indicate that change can not come by civil discourse, but rather by a revolution—a literal fight for survival.
Other moments on the album have Clipping. utilizing their strong ties to the film industry—with Diggs being in numerous Hollywood films such as Ferdinand, Velvet Buzzsaw, and the criminally under-appreciated Blindspotting, and Snipes composing musical scores for many independent horror films—to produce, what feels like, a series of movie pitches that make for incredibly eerie concept tracks. The surprisingly upbeat “The Show” has Diggs detailing a dark-web show in which people are tortured on camera before a live audience; think of a live, interactive snuff film. Earlier on we get the track “Club Down”, which serves as, both, a story of gang related violence taking place outside of a club and also an allegory of the real-life consequences experienced behind the scenes of gansta rap music. With blood-curdling screams and dark synths laced throughout the track, it makes for one of the most unpleasant, yet astounding, listening experiences I’ve encountered all year.
The most creative track, though, comes in the form of the La Chat assisted “Run For Your Life”, which tells the story of a man literally running for his life. I know, on the surface this sounds like an extremely simple concept, and it is; however, the meticulously detailed storytelling and minimalist production elevates the material by placing you in the shoes of the victim. Something as simple as hiding in a large dumpster is made much more anxiety-inducing thanks to Diggs, “Big green dumpster to the right, color rusted, look like wine/ Lid is heavy, but it's creakin' open, that'll do just fine/ Bags of trash with bites took out, coffee grounds are spillin' down/ Duck and slam, the lid close, damn, that metal echo hella loud/ Quiet, sit, the plastic swish with every tiny move or twitch”. The most impressive element of this track though is what Snipes and Hutson are able to accomplish with such a minimalist beat. If you close your eyes and listen (with noise-cancelling headphones, of course) to the sounds of dogs barking and cars passing in the distance mixed with the ambient sounds of a street alley, it eerily resembles the auditory experience one would have if they were hiding like their life depended on it. Furthermore, the method in which cars pass by the alleyway with instrumentals matching the tempo at which Diggs is rapping, as to seamlessly transcend the story itself and allow Diggs to somehow rap over different production in the same song, is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
While this album displays some expert-level craftsmanship, There Existed an Addiction to Blood is not without its flaws; although they are very few and far between. As peaceful as the finale “Piano Burning” may be, it’s still 18 minutes of a piano being torched to ash and I don’t exactly see how it fits into any of the ideas put forth on the album. And while the interludes “Haunting” and “Possession” seem like nostalgic nods to older horror films such as Lake Mungo or The She-Creature, respectively, “Prophecy” is nothing more than background noise, which makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to figure out whether there’s any meaningful reason this interlude should be on the album.
Horror movies are a dime a dozen; genre-defining horror movies arrive once in a blue moon. I feel as though the majority of modern horror films tend to rely on cheap thrills and jump-scares as a means to deflect from the fact that there is very little occurring story-wise. Genre-defining horror films scare us because we can’t stop thinking about them. They stick with us. Not only can they make us question what we just witnessed, but they can also make us question reality itself. There Existed an Addiction to Blood is no different. Everything about this album is meticulously detailed, daringly creative, and sets a new standard for how the rap sub-genre of horrorcore should be done. No longer do we have the dark-humour laced throughout Gravediggaz’s earlier work. No longer do we have the goofy-gore themes that plagued acts like Insane Clown Posse. Clipping. is here to make us understand that we don’t need to watch horror movies to be scared; reality is scary enough as it is.