Heems of Das Racist once joked “we kinda like rap-noise-pop”, but I didn’t really know if rap-noise-pop was actually a thing until I stumbled upon Clipping. It is hard to be on the fence with a group like this as the genres they fuse (harsh noise and hip-hop) tend to be styles which many people don’t ever seem to simultaneously touch. You could argue that Death Grips sort of did this during their incredibly prominent year in 2012, but Clipping does it in more straightforward fashion. If you isolated the rapping on Midcity you wouldn’t be able to tell that there is anything entirely out of the ordinary about this group, but the way Daveed Diggs’s vocals join together with Clipping’s noise make this record completely new and unworldly.
We’ll get to the rapping later, but the first thing which jumps out about Midcity is its beatless and unmelodic instrumentals. This music defies all notions of conventionalism as every single thing on here is built around noise. There are times where the noise is quiet and the rapping takes center stage, but the most arresting songs on here are home to the dominance of very abrasive sounds. Tracks like ‘bullshit’ and ‘guns.up’ stand out simply because they have relatively melodic vocal hooks paired together with bursts of static. The selling point of Midcity is the fact that Clipping can be incredibly catchy, often obscuring relatively accessible structures in their overflow of noise. This happens on ‘loud’, which has a chopped and screwed refrain so strong that you could imagine it being on an A$AP Rocky track, except this time it is put into a terrifically brash soundscape. The flows on here are also quite impressive (witness the speed and grit of Diggs on ‘intro’) and they hold enough ground to match up with the instrumentals. ‘killer’ and ‘get.it’ are the more rap-centric tracks on here, but on the former the most heart-stopping moment is when Diggs is interrupted by an ear-bursting squelch of sound.
The great thing about this record is that it isn’t really overwhelming or difficult to listen to. The sheer obscurity of its concept might be hard to understand at first, but once you get into it, Midcity can actually become quite a pleasant listen. Ultimately, Clipping are a hip hop act who also know how to use noise, but they push their roots to a very great sounding place making this record a challenging one, but one that is also great to observe.
High Points: ‘loud’, ‘get.it’, ‘bullshit’, ‘guns.up’, ‘killer’
Low Points: ‘story’
8/10 Recommended Music