WRIGGLE by clipping.
Genre: Noise Rap
Favorite Tracks: “Back Up (featuring Antwon and Signor Benedick the Moor),” “Wriggle,” “Hot Fuck No Love (featuring Cakes da Killa and Maxi Wild)”
There’s an inherent problem any artist who presents themselves as “experimental” and “genre-defying” faces, namely falling into a formula of their own invention rather than following the formula of their predecessors. Los Angeles-based noise rap trio clipping have become notorious for their extreme, brutal production and lyrics that hyper-exaggerate and pervert hip hop and dance music conventions while remaining listenable. Unlike other artists who create experimental, strange music, clipping has always had a knack for crafting hooks and beats that make their music downright fun once the listener embraces its terrifying extremity. The real issue of following a group like clipping emerges when a certain amount of neural exhaustion occurs. When the harsh screeches of noise and the rat-a-tats of Daveed Diggs’s rhymes become normal, it’s hard to continue to feel shocked and provoked by anything the group does. This proves to be the most glaring obstruction holding back the group’s latest EP, WIGGLE.
It’s odd for a group that ostensibly considers itself boundary-pushing to start their third record exactly the same way they’ve started their previous two releases, but that’s exactly what clipping have chosen to do here. “Intro” is yet another acapella, intricate opening from Daveed Diggs with harsh noise crashing in at the very end of the track. It’s a perfectly admirable display of Diggs’ verbal dexterity, but it’s a gimmick that can get old like any other, particularly to anyone who’s followed the group over the past couple of years.
The second track, “Shooter,” follows a similar pattern of retreading the same ground clipping has already visited. The beat on this track is well-executed, but it’s such a hyper-exaggeration of Zeytoven-style trap production that it almost borders on parody. While the barrage of gunshot samples on the track is objectively intense, it’s nowhere near the grating aural assault clipping presented on MIDCITY and on sections of CLPPNG, and therefore is a little underwhelming.
“Back Up” presents the first truly enticing track on the EP, thanks in large part to the solid feature work by Antwon and Signor Benedick the Moor, whose voices keep the track feeling distinct and fresh, much the same way the features on CLPPNG vastly improved that album. It’s also the first time Huston and Snipes’ production feels truly epic and intimidating, and also like a decent deviation from the group’s previous work. “Hot Fuck No Love” works similarly well thanks to some truly provocative vocal samples from Maxi Wild and Cakes da Killa’s excellent guest verse.
“Wriggle” is fittingly the standout single from the EP, one of the catchiest songs they’ve ever released and arguably one of their best. With a chopped vocal sample from power electronics act Whitehouse kicking the track off, calling the track frantic would be an understatement. Like a lot of clipping’s work, the track’s narrator revels in a hyper-sexualized, hyper-drug-addled state of being while commanding the listener to reach similar states of absurd debauchery. The production is practically heart attack-inducing and perfectly supports Daveed’s lecherous hook: “wriggle like a fish, girl, wriggle like a snake, girl, wriggle like a worm, girl, wriggle like an eel.” As has come to be expected from clipping, they do a nice job flipping the context of the song by changing the gender of the listener, i.e., “wriggle like a fish, boy, wriggle like a snake, boy,” etc. Making Daveed’s narrator a sort of omnipresent, pansexual dominatrix character exerting his will on anyone willing to put his music in their ears. It’s messy, interesting stuff, but still falls into the same trappings of just sounding like another clipping track.
Yes, there are plenty of artists who deserve praise precisely because they make consistent records time and again, but clipping deserves to be examined and criticized differently because of how they present themselves. Make no mistake, clipping have a sound and a style that is refreshingly their own, and they continue to execute that same style on WRIGGLE. Even more than on their sophomore LP, however, clipping appears to have hit another stumbling block where their sound has not developed or grown in any demonstrable way. For a group that so clearly wants to deconstruct music and push sonic limitations, they would do much better to innovate and continue to push themselves. For anyone who has yet to hear clipping, this is a serviceable, smaller sampling of their work to dip their toes into. For fans, unfortunately, it may be best to wait until the group puts out a full-length, hopefully more inventive, release.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend