Experimental, noise, and industrial hip-hop has been around since the 1980’s, but it wasn’t until the start of this past decade when the trio, Death Grips, broke onto the scene and began setting the bar for the obscure subgenre of hip-hop. Other artists have tried their hand at recreating the style and instrumental prowess of Death Grips, yet few have really been able to create works that are unique enough to not be labeled as a “copycat”. One of those artists is clipping. , the Los Angeles, California experimental hip-hop trio featuring vocalist Daveed Diggs, and producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes. Since dropping their 2013 debut project, Midcity, the three have seen success both inside and outside of the group. Diggs won a Tony and Grammy for his work in the musical Hamilton, while the group’s 2016 project, Splendor & Misery, was nominated for a Hugo Award and was placed 30th on Pitchforks best industrial albums of all-time list.
There Existed an Addiction to Blood is the latest album from the group and the third to be released under Sub Pop Records. Leading up to the album we were given a taste of what was to come via the singles, Nothing is Safe, La Mala Ordina, and Blood of the Fang. All three established a clear horror movie theme that is used as the primary focal point of the concept album. Whether it’s the eerie instrumentals, horror movie-esque interludes, or blood curdling screams mixed with abrasive noise throughout, There Existed an Addiction to Blood takes an interesting perspective on the horrorcore genre of rap music but stays rooted in social awareness and commentary due to Diggs’ fantastic lyricism and writing capability. Though on the surface every song seems to be an over-exaggeration of violence for the sake of the horror theme, the stark realities of gang brutality and prejudice against people of color are channeled through Diggs’ lyrics when one decides to really sink their teeth into the analysis of each track.
As of when writing this review, I have listened to this album at least ten times in its entirety. The lyrics for all but the three singles have also not been released being that the radio station I work at received an early promotional copy of the album. Though all of my personal lyrical analysis was done solely through what I heard, almost every song covers the topic of both violence and racial discrimination against people of color. For those who have read my previous album reviews you probably know my primary musical interest is in instrumentals and production. In most cases lyrics are just the icing on the cake and will always come second. There Existed an Addiction to Blood is one of the few albums that has truly captured my attention lyrically, even to the degree that I value the lyrics as much as the production. This says a lot, being that the production on this album is some of the best of clipping.’s entire discography and any of their experimental contemporaries to date.
As much as I want to do an in-depth track-by-track review of each song, I personally don’t think I’ll truly be able to do the lyrics enough justice when giving my interpretation (I’ll leave that for my senior thesis). The horrific and noisy production combined with the lyrics of Diggs envelops the user in a world they may have never had a glimpse of. Not only is every track memorable with both lyrical meaning and production, but the different types of storytelling from tracks like, The Show, Story 7, and each interlude, do a fantastic job building the horrific themes and tension. When we reach the second to last track of the album, we are greeted with one of the most abrasive songs out of the fifteen. Attunement stabs the listener with a piercing and ear-wrenching noise that can only compare to the ending of the fifth track, La Mala Ordina.
Culminating from the tension and sense of unease built by the previous fourteen songs, we have the climactic track Piano Burning which is exactly as it sounds. This eighteen-minute ambient piece of a piano burning is a gorgeous juxtaposition of the previous tracks and allows the user to exhale as they recuperate from what they just heard prior. We hear wood smoldering, piano strings snapping, and what appear to be cicadas chirping. Since first listening to this album on October 9th, I have continuously come back to this song whenever I’m stressed out and need a breather. Though to some this final piece would appear as a letdown, I believe it does just the opposite and wraps the album up perfectly.
Since becoming a DJ and enveloping myself with the most music I’ve ever consumed in my life, this album is without a doubt the most compelling. When talking about what makes an album truly a masterpiece, I remember hearing someone describe it as an album that you learn/notice something new from upon each listen. There Existed an Addiction to Blood is one of those albums and truly a masterpiece.
There Existed an Addiction to Blood is set to release this Friday, October 18th, 2019.
Favorite Tracks: ALL