‘Visions of Bodies Being Burned’ proves to be a worthy second act in Clipping.’s socio-political horrorcore diptych.
•• •• •• ••
“Visions of Bodies Being Burned: Enlacing & Pain Everyday ” – Clipping.
If the image you prefer of Daveed Diggs is of the grinning, jocular, fuzzy-haired Thomas Jefferson who made his world debut as a black man in the upbeat Hamilton musical back in 2016, a performance families everywhere can now enjoy together on Disney+ … Visions of Bodies Being Burned probably isn’t the album for you.
Diggs and the other two members of hip-hop trio Clipping. enter intimidating, growling mode on their fourth album, with songs whose titles make references to slasher flicks like Scream and Candyman, and whose actual content is considerably more horror movie-mode than even that. This isn’t a transition without precedent (only a year ago, the group’s third album, There Existed an Addiction to Blood, represented a drastic shift from “experimental hip-hop” to full-out “horrorcore rap”) but it’s still one that may be difficult to grasp for fans of Diggs’ heartwarming turn as Jefferson, not to mention his role as a kindly elementary school teacher in the movie Wonder, et. al.
What fans should be able to appreciate, though, is just how much of a memorable and unsettling listen this trio is able to pull off on their latest release. Now that a decade-plus has passed since William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes started producing music together as college roommates (with the former soon inviting his grade school friend Daveed onboard to the project), these guys have had plenty of time to develop their chemistry and establish their own distinct sound.
That sound comes across as powerfully as ever on Visions of Bodies Being Burned. There are times when outright static emerges on certain tracks, such as “Make Them Dead” and “Body for the Pile.” Even when that goes away, the remaining sound isn’t any less chaotic. Hutson and Snipes have sure have cooked up some bleak and bombastic production, one which purposefully harkens back to the hip-hop horrorcore genre of the 1990s that is referenced in the album’s title- the lyric ‘candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned‘ comes from the Geto Boys’ “awesome, complex display of paranoia” known as “Mind Playing Tricks On Me.”
On top of those perturbing instrumentals, MC Diggs does his part to bring da ruckus as well. His speed-raps go off the chain on plenty of occasions, with some Eminem-rivaling highlights coming on “Pain Everyday” and “Something Underneath”. He sure makes a motor-mouthed, rhythmic delight out of the lines ‘Raise up out the dirt, and the rain beat down, down, down… and the sun beat down, down, down… and beat in the ground, ground, ground.’ Even when he slows down a notch, Diggs still paints plenty of grim scenarios of impending doom in his lyrics: for instance, when he informs us helpless listeners, ‘You can’t run? You just a body for the pile. And you should probably take your last breath right about now.’
It’s the stuff of scary movies, alright. But it’s also far from a mindless splatter-fest. Clipping. have worked plenty of commentary into their horror, Jordan Peele-style, with tracks inspired by the racial lynchings that took place in America historically (“Pain Everyday”) as well as the police brutality that continues to occur sporadically today (“Bodies for the Pile”) and the country’s ever-problematic gun culture (“Make Them Dead.”) They’ve also proven they’ve got sharp ears: Visions of Bodies Being Burned makes room for a handful of dazzling guest appearances, most impressively Inglewood twins Cam & China, who offer a bold and feministic twist to the “final girl” trope on “‘96 Neve Campbell.” Like the best horror films, this is an album that proves that tapping into people’s real-life fears is more terrifying than any gratuitous amount of blood and gore could ever be.
Even with Halloween 2020 in the rear-view mirror, these “sixteen scary stories disguised as rap songs” are sure to have plenty of staying power, as a testament to the enduring cultural prominence of clipping. and frontman Daveed Diggs. Starring as an African-American Founding Father certainly isn’t the only option this guy has for totally shaking things up.
— — — —
📸 © Clipping.
Visions of Bodies Being Burned
an album by Clipping.