Clipping. – “Air ‘Em Out” (Singles Going Steady)

Clipping. show a strong grasp of sonic economy and judiciousness here, knowing exactly when to add an extra layer to the skeletal electronic beat, and when to pull back.

Dan Kok: After taking on the voice of a founding father, Daveed Diggs is back to laying his super technical flow on top of industrial, noisy beats. Clipping’s catchiest and most popularly appealing tracks from their previous album sounded like this one: A complex beat made in what sounds like a hardware store, an aggressive hook, and a series of jabs at society and/or hip-hop culture that everyone can agree aren’t too polarizing. But even on tracks like this where what he’s saying is perhaps a bit shallow, the way he says it makes it so engaging. Diggs’ writing can be very meaningful and resonant, but it can also just be fire. The latter is the case here. It’s a track you turn up and roll the windows down for and everyone needs that sometimes. [8/10]

Max Totsky: What a world we live in when the lead from the initial run of one the most successful Broadway musicals in history can retreat to focus on his noise-rap project. And while clipping. have always delivered noise-rap in the most literal sense, placing eagerly constructed battle-rap bars over college conservatory electronic-design beats that can consist solely of gunshots and alarm clocks, they have had a couple bangers in their years and “Air ‘Em Out” is one of them. It works because the beat is centered around unconventional samples (chimes, explosions, noise) but it takes conventional form, while many of their tracks just want you to marvel at how outlandish their source material is. Daveed Diggs is solid as usual, with a sharp flow and some fittingly unsettling imagery (“shoulda made the noose a little tighter cause there ain’t nobody dead just some motherfucking riders”), but clipping. still have not found the perfect balance between acting on their left-field potential and being listenable, as this track is a full embrace of the latter. [6/10]

Andrew Paschal: Clipping. shows a strong grasp of sonic economy and judiciousness here, knowing exactly when to add an extra layer to the skeletal electronic beat, and when to pull back. The interplay between the Daveed Diggs’ snarling verses and the ghastly production reminds me of other successful marriages between hip-hop and dark electronic music, thinking in particular of Danny Brown’s brilliant collaboration with Purity Ring. This is the type of track that gets better with each listen, as you come to anticipate and await each element as it arrives. [8/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Industrial Afrofuturism for the people, dropping slick references to authors like Octavia Butler and Ursula K. LeGuin over the course of Daveed Diggs’ brilliant lyrical flow; it’s no coincidence that he’s got all the gravity in the video. Stark beats range from small to thundering, each one significant in this futuristic dystopia. [8/10]

Michael Pementel: The instrumental is a generic hip-hop beat (solid sound to be fair), but that is all good and fine since Clipping claims all the attention right away with his lyricism. With plenty of “Oh damn!” moments, Clipping knows how to flip words around. While not anything all that deep, “Air ‘Em Out” is a fun track that is sure to get heads bobbing, and make systems bump. [7/10]

Scott Zuppardo: I recently saw a shirt at a show that said “Make SubPop Great Again”, I chuckled profusely because it is pretty dead on, statement wise. Well, Clipping., is clearly a pundit in the hip-hop game, futuristic production with super heady lyrics, and one third of the trio is the star of Broadway’s Hamilton. Maybe they can get the once fledgling label back to it’s immature glory days, instead of shops in main terminals of airports and such. Clipping. is their best bet, looking forward to hearing the debut long player. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: Daveed Diggs’ hip-hop outfit continues to impress and amaze with a great combination of experimental arrangements and skillful rhyming. Anyone who blindly stumbles upon Clipping. simply on the basis of Diggs’ Hamilton reputation will be a bit startled by the transition, but it’s a great place to start if you want to hear bold, intelligent hip-hop. [8/10]

SCORE: 7.57