"The line between a Clipping. and Slayer gig is tighter than you'd think." Daveed Diggs' alt hip hop group challenge notions of heaviness at Roadburn Festival 2024

Clipping. show why hip hop's more extreme edges should be more embraced by the alternative scene

Clipping. Daveed Diggs Roadburn Festival 2024
(Image: © Paul Verhagen Photography)

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Hip hop might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to Roadburn Festival, but the Dutch event has quietly embraced the genre's more alternative, boundary-pushing elements in recent years. In that sense, Clipping. are a perfect booking for the festival, the trio - made up of rapper Daveed Diggs and producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes - delighting in a sense of abjection that lets them sit comfortably alongside previous Roadburn bookings like Moor Mother, Dälek and Backxwash. 

But while Clipping. share an affinity for massive, mechanised beats and liberal application of low-end, they boast something of a secret weapon in Diggs. A Tony-award winning actor, Diggs has an undeniable star quality that shines throughout the performance, bringing a sense of charisma and theatricality which elevates the group's two sets over the festival. 

“Lets do some scary shit,” Diggs declares and sure enough the group's first set - to a packed Main Stage on Thursday - kicks off with Nothing Is Safe. Built around a sample of John Carpenter's Halloween, the track is a perfect primer to the group's horrorcore sensibilities, explored directly elsewhere with the Candyman referencing Say The Name but ever-present, hackle-raising bass providing a springboard for Diggs' flow, which ranges from a steady trickle on tracks like Bout That to all-out rapid overflow on Taking Off

Where on record the group delight in lurking in the spaces between minimalist beats, live they create a constant sense of menace, low-end grumbling and lurching from shadows while beats feel like they grow ever-more claustrophobic. For all of their horror sensibilities, Clipping. also have massive hooks that seize the audience like a vice, tracks like Check The Lock and Shooter tapping into almost mainstream territories with rhythmic, . 

The group also have something special in mind for their Roadburn appearances. "Fair warning: this is going to fuck you up," Diggs teases, before introducing R&B singer Counterfeit Madison as a special guest, adding a whole new dimension to their sound. Appearing in both sets, Madison contributes a Nina Simone-like soulful, deep vocal to the set that provides an emotional, cathartic release against the hissing, clanging beats, first on All In Your Head (the 2019 track that first brought her together with the group), but then on subsequent songs across the set as she adds entirely new textures like gospel (Story 5), pop (Enlacing) and delta blues (Long Way Away). 

Though Madison guests in both sets, overlap is minimal. The pitch-black interior of The Terminal for the group's second appearance might be better suited for their artistic expression of darkness, but the second set arguably feels more like a party. Club Down is a dancefloor banger by Clipping. standards and the sight of members of crowd shouting "gangster shit" feels like a cultural coup that cements the alternative sphere's adoption of hip hop, There's still fangs to their delivery, however; Pain Everyday makes use of skittering electronica that feels like bugs buzzing across the skin, while Body For The Pile makes exceptional use of violent, dark imagery. 

In fully embracing lyrical narratives of violence, abject horror and societal decay, the line between a Clipping. and Slayer gig is tighter than you'd think. The frantic breakout of a song like Wriggle offers an altogether different vision of thrash, while the intense rhythmic pulse of Body & Blood could be employed just as effectively by anyone from Ministry to Swans, an implacable industrial press. Even in a weekend that presents the powerful doom intensity of Khanate, howling sludge-noise of Couch Slut and technical death metal prowess of Blood Incantation, Clipping. offer an alternative vision of extremity that proves heaviness isn't the purview of metal alone. 

Clipping. setlist Tilburg April 19 2024 (Roadburn Festival, Main Stage Set)

Nothing Is Safe
Taking Off
Bout That
Or Die
Inside Out
Air 'Em Out
Check The Lock
All In Your Head
Story 5
True Believer
Get Up
<new track>
Story 2

Clipping. setlist Tilburg April 20 2024 (Roadburn Festival, Terminal Stage set)

Club Down
La Mala Ordina
Pain Everyday
Baby Don't Sleep
Body For The Pile
Say The Name
All In Your Head
Long Way Away
True Believer
Body & Blood
The Show
Get Up
Blood Of The Fang

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.