2017 SOTY Write-Up: The Deep – clipping.

Listen: YouTube

clipping. is perhaps hip-hop’s most underrated group working today. The trio consists of MC Daveed Diggs, of Broadway-hit Hamilton fame, and producers William Hutson and Jonathon Snipes. The combined talent of these three is astronomical, and “The Deep” is another insert in their oeuvre as evidence. Hutson and Snipes, two masters of sound, take direct influence from a 90’s Detroit techno duo named Drexciya for the track’s production. The song is broken into four movements each filled with watery textures and bouncy drums. Transitioning from one section to the next are twangy bells and a pitch-shifting eerie and atmospheric whine that effectively create an ominous effect. Every new segment increases the tempo significantly and with it the track’s tension. Daveed rides this unorthodox beat purposefully, matching his flow with the relative intensity of every progression. By the fourth and most intense section, Diggs is showcasing a complete mastery of technical rap over a danceable techno-infused hip-hop beat. The development of the beat is not only interesting musically, but also as a tool for Daveed’s story telling. Diggs uses the increasing tension of each evolution to tell the story of an abused underwater species usurping their negligent ancestors. He handles the topic as an expert storyteller using powerful imagery in, “Oil slick upon the sleeper,” and “when y’all swim up out yo mama while yo mama was asleep.” The stimulating plot develops intriguingly as each section looks to enliven and unify the underwater people against their oppressors until finally arriving to the climax where they do. The experimental beat with engaging progression matched with Daveed’s enticing flow and grabbing storytelling create what is another classic example of the group’s multifaceted capacity for songwriting.

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