Daveed Diggs got his start in rap as a member of Boot Camp Clik alongside the likes of MF Doom and Big Boi. Now one of the stars of Hamilton, the musical that swept the Tony Awards this year, Diggs is back with his first studio album, Clipping. It’s a well-executed examination of the coming year, and every song is bursting with urgency.
For this year, Diggs’s musical production company Clever Bit Fest juxtaposes texts of poems sent to him — “About time I got off my little load/And the ol’ groove” — with beat recordings of blocky beats. By nightfall, his production crew, Clipping, scours the Web to find anything resembling a beat. They then mix this makeshift beat with a ringtone of ambient sounds, textures, choir-like voices and others. At 3:02 a.m., he sends a text saying, “CD unit getting made.”
“I found a black marker and just let it be,” Diggs told me of when Clipping was ready to come out. He was still recording at the time, adding vocals to street rapper Jake One.
The album includes gems like “Keyloma” — “Night time, what not staring long / I come to mind now, ya’ll better watch your stance,” Diggs sings to his words of pure misanthropy. “Cursed to wait for the shining-like light/Devil’s present time are worth seeing/When will I see your face again, you ruined my plans.”
The songs “B@ckin Her,” which samples King Charles’ “The Vulture,” and “Slaves,” brimming with howls and bluesy delivery, follow a similar formula.
“In an imperfect world, we must keep repeating these mantras,” Diggs says of his rhymes in “Slaves.”