Work Work

Album: CLPPNG (2014)
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Songfacts®:

  • "Work Work" is the lead single from Clipping.'s debut studio album and follows the highs and lows of the drug-dealing lifestyle, with a few shots at the posers who try to emulate it. The LA-based experimental hip-hop trio is made up of rapper Daveed Diggs and producers Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson.
  • They wrote the track specifically for guest rapper Cocc Pistol Cree after admiring her on DJ Mustard's "LadyKilla" from the mixtape Ketchup.

    "In the rap scene right now it's great to hear the emergence of a lot strong female voices," Diggs explained in an interview with Australia's Triple J radio station. "But one of the great things about her and especially her first mixtape, Postpartum, was not having the inclination to need to sing at all or to need to do anything that references R&B. She's like a rapper's rapper. She's really intricate, she's not afraid to rap fast, she's not afraid to be real gangsta, and feels no need to calm any of that down because she's a woman, which seems to be something that women are being asked to do a lot. And Clipping isn't about calming anything down, ever. We wanted her to come in and rap the way she raps and she did just that."
  • According to Rolling Stone, the unique beat was "made by rolling a ball-bearing in a metal Thermos, smashing cinder blocks, and crumpling a beer can." Jonathan Snipes elaborated in a Spectrum Culture interview: "The beat initially sounded pretty different. We'd made it, and actually recorded all of Daveed's parts to it, but then we re-listened to 'LadyKilla' and realized we had basically re-made that exact beat, with slightly weirder sounds. So, we went back in and changed it quite a bit. I remembered an idea I'd had ages ago to use a sort of bouncing-metallic-ball-bearing-Autechre type noise as the main sound in a clipping. track. I had just been given this metal thermos, so Bill and I recorded several hundred hits, scrapes, flicks, etc. on it, then cut those recordings up, made sampler instruments and sequenced it with MIDI. It ended up working, so that became the main sound."
  • The music video was directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada (Goo Goo Dolls' "Notbroken"), where Daveed spends the beginning of the clip pinned to the ground with his teeth clamped on a parking curb. Cocc Pistol Cree spits out her rap while her foot is firmly planted on the rapper's head before smashing it to bits, sending rats scurrying out of his body and into the parking lot. Estrada explained that Daveed was swapped out for a rat-filled mannequin just before the head-stomp, and the rodents were coaxed out with a plunger.

    Everyone was so concerned with the mechanics of making the video that the violence slipped their minds. Hutson added in a video commentary: "We'd completely been desensitized to the premise and we were just thinking of it as this awesome video we made with these cute little rats in it and when it was up online and everyone was like, 'Damn, that's f---ed up,' we were reminded how violent it actually is. We had completely forgotten."
  • Estrada wanted to use black cats in the video, but the rest of the guys rejected the idea, thinking cats would be too cute.
  • The lyrics "Let the cop pull you over say something slick, on some Jay-Z '99 Problems' type s--t," reference the second verse of Jay-Z's song:

    So I, pull over to the side of the road, I heard
    "Son, do you know why I'm stopping you for?"
    Cause I'm young and I'm black and my hat's real low
    Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don't know
    Am I under arrest or should I guess some more?

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