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CLIPpr1 (credit_ COUGHS)

CLIP is making sad girl rap for introverts

We speak to the emerging artist about her debut EP, going viral overnight, and the importance of expressing yourself

For any musician who came up in the pandemic, the rush to IRL recognition can be particularly head-spinning – and no one knows this better than CLIP. The 23-year-old is fast becoming an IT girl in New York’s downtown scene, known for her untouchably hot aesthetic and terminally online take on sad girl rap. 

“Music wasn’t something I wanted to do but something I enjoyed doing,” she tells me over FaceTime. “It’s my happy place.” Running away from her home in Texas to the city at the age of 16, CLIP went viral overnight with her 2020 track “Sad B!tch”. “My life was very chaotic and crazy. My parents weren’t ready for a family but they had one anyway – and shit happens,” she explains. “I had to make a lot of sacrifices because I felt there was more to life than my situation.”

It was upon moving to New York that she cultivated a group of friends and artists, including former digicore artists angelus and midwxst, and formed the collective Burn All Sex Dolls. “Small towns are more conservative and less accepting of people just being themselves, whereas in New York, you can literally be whoever the fuck you want – and no one’s going to make you feel bad for it.” 

Listening to a CLIP track seems upbeat at first: the trancey synth lines and distorted production feel exciting in that chaotic-internet-remix-culture kinda way. But it’s the songwriting that hits the hardest: diaristic and deeply personal reflections on trauma, intimacy and loneliness that, cloaked in the rapper’s dismissive delivery and monotone vocals, can easily pass the uninitiated by. “When I was younger it was really hard for me to express my emotions. I caused myself a lot of inner turmoil because I didn’t know how to let out my feelings,” she says. “If you keep bottling it up, it’s going to hurt inside because you’re never going to embrace your true self.”

It’s something she wants to untangle on her debut EP Perception, a selection of nine tracks that aim to give listeners a deeper look at CLIP’s inner world beyond the viral hits and buzzy social media presence. “I titled the EP Perception because I feel like no one really has a correct grasp of the person I am,” she agrees. Cloaked in CLIP’s monotone vocals, she combines emotionally turbulent lyrics with chaotic production that feels guarded yet vulnerable. “If you get it, you get it.”

Perception is out now