Violence and Nonviolence

clipping.: Nothing Is Safe

Nothing Is Safe, from “clipping.” is a song that deals with themes of life, death, and marginalized existence. The track comes from their fourth album, “There Existed an Addiction to Blood”, and, just like the rest of the tracks, delivers a horror-tinted exploration of life at the borders of society. The lyrics of the song, while not exactly clear – due to their cryptic nature – suggest a story about some people involved in criminal activities that get raided by the police.

The first lines of the song are:

Everyone safe and sound, this how family do
Only homies around, everyone here is crew

These words already establish a pretty clear framing for the story, one where the characters have taken their safety in their own hands. However, as Elsa Dorlin points out in Self-defense: A Philosophy of Violence, this kind of “active” protection might already be fatal for the characters. This becomes apparent in the following lines,

Somethin’ foul in the air, somethin’ feelin’ askew
Wind is in the pipes, is that whistle callin’ for you

Where a possible threat to the safety of the group starts to reveal itself, and then becomes manifest through the gunning down of one of the characters shortly thereafter.

Drop the lights, so drop low, something shot from the trees
Went straight through the front door, homie drop to his knees
Blood seepin’ from his neck, as he struggle to breathe

The narrator, witnessing the death of one of his friends, has to come to terms with the reality of death (this takes place in the chorus of the song). The line <<Nothing is safe>> can be interpreted as both a commentary on the life of marginalized individuals, who are condemned to a life of persecution from the same institutions which should protect them, and a broader statement on the human condition, as no one is safe from death.

But it creepin’ on a come up, now it’s right up in your face
Face it, let it resonate up in your bone a minute when
You shiver, make a sliver big enough for it to have a space
Ripped life slipping away
Maybe you can make it out with just a little bit of grace
But it truly doesn’t give a fuck about the fear you
Feelin’, it is here to make you understand that nothing is safe

The story then progresses with the characters barricading themselves inside a building, waiting for the next move from the police. The agents proceed to open fire on the building, and we the listeners get a very cinematic description of the action, where the narrator realizes that his time might have come.

The air rushes in, it’s cold as fuck
Bullets slappin’ like hail, more homies struck down
The mission has failed, the wood is split
Splintered chandelier falls and smashes hard
Glass and steel everywhere in every throat, screams in protest
You all are dyin’ and really will anyone care?
Truth, like death, comes for everyone

This realization from the narrator echoes what Judith Butler says about grievability in The Force of Nonviolence, especially the idea that “lives that do not count as potentially grievable stand very little chance of being safeguarded”. The characters in the song lived at the outer bounds of society, forced to protect and provide for themselves through illegal means, and were thus punished by the law enforcement. They became, just like Rodney King and Millet de la Girardière, defenseless and indefensible.

Edoardo Chen


Butler, Judith. 2020. The Force of Nonviolence. Brooklyn: Verso books.
Dorlin, Elsa. 2022. Self-defense: A Philosophy of Violence. London: Verso books.

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