Category: experimental hip-hop

New Video: DMV’s Kev Brown & J Scienide Release a Forward-Thinking Banger

DMV area hip-duo artist and production duo Kev Brown & J Scienide recently released their sophomore effort together Stray From the Pack — and the album is an organic effort that celebrates — and harkens back to — many of hip-hop’s classic collaborative albums, while boldly pushing the genre’s sound and approach forward. “Stray From The Pack, to me, is the perfect title. Like a pack of wolves running together in stride. Sometimes you have to be those lone wolves and go in your own direction,” J. Scienide says of the album’s title.

Sonically, the album finds the duo’s production deftly coloring outside the lines of boom-bap as they pair off-kilter syncopated beats and left-field samples with clever wordplay and straight-talk about their place in hip-hop. The album’s latest single “Out the Safari” is centered around a lush, forward-thinking production featuring neck snapping, hard-hitting beats, and a twinkling McCoy Tyner-like piano sample. The duo spit some dexterous bars full of bravado, braggadocio and mischievous wit.

The duo linked up last fall to shoot the remarkably stylish visual for “Out the Safari” — and visually, it seems to nod at film noir while following the duo walking around a suburban town while spitting rhymes.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Clipping. Release a Cinematically Shot, Menacing, Fever Dream

Over the past six years or so, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio and JOVM mainstay act Clipping.– production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs. Interestingly, last year’s critically applauded There Existed and Addiction to Blood found the acclaimed hip-hop trio interpreting a hip-hop splinter sect through their own singular lens — horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre that flourished for a handful of years around the mid 1990s. Additionally, the album is also partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — with the title derived from the film.

With horror films, sequels are perfunctory and perhaps even obligatory. As the insufferable film bro Randy explains in Scream 2, “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate—more blood, more gore. Carnage candy. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.” Clipping.’s highly-anticipated follow-up to There Existed an Addition to Blood, Visions of Bodies Getting Burned officially dropped today. And although many may see VoBGB as a sequel, in reality, it’s a the second half of a planned diptych. But hewing closely to the sequel tradition, the album finds the acclaimed JOVM mainstays returning with an even higher body count, bloodier, more elaborate, gorier kills and as always, unrelenting monsters that just won’t ever stay dead.

Interestingly enough, in the years following ffSplendor & Misery, the trio wound up being incredibly prolific, writing and recording too may songs for just one album. Before the release of There Existed an Addition to Blood, Clipping. and Sub Pop divided the material into two albums, specifically designed to be released only months apart. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic managed to forced the cancellation of multiple tours and sadly, the delayed release of the act’s latest album. The 16 song album draws from an eclectic array of sources including Ernest Dickerson, Clive Barker and Shirley Jackson as much as it does from Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Brotha Lynch Hung. Developing their own abrasive, angular and messy interpretation of horrorcore, the members of Clipping. have fully intended to lovingly twist familiar tropes to fit their own politics and thematic concerns — in particular: fear, the absurd, the uncanny and the struggle for an antiracist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonialist world.

So far, I’ve written about three of VoBBB‘s singles:

“Say The Name:.” Featuring a heavily chopped up and screwed sample of Scarface’s evocative lyric from “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” — “Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned,” the song is centered around wobbling, tweeter and woofer rocking low-end, industrial clang and clatter, arpeggiated synths and Diggs’ tongue twisting flow, full of surrealistically gore-filled lyrics full of imagery demons and hell spawn in the flames, bullet hole ridden bodies and more. To me, the song evokes the slow-burning horror of watching a man being snuffed out in public with replays form different angles and commentary as if it were a key play in deciding a big ball game.
“96 Neve Campbell:” Written as a tribute to the self-aware “final girl” character of the post-slasher film cycle that features a vicious and swaggering guest spot from Inglewood’s Cam & China, The trio of ridiculously talented emcees envisions the movie’s final girl — or inn this case final girls — preemptively striking the slasher and fucking his ass up before he could get them. Simply put, the track is fire. featuring criminally under-appreciated talent that you should know. “We’ve been fans of theirs for a long time, going back to the days when they were in the group Pink Dollaz,” Clipping.’s Daveed Diggs says of their collaboration with Cam & China. “Cam and China continue to be some of the most consistent and under-appreciated lyricists on the West Coast. We’ve been trying to do a song with them for a while now, and this one felt like a perfect fit. They bodied it.”
“Pain Everyday:” Centered around a menacingly glitchy production featuring industrial clang and clatter, stuttering beats, atmospheric synths and electronic voice phenomena (EVP) recordings said to be the voices of restless spirits — presumably those who maybe have died horrifyingly brutal deaths. Thematically, the song envisions a call-to-arms for the dead victims of lynching and extrajudicial police killings to haunt and torture the descendants of their murderers both here and in the afterlife. “This song was one of the most challenging to write because it’s the first time we’ve done a track entirely in ⅞, which, it turns out, is kind of a mind fuck,” Clipping.’s Daveed Diggs explains. “I love how it came out because it’s in this odd time signature but the flow still feels natural, like rap is supposed to.”

Visions of Bodies Being Burned fourth and latest single “Enlacing” is a menacing take on trap featuring the prerequisite stuttering beats, distorted vocals that seem to come out from the opened gates of Hell., brief bursts of twinkling synths, droning electronics and tweeter and woofer rocking end paired with Diggs’ alternating between his imitable rapid-fire flow, a spoken word flow and sung choruses. Let this track be a reminder of how Clipping. is actively pushing the sound of hip-hop in new and weirder directions while remaining remarkably accessible.

Clipping. recently released a C Prinz-produced double video for “Enlacing and “Pain Everyday.” featuring frontman Daveed Diggs, the visual is a gorgeously shot and incredibly vivid fever dream that pulsates with menace and unease. “This piece explores bodies and impact and gravity and sensation in a way that aims to overwhelm you as viscerally as our current world reality does mentally, but through the lens of the embodied experience,” C Prinz explains. “We are surrounded by surface level, fake realities through social media and politics. I just wanted to create a piece that serves as a momentary break from the superficial culture we live in and fantasize on a more genuine, honest reality in the effort it takes to survive right now.”

LyrIc Video: Clipping. Releases a Minimalist and Menacing New Single

Throughout the past few years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual link covering Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio and JOVM mainstay act Clipping.– production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs. Now, as you may recall, last year’s There Existed and Addiction to Blood found the acclaimed hip-hop trio interpreting a rap spinner sect through their own singular lens — in this case, horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre that flourished for a handful of years around the mid 1990s. That album’s material is also partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — with the title derived from the film.

With horror films, sequels are perfunctory. As the insufferable film bro Randy explains in Scream 2, “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate—more blood, more gore. Carnage candy. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.” Clipping.’s highly-anticipated follow-up to There Existed an Addition to Blood, Visions of Bodies Getting Burned is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through their longtime label home, Sub Pop Records. Much like any sequel, VoBGB finds the JOVM mainstays returning with an even higher body count, bloodier, more elaborate, gorier kills, and as always, unrelenting monsters that just won’t stay dead. And although the album will most lily be seen and received as a sequel, in reality it’s the second half a planned diptych.

As it turned out, in the years following Splendor & Misery, the trio wound up being incredibly prolific, writing and recording too may songs for just one album. Before the release of There Existed an Addition to Blood, Clipping. and Sub Pop divided the material into two albums, specifically designed to be released only months apart. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic managed to forced the cancellation of multiple tours and the delayed release of Visions of Bodies Being Burned until next week. Interestingly, the 16 song album draws from Ernest Dickerson, Clive Barker and Shirley Jackson as much as it does from Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Brotha Lynch Hung. And while they’ve developed a uniquely abrasive, angular and messy interpretation of horrorcore, they fully intend to lovingly twist beloved and familiar tropes to fit their own politics and thematic concerns — fear, the absurd, the uncanny and the struggle for an antiracist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonialist world.

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Clipping. Team Up with Cam & China for a Menacing New Banger

I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio and JOVM mainstay act Clipping.– production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs—over the past six years or so. The JOVM mainstay’s third album, lat year’s There Existed an Addiction to Blood found the acclaimed trio interpreting a rap splinter set through their own singular lens — horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre that flourished for a handful of years around the mid 1990s. Some of its pioneers included Brotha Lynch Hung, Gravediggaz, which featured The RZA — and it included seminal releases from Geto Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and pretty much most of Memphiscassette tape rap. The album’s material is also partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — with the title derived from the film.

With horror films, sequels are perfunctory. As the insufferable film bro Randy explains in Scream 2, “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate—more blood, more gore. Carnage candy. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.” Their highly-anticipated follow-up to There Existed an Addition to Blood, Visions of Bodies Getting Burned is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through their longtime label home, Sub Pop Records. And much like any sequel, VoBGB finds the JOVM mainstays returning with an even higher body count, bloodier, more elaborate, gorier kills, and as always, unrelenting monsters that just won’t stay dead. The album may be seen by most as a sequel but in reality it’s the second half of planned diptych.

As it turned out, in the years following Splendor & Misery, the trio were incredibly prolific, writing and recording too many songs for just one album. Before the release of There Existed an Addition to Blood, Clipping. and Sub Pop divided the material into two albums, specifically designed to be released only months apart. Of course, as a result to the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple cancelled tours forced the delay of Visions of Bodies Being Burned until next month. The 16 song album draws from Ernest Dickerson, Clive Barker and Shirley Jackson as much as it does from Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Brotha Lynch Hung. And while they have a uniquely abrasive, angular and messy interpretation of the style, their intention is to lovingly twist beloved and familiar tropes to fit their own politics, centered around monstrosity, fear, the absurd and the uncanny and the struggle for an antiracist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonial world.

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Say The Name.” Centered around a hook that features Scarface’s evocative lyric from “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” — “Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned” — chopped and screed paired with wobbling, twitter and woofer rocking low-end, industrial clang and clatter, arpeggiated synths and Diggs’ tongue twisting flow, full of surrealistic and gory lyrics. And while full of fantastic imagery of demons in the flames, hell spawn and more, bullet holes and more, the song evokes a slow-burning, menace and horror that feels familiar — the sort of horror of seeing a man snuffed out in public on video with replays from different angles and commentary like a key play in a ballgame.

The album’s second and latest single ’96 Neve Campbell” is a tribute to the self-aware “final girl” character of the post-slasher film cycle. Featuring vicious and swaggering guest spots from Inglewood’s Cam & China, the track envisions a final girl — or in this case final girls — who preemptively strike the slasher and fuck that ass up before he could get them. Simply put, this track is a straight up menacing banger featuring criminally under-appreciated talent. “We’ve been fans of theirs for a long time, going back to the days when they were in the group Pink Dollaz,” Clipping.’s Daveed Diggs says of their collaboration with Cam & China. “Cam and China continue to be some of the most consistent and under-appreciated lyricists on the West Coast. We’ve been trying to do a song with them for a while now, and this one felt like a perfect fit. They bodied it.”

The accompanying lyric video was directed by Clipping’s Jonathan Snipes and the group’s longtime collaborator Cristina Bercovitz.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Clipping. Release a Menacing and Uneasy New Single

Over the past six years or so, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio and JOVM mainstay act Clipping. When the act — production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs — formed in the pervious decade, they never expected to achieve much in the way of critical or commercial success: their earliest releases were built around Snipes’ and Hutson’s sparse and abrasive productions featuring industrial clang, clink and clatter and samples of field recordings paired with Diggs’ rapid-fire narrative driven flow,  full of surrealistically brutal and violent imagery and swaggering braggadocio.

Sub Pop Records signed the Los Angeles-based trio and released 2014’s clpping. an effort that received attention across the blogosphere, including here. Shortly after clppng., Diggs went on to star in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton, winning a Tony Award for his dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette. Although the act was on a hiatus for a bit, they reconvened for 2016’s critically applauded, Sci-Fi dystopian concept album Splendor & Misery, an effort that was clearly futuristic and yet accurately described our frightening and bizarre present.

The JOVM mainstay’s third album, lat year’s There Existed an Addiction to Blood found the acclaimed trio interpreting a rap splinter set through their own singular lens  — horrorcoe, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre that flourished for a handful of years around the mid 1990s. Some of its pioneers included Brotha Lynch Hung, Gravediggaz, which featured The RZA — and it included seminal releases from Geto Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and pretty much most of Memphis cassette tape rap. The album’s material is also partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — with the title derived from the film. 

With horror films, sequels are perfunctory. As the insufferable film bro Randy explains in Scream 2, “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate—more blood, more gore. Carnage candy. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.” Slated for an October 23, 2020 Clipping. will be releasing the highly anticipated follow-up to There Existed an Addiction to Blood, Visions of Bodies Being Burned — and much like any sequel, the JOVM mainstay act’s fourth album finds them returning with a higher body count, more elaborate, bloodier, gorier kills and of course, unrelenting monsters that just won’t stay dead. Sure, the album in a simplistic sense may be seen by many as a sequel but in reality it’s the second half of a planned diptych: as it turns out  in the years following Splendor & Misery, the trio was incredibly prolific, writing too many songs for just one album. Before There Existed an Addiction to Blood’s release, Clipping. and Sub Pop divided the material into albums, specifically designed to be released only months apart. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and multiple cancelled tours forced the delay of Visions of Bodies Being Burned’s release until this upcoming October. The 16 song album draws from Ernest Dickerson, Clive Barker and Shirley Jackson as much as it does from Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Brotha Lynch Hung. And while they have a uniquely abrasive, angular and messy interpretation of the style, their intention is to lovingly twist beloved and familiar tropes to fit their own politics, centered around monstrosity, fear, the absurd and the uncanny and the struggle for an antiracist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonial world. 

VoBBB’s first single “Say The Name” is centered around a hook that features Scarface’s evocative lyric from “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” — “Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned” — chopped and screwed and paired with industrial clang and clatter, wobbling, twitter and woofer rocking low end, arpeggiated synths and Diggs’ surrealistic and gory lyrics. And while full of fantastic imagery of demons in the flames, hell spawn and more, bullet holes and more, the song evokes a slow-burning, menace and horror that feels familiar — the sort of horror of seeing a man snuffed out in public on video with replays from different angles and commentary like a key play in a ballgame. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Shabazz Palaces Return with a Lysergic and Hypnotic Visuals for Futuristic “Chocolate Soufflé

Since the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2011’s Black Up, the Seattle-based act Shabazz Palaces — emcee and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire — have managed to continue Butler’s relentless desire to reimagine what hip hop should and could sound like while boldly proving that they’re the heirs to the astral imaginations of Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler and Alice Coltrane. Interestingly, as a result, Butler has collaborated with an eclectic collection of like-minded, critically applauded and forward-thinking experimentalist including Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Battles, Animal Collective, Clipping. and others — and he has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Lauryn Hill.

Now. as you may recall, the act’s forthcoming Don of Diamond Dreams is slated for an April 17, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, and the album is reportedly a sort of futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, featuring robotic and vocodered vocals, warped auto-tune and alien-like synthesizers while drums speak the universal language. The end result is material that meshes and blurs the lines between hip-hop, dub, soul, funk, Afro-pop, experimental and ambient music and even pop. And although their forthcoming album continues a prolific run of meticulously constructed albums, its creation and creative process was centered around improvisation and instinct, balancing the cerebral with the automatic: Butler would jot down phrases and ideas on his phone and eventually started to shape them into amorphous, abstract and expressionistic verses. 

Some of the album’s material is shaped by Butler’s reflection on being a parent and watching his son Jazz receive international renown as the rapidly rising artist Lil Tracy. There’s  interplay between father and son, with Butler absorbing the sound of today but filtered through his own unique, fractured lens, freestyling with the wisdom and experience of age — and the passion of someone, who believes (and knows) that he still has something to prove to those youngins. And while as self-assured and as confident as ever, the album captures an act boldly attempting something new.

Earlier this month, I wrote about “Fast Learner,” the album’s glittering and thumping first single. Featuring a prominent guest spot from Purple Tape Nate, the track was centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling and tumbling bass lines and heavily vocodered and reverb-drenched vocals, the track is a lysergic-tinged and semi-retrofuturistic take on trap that’s continues the duo’s forward-thinking 37th century hanging out around Juptier’s rings in a badass spaceship take on hip-hop. “Chocolate Soufflé,” Don of Diamond Dreams’ second and latest single is another lysergic and 37th century take on synth funk and trap centered around shuffling beats, glistening and wobbling synths paired with Butler’s wildly inventive and complex wordplay. 

Directed by David Shields and James Nugent, the equally lysergic and retro-futuristic visuals for “Chocolate Soufflé” features a series of trippy video collages created by David Shields, James Nugent and Ishmael Butler, Snapchat and Instagram-filtered footage of Butler. Much like the accompanying track, the visuals take you into a different universe — one full of wild possibilities. 

New Video: Shabazz Palaces’ Gorgeous and Hallucinogenic Visual for “Fast Learner”

Since the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2011’s Black Up, the Seattle-based act Shabazz Palaces — emcee and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire — have managed to boldly continue Butler’s relentless desire to reimagine hip-hop and to boldly expand the possibilities of sound while proving that they’re the heirs to the astral imaginations of Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler and Alice Coltrane. As a result Butler has collaborated with like-minded, critically applauded experimentalists including Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Battles, Animal Collective, Clipping and others — and he has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Lauryn Hill.

Slated for an April 17, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, Shabazz Palaces’ forthcoming album Don of Diamond Dreams is reportedly a sort of futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, featuring robotic and vocodered vocals, warped auto-tune, alien-like synthesizers — but with drums speaking a universal language, as the material’s overall sound meshes and blurs the lines between hip-hop, dub, soul, funk, African, experimental and occasionally even pop.

Although their fifth album continues a prolific run of meticulously constructed albums, its creation was centered around instinct and improvisation, being both cerebral and automatic with Butler jotting down phrases and ideas in his phone and eventually shaping them into amorphous, abstract and expressionistic verses. Interestingly, some of the material is shaped by Butler’s reflections on being a parent and watching his son, Jazz become internationally renowned as the rapidly rising artist Lil Tracy. There’s interplay between father as son, with Butler absorbing the sounds of today’s youth, but filtering it through his own fractured lens, spitting complex rhyme schemes with wild cadences and wordplay, freestyling with the wisdom and experience of age and the passion of someone, who believes that he has something to prove. And while as self-assured and as confident as ever, the album captures an act boldly attempting something new.

Don of Diamond Dreams‘ first single is the glittering and thumping “Fast Learner.” Featuring a prominent guest spot from Purple Tape Nate, the track is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling and tumbling bass lines and heavily vocodered and reverb-drenched vocals, the track is a lysergic-tinged and semi-retrofuturistic take on trap that’s one-part slow-burning and atmospheric R&B, one-part surrealistic, art pop, one part golden era hip-hop. And while sounding unlike anything else in their growing catalog, the song does manage to further cement the duo’s forward-thinking, 37th century hanging out around Jupiter’s rings in a badass spaceship take on hip-hop.

Directed by Stephan Gray, the recently released video for “Fast Leaner” is a gorgeously shot, hallucinogenic-fueled take on the prototypical hip-hop video that’s one part Italian art film, one part trap shit, one part street shit, shot at dusk and at night in various locations, including the desert, the studio, the streets, artist-like lofts. If this the sound and look  of our soon-to-be dystopian future in which our society collapses, the poor get sick and the rich get richer, then it fucking slaps. 

GR3YWXLF (pronounced GREYWOLF) is an extremely prolific London-based emcee. His tenth, independently released single received praise from Cult Style Magazine, DOPECAUSEWESAID and BBC Introducing. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding him, the London-based emcee recently released his eleventh single of the year, “Jaegar.”

Clocking in at 105 seconds, the track features the rising British emcee’s dexterous and rapid fire rhymes over a woozy and glitchy production centered around chopped up and heavily distorted vocal samples and tweeter and woofer rocking beats. It’s a trippy track that to my ears reminds me quite of Shabazz Palaces and Knife Knights.

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