If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a couple of posts on Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio clipping. Comprised of production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson, along with emcee and actor Daveed Diggs, the trio never expected to commercially successful — or to find much of an audience for their sound, as the trio pairs Snipes’ and Hutson’s sparse and abrasive productions consisting of industrial clinking and clanking and field recordings with Diggs’ incredibly dexterous, rapid fire narrative-heavy delivery full of surreally violent imagery and swaggering braggadocio; however, the release of their 2013 full-length debut Midcity caught the attention of the folks at Sub Pop Records, a label that over the past decade or so has developed a reputation for releasing the work of an increasingly diverse array of artists including Debo Band, Shabazz Palaces, GOAT, Daughn Gibson and others. And with the 2014 release of the trio’s sophomore effort clppng, the Los Angeles-based experimental hip-hop trio quickly received attention across the blogosphere, including this site. Admittedly, it also helps that the trio’s work has been released at a time when both mainstream and indie artists have openly and increasingly embraced unconventional sounds and collaborations that have resulted in the boundaries of what hip-hop should look like, sound like and thematically concern itself with being pushed and shoved wide open.
Up until recently, it had been a couple of years since we had heard music from the members of clipping as the members of the act have been pretty busy with other creative pursuits — with Diggs famously winning a Tony for his dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton. However, the trio returns with Splendor & Misery, their long-awaited follow-up to clppng, and the album, which officially drops today is reportedly a Sci-Fi dystopian concept album that eerily evokes our increasingly frightening and bizarre time. “Baby Don’t Sleep,” the album’s first single features Diggs’ imitable rapid fire rhymes, describing characters, who feel alienated, empty, paranoid and afraid paired with an abrasive production featuring undulating feedback and static and what sounds like a jackhammer and industrial clinking, clanging and crumpling. Splendor & Misery‘s second single “Air ‘Em Out” featured a menacing production featuring stuttering drum programming, industrial clinking and clanking, swirling electronic, brief bursts of twinkling synths that mischievously nods at trap hop while Diggs rhymes about what sounds like either an alien invasion, a zombie apocalypse or a civil war — all happening simultaneously perhaps, complete with roving gangs causing trouble, killing people and getting fucked up. And while being absolutely vicious, the song also manages to be the most melodic and (somewhat) radio-friendly song they’ve released to date.
The trio performed Splendor & Misery‘s latest single “A Better Place” on The Late Late Show with James Corden and from the live version of the single, it may be the most hopeful and profound song they’ve ever released. Snipes and Hutson’s production features a looped carnival-like organ, chiming percussion and skipping and stuttering drum programming and explosive peals of feedback while Diggs’s rapid fire delivery conquers a number of profound topics — the nature of man’s mind, the senselessness, immensity and cruelty of universe, the endless passage of time, species memory, and the hope of finding someplace where you can be someone, hell something else but yourself, complete with ridiculous inner and outer rhymes and mischievously witty word play.