If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past two years, you’ve come across a handful of posts on Los Angeles-based experimental 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 achieve commercial success — as their sound generally consists of 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. And with the release of their full-length debut Midcity, the album caught the attention of renowned indie label Sub Pop Records, who over the past decade have developed a reputation for releasing the work of a diverse array of artists including Debo Band, Shabazz Palaces, GOAT, Daughn Gibson and others, as well as the Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio’s 2014 sophomore effort clppng, an effort that received attention across the blogosphere, including this site.
Now as you may know, it had been a couple of years since we had heard from the members clipping — in fact, Diggs won a Tony for his dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton. Interestingly, at some point the members of the hip hop trio reconvened to write and record their recently released and much-anticipated follow-up Splendor & Misery, a Sci-Fi dystopian concept album that is both futuristic and yet describes our increasingly frightening and bizarre time. And since the release of the album I’ve written about its first three singles “Baby Don’t Sleep,” “Air ‘Em Out” and “A Better Place” and each single manage to further cement the trio’s reputation for pairing minimalist and industrial productions with Diggs’ rapid fire rhyming — but at points the material reveals a subtle refinement of their sound in which at times the material is both melodic and radio-friendly, while evoking the impending apocalypse or the immensity, senselessness and indifference of the universe, the nature of man’s mind and so on.
Recently the trio was invited to Moog Sound Lab to perform “Taking Off” off Splendor & Misery and the video reveals how the trio creates their eerily fucked and hellish sonic vision live — in the case of this song clattering and clinking synths, stuttering drum programming are paired with Diggs ridiculously dexterous rhyming, in which he rhymes about gangstas riding rockets into the sky by getting fucked up in a parking lot, late at night, surreal, almost disconnected violence. And of course they do so while using a ton of really awesome Moog gear.