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.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about “Work Work,” the first single off clppng, a single that not only introduced their unique sound and aesthetic to a wider audience but also introduced one of the more dexterous, inventive and truly unique emcees in contemporary hip-hop that we all should have heard of before — and will be hearing of for quite some time to come. as Diggs’ narrative-heavy rhymes feature insanely complex inner and outer rhyme schemes, stark and surreally violent imagery and punchlines told in the second and third person (which is actually pretty fucking difficult for just about anything, really).
Up until recently, it had been a couple of years since we had heard music from the members of clipping; of course, 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 is slated for a September 9, 2016 release is reportedly a Sci-Fi dystopian concept album and the album’s first single “Baby Don’t Sleep,” which I wrote about earlier this month evokes the increasing sense that humanity is marching lockstep to its inevitable self-destruction. And in that particular single, Diggs’ rapid-fire rhymes describe characters, who feel alienated, empty, paranoid and afraid is paired with a sparse, anxious and 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” features an ominous and 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. Seriously, someone should make a movie out of that. And while being absolutely vicious, the song also manages to be the most melodic and (somewhat) radio-friendly song they’ve released to date.
Directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada, the recently released video features Diggs as a disinterested and bored security guard, who after taking medication finds the surrounding objects in his dark office trembling to the woofer and tweeter rocking beats just as they began to defy gravity.