Tag: alternative hip-hop

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Genesis Owusu Shares a Frenetic New Ripper

2017’s  Cardrive EP saw Ghanian-born, Canberra, Australia-based, 20-something artist Genesis Owusu — born Kofi Owusu-Anash — quickly establishing himself as a perpetually restless, genre-blurring chameleon with an ability to conjure powerful and deeply personal storytelling in diverse forms. Cardive EP eventually garnered an ARIA Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Release and praise from Sir Elton John (!), NMEi-Dmixmag and others. Adding to a growing profile across Australia, Owusu has opened for Dead PrezCol3traneSampa The GreatCosmo’s MidnightNonameAniméRuel and others. 

Back in 2020, Owusu-Anash released a handful of highly-celebrated singles including the fiery mosh-pit friendly banger “Whip Cracker” and the ARIA Award-nominated smash hit “Don’t Need You,” which quickly became the #1 most played song on triple J radio — and since then has received airplay in the UK on both BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 and here in the States on KCRWKUTXThe Current and Alt98. Those singles prominently appear on Owusu-Anash’s critically applauded full-length debut Smiling With No Teeth.

Smiling With No Teeth is performing what the world wants to see, even if you don’t have the capacity to do so honestly,” Owusu explains in press notes. “Slathering honey on your demons to make them palatable to people who only want to know if you’re okay, if the answer is yes. That’s the idea, turned into beautiful, youthful, ugly, timeless and strange music.” Each of the album’s 15 tracks can trace their origins back to studio jam sessions with a backing band that features Kirin J. CallinanTouch Sensitive’s Michael DiFrancesco, World Champion‘s Julian Sudek and the album’s producer Andrew Klippel. 

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I wrote about three of Smiling With No Teeth‘s singles:

  • The Other Black Dog,” a mind-bending production that meshed alternative hip-hop, industrial clang, clatter, rattle and stomp, off-kilter stuttering beats and wobbling synth arpeggios that was roomy enough for Owusu-Anash’s breathless, rapid-fire and dense flow. Managing to balance club friendliness with sweaty, mosh pit energy, the song is a full-throttled nosedive into madness that reminds me of the drug and booze fueled chaos of ODB, and the menace of DMX.
  • Gold Chains,” a brooding yet seamless synthesis of old school soul, G Funk and Massive Attack-like trip hop centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling blasts of guitar and the rising Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist’s Mos Def/Yasiin Bey-like delivery, alternating between spitting dense and dexterous bars and crooning with an achingly tender falsetto. “‘Gold Chains’ got me thinking about the flaws of being in a profession where, more and more, you have to be the product, rather than just the provider of the product, and public misconceptions about how luxurious that is,” Owusu-Anash explains in press notes. “Lyrically, it set the tone for the rest of the album.” 
  • Same Thing,” a jolting and uneasy future funk banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, bursts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a propulsive bass line and infectious hook serving as a silky bed for Owusu’s alternating dexterous and densely worded bars and soulful crooning. But at its core is an unflinchingly honest — and necessary — view of mental health struggles. 

Owusu-Anash capped off an enormous 2021 with the Missing Molars EP, a five-track accompaniment to his critically applauded full-length debut. Recorded during the Smiling With No Teeth sessions, the Missing Molars EP material didn’t make the album — but further continue the soul-baring narrative of his debut. “Missing Molars is an extension of Smiling With No Teeth,” Owusu-Anash explains. “A small collection of tracks from the SWNT sessions that take the already established world-building groundwork of the album, and expand that universe into new and unexplored places. These are all tracks that I felt were special in their own right and needed to be shared. This is music without boundaries.” 

Recently, Owusu-Anash made his Stateside, late night TV debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he performed SWNT standout single “Gold Chains” along with his backing band. 

And as you may recall, the Ghanian-Aussie JOVM mainstay had to reschedule his January Stateside tour to March-April as a result of the Omicron variant. The rescheduled tour includes an April 2, 2022 stop at Bowery Ballroom. (As always, you can check out the tour dates below. And check out the following for tickets and more information: https://www.genesisowusu.com/tour)

in the lead up to his Stateside headlining tour, the acclaimed Ghanian-Aussie JOVM mainstay shared Smiling With No Teeth‘s sixth and latest single, “Black Dogs!” may arguably be the most post-punk/punk rock leaning song on the entire album. Centered around a propulsive and angular bass line, a relentless and forceful four on the four, twinkling and fluttering synths, bursts of angular guitar paired with Owusu-Anash’s angry snarls, “Black Dogs!” is a mosh pit friendly stomp, fueled by simmering rage. It’s a rage that’s deeply familiar to me as a Black man frequently in era white spaces: Maybe you don’t get abused by the police at all, but the constant microagression, the backhanded compliments, the outright insults get deep into your soul. For me, it often feels like life is a series of insults, of someone always saying “you ain’t shit.”

Directed by Daniela Federici, the accompanying visual for “Black Dogs!” is split between a sumptuous and cinematic black and white and vivid color and captures Owusu-Anash’s frenetic, captivating energy.

“I really wanted to capture the tension and the rising chaos of the song in video form, and Daniela Federici knew how to bring that energy in spades, but also in a really artful way,” Owusu-Anash says in press notes. Of “Black Dogs!,” he adds, ” “It’s a straight-to-the-point song encompassing a day in the life of me, or just any Black person in Australia. It’s not that I’m getting abused by police every day, but it’s all the little micro-aggressions. Sonically speaking, it plays into how I feel every day, going into white spaces and feeling a bit paranoid.” 

Live Footage: Genesis Owusu Performs “Gold Chains” on “Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

2017’s  Cardrive EP saw Ghanian-born, Canberra, Australia-based, 20-something artist Genesis Owusu — born Kofi Owusu-Anash — quickly establishing himself as a perpetually restless, genre-blurring chameleon with an ability to conjure powerful and deeply personal storytelling in diverse forms. Cardive EP eventually garnered an ARIA Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Release and praise from Sir Elton John (!), NMEi-Dmixmag and others. Adding to a growing profile across Australia, Owusu has opened for Dead PrezCol3traneSampa The GreatCosmo’s MidnightNonameAniméRuel and others. 

Back in 2020, Owusu-Anash released a handful of highly-celebrated singles including the fiery mosh-pit friendly banger “Whip Cracker” and the ARIA Award-nominated smash hit “Don’t Need You,” which quickly became the #1 most played song on triple J radio — and since then has received airplay in the UK on both BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 and here in the States on KCRWKUTXThe Current and Alt98. Those singles prominently appear on Owusu-Anash’s critically applauded full-length debut Smiling With No Teeth.

Smiling With No Teeth is performing what the world wants to see, even if you don’t have the capacity to do so honestly,” Owusu explains in press notes. “Slathering honey on your demons to make them palatable to people who only want to know if you’re okay, if the answer is yes. That’s the idea, turned into beautiful, youthful, ugly, timeless and strange music.” Each of the album’s 15 tracks can trace their origins back to studio jam sessions with a backing band that features Kirin J. CallinanTouch Sensitive’s Michael DiFrancesco, World Champion‘s Julian Sudek and the album’s producer Andrew Klippel. 

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I wrote about three of Smiling With No Teeth‘s singles:

  • The Other Black Dog,” a mind-bending production that meshed alternative hip-hop, industrial clang, clatter, rattle and stomp, off-kilter stuttering beats and wobbling synth arpeggios that was roomy enough for Owusu-Anash’s breathless, rapid-fire and dense flow. Managing to balance club friendliness with sweaty, mosh pit energy, the song is a full-throttled nosedive into madness that reminds me of the drug and booze fueled chaos of ODB, and the menace of DMX.
  • Gold Chains,” a brooding yet seamless synthesis of old school soul, G Funk and Massive Attack-like trip hop centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling blasts of guitar and the rising Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist’s Mos Def/Yasiin Bey-like delivery, alternating between spitting dense and dexterous bars and crooning with an achingly tender falsetto. “‘Gold Chains’ got me thinking about the flaws of being in a profession where, more and more, you have to be the product, rather than just the provider of the product, and public misconceptions about how luxurious that is,” Owusu-Anash explains in press notes. “Lyrically, it set the tone for the rest of the album.” 
  • Same Thing,” a jolting and uneasy future funk banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, bursts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a propulsive bass line and infectious hook serving as a silky bed for Owusu’s alternating dexterous and densely worded bars and soulful crooning. But at its core is an unflinchingly honest — and necessary — view of mental health struggles. 

Owusu-Anash capped off an enormous 2021 with the Missing Molars EP, a five-track accompaniment to his critically applauded full-length debut. Recorded during the Smiling With No Teeth sessions, the Missing Molars EP material didn’t make the album — but further continue the soul-baring narrative of his debut. “Missing Molars is an extension of Smiling With No Teeth,” Owusu-Anash explains. “A small collection of tracks from the SWNT sessions that take the already established world-building groundwork of the album, and expand that universe into new and unexplored places. These are all tracks that I felt were special in their own right and needed to be shared. This is music without boundaries.” 

Recently, Owusu-Anash made his Stateside, late night TV debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he performed SWNT standout single “Gold Chains” along with his backing band.

New Video: Homemade Weapons’ Drum ‘n’ Bass Remix of Clipping.’s “Wriggle”

Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve managed to spill copious amounts of virtual ink covering the acclaimed Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio and JOVM mainstay act Clipping. The trio — production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs — have been busy over the past couple of years: they released two critically applauded albums as part of planned diptych — 2019’s There Existed An Addiction to Blood and 2020’s Visions of Bodies Getting Burned — that found the act developing an abrasive and downright messy take on horrorcore, centered around an industrial aesthetic while lovingly twisting familiar genre and sub-genre tropes to fit their politics and thematic concerns: fear, the absurd, the uncanny and the seemingly unending struggle for an antiracist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonialist world.

But I need to rewind a bit: 2016’s digital-only release Wriggle EP featured six tracks that weren’t finished in time to make it on the JOVM mainstay’s 2014 Sub Pop Records debut CLPPNG. Since its release, the EP has become a fan favorite with tracks like “Wriggle” and “Shooter” becoming staples of their live set. Interestingly, the members of Clipping will release the Wriggle EP as a newly remastered and expanded nine-track set on vinyl for the first time ever on July 9, 2021 — with a 10 track digital version officially dropping today.

The expanded version of Wriggle features the original versions of “Shooter,” “Hot Fuck No Love” feat. Cakes Da Killa and Maxi Wild, and “Our Time” feat. Nailah Middleton, along with “Back Up 2021” featuring SB The Moor and a new verse of industrial rap experimentalist Debby Friday. Additionally, the expanded version features previously remixes by drum ‘n’ bass/breakbeat act Homemade Weapons, Classicworks label co-founder Cardpusher, Dave Quam (formerly known as Massacooramaan) and a vinyl-only version of “Hot Fuck No Love” by footwork producer Jana Rush.

The expanded EP’s latest single is Homemade Weapons’ remix of “Wriggle.” The original was breakneck banger centered around a sample of Whitehouse’s influential power-electronica song “Wriggle Like a Fucking Eel,” skittering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Diggs’ dexterous, rapid-fire flow and forceful commands to wriggle like a snake or an eel. The Homemade Weapons remix is a minimalist drum ‘n’ bass take on the song, reducing the song to a chopped up and screwed vocal sample and densely layered staccato beats.

Directed by Cristina Bercovitz and Clipping’s Jonathan Snipes, the recently released video for “Wriggle (Homemade Weapons Remix)” features daytime and nighttime footage on Interstate 110, edited in a way so that the cars more in a glitchy fashion to the propulsive beats.

Live Footage: Clipping. on NPR Tiny Desk at Home SXSW

I’ve managed to spill a copious amount of virtual ink covering the acclaimed covering Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio and JOVM mainstay act Clipping. The trio — production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs — released two critically applauded albums as part of a planned diptych that found them interpreting a hip-hop splinter sect through their own singular lens — horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist and significant hip-hop sub-genre that flourished for a handful of years around the mid 1990s. The first part of the diptych, There Existed an Addiciton to Blood was 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.

Of course, with horror films, sequels are pretty perfunctory and perhaps even obligatory. Last year’s Visions of Bodies Getting Burned manages to hew closely to the horror film sequel tradition with the JOVM mainstays retuning with an even higher body count, bloodier, more elaborate, gorier kills and as always, unrelenting monsters that just won’t ever stay dead. The 16 song album draws from an eclectic array of sources including Ernest Dickerson, Clive Barker and Shirley Jackson, Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Brotha Lynch Hung. Developing an abrasive, angular and downright messy take on horrorcore, centered around an industrial and goth-like aesthetic, the members of Clipping. lovingly twist familiar genre and sub-genre tropes to fit their politics and thematic concerns — in particular, those that fit our current moment: fear, the absurd, the uncanny, and the seemingly unending struggling for an antiracist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonialist world.

Traditionally, NPR Music participates in SXSW — typically through curating showcases and through covering the hundreds of showcases and sets performed at the annual festival. Last year, the festival was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year, the festival reconvened as an online festival with pre-recorded livestreams. NPR programed a virtual stage of Tiny Desk (at home) concerts, filmed in various locations and full of surprises and Easter eggs, which were presented on the festival’s final day.

The JOVM mainstays took part, offering one of the most unique, surreal and innovative Tiny Desk (at home) sessions I’ve ever seen with the trio emphasizing both an in-your-face, close-up intimacy and tininess with the trio performing with extremely tiny instruments and microphones. And at some point, one of the members of the trio even drinks a tiny beer. Clipping.’s NPR Tiny Desk (at home) session features material from their last two albums, as well as 2016’s Wriggle EP and their debut mixtape, 2013’s midcity performed with even more menacing and uneasy productions that continue to display Diggs’ rapid-fire and clever wordplay — all while being disorienting.

New Video: Rising Ghanian-born Aussie-based Artist Genesis Owusu Peers into Madness

With the releases of his debut effort, 2017’s Cardrive EP, which garnered an ARIA Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Release and praise from Sir Elton John (!), NME, i-D, mixmag and others, the rapidly rising Ghanian-born, Canberra, Australia-based, , 20-something artist Genesis Owusu — born Kofi Owusu-Anash — quickly developed a reputation for being a maverick presence with an ability to conjure powerful and deeply personal storytelling in diverse forms, centered around a genre-defying sound and approach that’s uniquely his own. Adding to a growing profile, Owusu has opened for the likes of Dead Prez, Col3trane, Sampa The Great, Cosmo’s Midnight, Noname, Animé, Ruel and others in Australia.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Owusu-Anash has released a handful of highly-celebrated singles over the past year, which have included “Whip Cracker,” and the ARIA Award-nominated smash hit “Don’t Need You,” which quickly became the #1 most played song on triple J radio — and since then has received airplay in the UK on both BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 and recently here in the States on KCRW, KUTX, The Current and Alt98.

“Whip Cracker” and “Don’t Need You” will be prominently featured on Owusu-Anash’s forthcoming 15 song Andrew Klippel-produced full-length debut Smiling With No Teeth. Slated for a March 5, 2021 release through House Anxiety/Ourness, Smiling With No Teeth reportedly sees the rising Ghanian-born, Aussie artist further honing and developing his genre-confounding sound and approach while charting the epic peaks of troughs of mental health struggles and his experience as a black man in a very white world. Centered around raw hip-hop energy, the material routinely veers into industrial, punk, funk and pop, sometimes within the same song. And as a result, the album’s brash and defiant material is dedicated to those who boldly refuse to be boxed in by stereotypes or cultural norms, or at the very least, don’t feel that they fit in anywhere.

“Smiling With No Teeth is performing what the world wants to see, even if you don’t have the capacity to do so honestly,” Owusu explains in press notes. “Slathering honey on your demons to make them palatable to people who only want to know if you’re okay if the answer is yes. That’s the idea, turned into beautiful, youthful, ugly, timeless and strange music.” Each of the album’s 15 tracks can trace their origins back to studio jam sessions with a backing band that features Kirin J. Callinan, Touch Sensitive’s Michael DiFrancesco, World Champion’s Julian Sudek and the album’s producer Andrew Klippel.

“The Other Black Dog,” Smiling With No Teeth’s third and latest single is a cinematic take on contemporary alternative hip-hop, industrial music and pop centered around Owusu-Anash’s breathlessly rapid-fire delivery and barking, and an industrial stomp featuring off-kilter, stuttering beats and wobbling synth arpeggios. Somehow managing to balance dance floor friendliness with a sweaty mosh-pit energy, the song is a full-throttled nosedive into the hell of madness that brings the drug and booze fueled chaos of ODB, and the fury and menace of DMX to mind. Thematically, the single finds the rising Canberra-based artist giving the fearsome inner and outer demons he lives with and informs his life, the “black dogs,” a name. “The track explores the internal struggle between a hopeful spirit of endurance, and a gnashing black hole of ugliness,” Owusu-Anash explains. “One is me, and the other is also me.”

Directed by Riley Blakeway, the recently released video for “The Other Black Dog” brings the track’s kinetic and forceful menace to vividly nightmarish life: the video finds the rising Aussie artist running for his life along a deserted, night time road, desperately trying to outrun a relentless and evil version of himself and the demons that feed off his fear and insecurities. The video suggests something deeply fearful and disconcerting that we all know but don’t want to admit: there’s no escape from the devils that torment our hearts and souls — and there’s no escape from the devils that torment us in our daily lives. You can run but you can never hide.

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: Norwegian JOVM Mainstay Ivan Ave Returns with a Dreamy Visual for Contemplative “Hope/Nope”

Over the past few months, I’ve spilled a quite a bit of virtual ink writing about this site’s latest mainstay, Eivind Øygarden, an acclaimed Telemark, Norway-born, Oslo-Norway-based emcee, best known as Ivan Ave. The acclaimed, Norwegian emcee’s third album Double Goodbyes was released earlier this year through Playground Music/Mutual Intentions. 

Deriving its title from a Seinfeld references, Double Goodbyes finds the acclaimed emcee leaving the sample-heavy behind sound of his previously released work and moving towards a broader — and at times more soul influenced — sonic palette. The album also marks the first time that Øygarden took up production duties, producing the majority of the album’s material himself.

Recorded last year in Los Angeles and Oslo, and featuring guest spots from Sasac, Bryon The Aquarius, Joyce Wrice, and others, the album was recorded during a period of personal struggle for the JOVM mainstay, where the work became both the focus and the therapy. “I needed to start from scratch in my life and rebuild it step by step, the music was part of the healing process.” Interestingly, some of the aesthetics of the Home Shopping Network and late ’80s and early ’90s new age influence some of the album’s material. ‘“It’s easy to mock, due to some of its pompous cheesiness,” Ivan Ave says in press notes. “But as I’m getting older, experiencing life’s ups and downs, the essence of it feels genuine.” (It shouldn’t be surprising that A Tribe Called Quest’s and The Midnight Hour’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad once described the acclaimed Norwegian emcee’s work as “deeply therapeutic” on his podcast.)

“Double Goodbyes is a product of just making music that moved me, in a phase of my life where I was building from scratch emotionally,” the acclaimed Norwegian emcee explains in press notes. “I found healing in producing and singing these songs, without necessarily putting my usual rappety-rap hat on. But as the album title suggests, a lot of times we find ourselves bumping into the exact things, people and habits that we thought we had left behind. So my hip-hop roots shine through once again, in this weird blend of RnB, AOR and synth sounds. Sasac was my main co-creator on the record, along with some dope music friends such as Kiefer, Mndsgn, Byron The Aquarius, Devin Morrison and more.”

I’ve written about a handful of the album’s singles, including “Triple Double Love,” “Phone Won’t Charge” and “Guest List Etiquette.” And while sonically, the material is a silky smooth and slick synthesis of 80s and 90s synth-led R&B J. Dilla-era hip-hop, the songs themselves reveal a wizened self-awareness that comes from hard-fought personal experience, through narrators, who have come to recognize that they’ve been unintentionally and unwittingly repeating patterns that have made them miserable — and/or unfulfilled. But it ain’t all serious. There’s a playful self-deprecating humor throughout, especially on “Guest List Etiquette.” a track that focuses on a common dilemma for artists across the globe: everyone hitting them up to get on the guest list for their show.

The album’s fourth and latest single the Thundercat-like “Hope/Nope” is a dreamy song centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars and atmospheric synths and an infectious hook. But unlike the album’s previously released material, the song finds its narrator vacillating between hope and despair. Can one hold onto hope when things seem so bleak, uncertain and dystopian? Shit, sometimes it’s just so fucking hard to be human. 

“This is the daydreamer’s anthem on the record, part escapism, part war cry. The rap verse came out sweet but dystopian,” Ivan Ave explains in press notes. “Sasac saves the day on the last verse, with a medieval guitar solo that makes me hopeful again. Hope seems to be the most important overarching theme of the album when I listen back to it. I’ve learned to respect cognitive dissonance as a weapon, a survival instinct maybe, in Darwinian terms. Double edged sword though.”

Directed by Mats Christian Rude Halvorsen, the recently released video for “Hope/Nope” is a contemplative and eerie fever dream — centered around a dream-like logic while evoking the eerie sensation of someone, who’s been in isolation for some extended period of time, walking out into the world. “The video for Hope/Nope came about right after the initial phase of self isolation here in Oslo,” Øygarden explains in press notes. “Mats, Thomas and I really wanted to get out of the house and create something, but we of course had to wait until restrictions were softened up enough. I think we brought that energy into the execution of Mats’ ideas. I think the song is a good fit with that energy. That restlessness combined with a dreamy slumber.”