Tag: experimental hip-hop

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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New Video: Malibu Ken (Aesop Rock and TOBACCO) Releases a Nightmarish and Holiday-Themed Visual for “Tuesday”

Born Ian Matthais Bavitz in Syosset, NY, the Portland, OR-based emcee and producer Aesop Rock is best known for being at the forefront of a collection of underground and alternative hip-hop acts that emerged during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The bulk of his most boundary pushing work was released through El-P’s Definitive Jux Records. Additionally, the Syosset-born, Portland-based emcee has developed a reputation for being a highly-sought after collaborator, working in a number of projects including The Weathermen, Hail Mary Mallon with Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz, The Uncluded with Kimya Dawson and Two of Every Animal with Cage. Importantly, whether as as solo artist or part of a collaborative group, Aesop Rock is considered one of the genre’s more verbose emcees, known for a flow that feature dense and abstract wordplay and complex inner and out rhyme schemes. 

Over the past decade, the Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Thomas Fec, best known as TOBACCO has employed the use of analog synthesizers and tape machines to create material — as a solo artist and as the frontman and creative mastermind of Black Moth Super Rainbow — that rapidly alternates between absurdly bright beauty and the murderously sinister, while evoking a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement and pleasure. 

Malibu Ken, the duo’s collaboration together can trace its origins back to when TOBACCO and Aesop Rock toured together over a decade ago. “I find his production to be something special, and always wanted to see what I could bring to it,” Aesop Rock says in press notes. ” We recently found time to record some songs, and Malibu Ken was born. I brought a few stories to the table, but also did my best to let the production dictate the subject matter throughout. We hope you like the soup.” Now, as you may recall, Rhymesayers Entertainment released the duo’s self-titled full-length debut earlier this year, and with album single “Acid King,” the duo quickly established themselves for crafting some of the most forward-thinking, strangest and boundary pushing hip hop I’ve heard in some time.  

Aptly released today, “Tuesday,” Malibu Ken’s latest single continues on a similar vein as its immediate predecessor as it’s centered around Aesop Rock’s dense and mind-bending bars full of absurdist imagery, pop culture references and ridiculous word play and TOBACCO’s woozy retro-futuristic production consisting of tweeter and woofer rocking beats, chopped up and vocodered vocals and distorted whirring synth arpeggios.  

Directed by longtime Aesop Rock collaborator Rob Shaw, the recently released video for “Tuesday” is centered around familiar holiday-related themes — food, family, obligation and duty but with a nightmarish, fever dream-like logic. 

New Video: Knife Knights’ Release a Hallucinogenic Visual for “Drag Race Legend”

I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Seattle-based emcee, synth player, guitarist and producer Ishmael Butler.  Butler is known as the co-founder of two critically applauded, groundbreaking, JOVM mainstay acts — Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces. About a decade ago, Butler was preparing to publicly emerge from several years of near-complete creative silence. During the summer of 2009, Butler’s Shabazz Palaces quietly self-released a pair of EPs that quickly established the act’s unique sound and aesthetic: Butler’s hyper-literate verses full of complex inner and out rhyme schemes paired with psychedelic sonic textures and refracted rhythms.

When Butler started Shabazz Palaces, he desperately wanted the act to stand on its own strength and not on his long-held reputation. So confidentially was essential; in fact, he adopted a pseudonym for himself. As Shabazz Palaces’ profile and network rapidly expanded, Butler recognized that he needed new monikers for his various creative pursuits and collaborations that would be allow them to stand on their own. Knife Knights, was the name that he devised for his work with the then-Seattle based engineer, producer, songwriter and film composer Erik Blood, who has also been a vital and important collaborator in the Shabazz Palaces Universe. Blood and Butler can trace their collaboration and friendship back to when they were introduced to each other at a Spiritualized show in 2003 through a mutual friend, whom Butler was about to record with. As the story goes, Blood was a diehard and obsessive Digable Planets fan, and as an obsessive fan, he passed along a bootleg copy Blowout Comb for the mutual friend to have Butler sign — and Butler dutifully did so.

Over the course of the next few years, Blood and Butler would have chance encounters and sometimes during those encounters, they’d talk about possibly working together. Several years had passed but when Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. Blood, who’s a huge hip-hop fan has always been an obsessive music listener and fan with wildly eclectic tastes. Butler, on the  other hand, who’s a lifelong hip-hop fan, began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes.

Several years later, when Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. That shouldn’t be surprising — Blood, as a huge hip-hop fan, has a always been an obsessive music listener and fan with eclectic tastes while Butler, a lifelong hip hop fan, began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes. Interestingly, every Shabazz Palaces album has featured a Blood and Butler collaboration, a collaboration that finds the duo specifically focused on and delighting at the intersection of shoegaze, ambient electronica and hip hop, actively and restlessly pushing hip hop towards new psychedelic textures. “He [Blood] takes my ideas and clarifies and pronounces them, helps me realize them,” explains Butler in press notes. “He helps me get to the essence.”

Butler and Blood’s Knife Knights debut, last year’s 1 Time Mirage came as a result of about a decade of collaboration and the development of a very rich and dear friendship.  1 Time Mirage‘s material was recorded over the course of three different recording sessions, interrupted by Butler’s touring schedules with Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets and Blood’s recording projects. The album finds the duo and a cast of collaborators crafting a lysergic soundscape that meshes elements of soul, shoegaze, hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, noise and chaos. 

1 Time Mirage’s latest single is the lysergic and woozy “Drag Rage Legend.” Centered around a wobbling bass line, stuttering beats, bursts of distorted, wailing guitars and Butler’s imitable flow, the much like its immediate predecessor continues with a narcotic yet noisy vibe. (Admittedly, I wonder how the song would sound under the influence of hallucinogens.)

Directed by Joshua M. Johnson, the recently released video for “Drag Race Legend” is a psychedelic tale of wasted youth that follows a sunglasses wearing young man with a penchant for street drag racing, skipping school and getting as high as humanly possible. He proclaims himself a legend, drinks spodie (also known as jungle juice and spodie odie, depending on where in the country you’re from) and parties too much. The video is looks as though it were filmed on rainy and distorted VHS tapes, with wavering explosions of color and fuzz, as the video’s protagonist goes through his daily routine.