By Cole Parker
Dystopian sci-fi concept albums have a surprisingly storied history in hip hop. From Deltron 3030’s self-titled debut to Die Antwoord predecessor Constructus Corporation and their two-hour epic The Ziggurat to Lil Wayne calling himself a Martian (maybe not that one).
Noise rap group Clipping has decided to take their own swing at the concept with their fourth release, Splendor & Misery. The group is fronted by Tony Award-winning rapper Daveed Diggs, whose rapid-fire flow fits as intimidatingly over the near acapella-like sparse arrangements as it does on the frequent ultra harsh blasts of feedback, provided by producers Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson.
Clipping has always played with the idea of genre friction with their signature mish-mash of harsh noise and hip hop. Splendor & Misery takes that dynamic a step further, jumping back and forth between styles at will. From industrial, to post-rock, to hymn-like Barbershop quartet sing-songs, the group varies their style drastically from track to track. The group maintains cohesion through this sonic chaos by following the journey of an escaped man from a slave colony and the ship that he commandeers. The lyricism subverts mainstream hip-hop conventions by repurposing their meaning and using them in their sci-fi setting. Diggs’ lines employ frequent references to hip-hop culture (Kendrick’s “Control” verse) and science fiction (The Dispossessed, Clay’s Ark, etc.) in the group’s effort to blend the two. This exploration of sonic and narrative space makes Clipping’s Splendor & Misery an interesting and compelling blend of genres.Clipping, Splendor & Misery