Album of the Day: clipping., “Splendor and Misery”

“Oblivion is preferable to white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism.” That’s what clipping. producer William Hutson told Red Bull Music Academy earlier this month. On Splendor & Misery, clipping.’s third album, the Los Angeles noise-rap trio embraces those words as both ethos and mission. The album melds Afrofuturism and Afropessimism to tell the tale of a runaway slave who pilots his sentient mothership as far away as possible from this planet, its prejudice, and its pain.

As with George Clinton and Sun Ra, space is the place for clipping.’s evolution. On “All Black” and “Wake Up” Splendor & Misery’s production hisses and clicks, unburdened by the gravitational pull of contemporary hip-hop. Instead of booming 808s, clipping.’s songs center around vocalist Daveed Diggs. Diggs jumps seamlessly from his role in Hamilton’s reimagined past to clipping’s future fiction, firing off tales of desolation with the icy precision of Scarface and Raekwon. On “Air ‘Em Out,” he flips musique concrete into interstellar trap. “Baby Don’t Sleep” harkens back to clipping.’s debut, Midcity, glacial pockets of sound subsumed by walls of noise. These tracks, along with Splendor & Misery’s Negro spiritual interludes, showcase a group that’s unafraid to bury old roots in new galaxies. Enjoy the oblivion.

—Nnamdi Bawsism

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