Recommend if you like: Industrial music, science fiction stories, spoken word poetry

Expectation: clipping. is an experimental hip hop group composed of Daveed Diggs (who won a Tony award for his role in Broadway smash “Hamilton”) and the production duo of Jonathon Snipes and William Hutson. The group is known for their noisy, industrial take on hip hop, as well as Daveed’s extremely technical rapping. Splendor & Misery marks the group’s 3rd full-length project.

TRACK-BY-TRACK

  • Long Way Away (Intro) – Just a perfect intro to the album’s setting. The melody is simple and lamenting, but the vocal distortion gives it the proper sci-fi feeling.
  • The Breach – Daveed is a lyrical monster, but in the story, he’s a computer. The background noise imitates the white noise inside an airplane, and its easy to imagine the crew listening in silence as the computer rattles off alerts and recommended protocols.
  • All Black – The escapee is free but still trapped in the ship. Daveed’s wordplay and irregular meter have more in common with spoken word poetry than a typical rap verse, and the arrhythmic notes of percussion that form the beat convey the sense that all of this is building to something.
  • Interlude 01 (Freestyle) – A direct look at the escapee without the filter of the ship, but a pretty neat little verse to convey the almost unhinged level of stir-craze that he’s reached.
  • Wake Up – The escapee makes up his mind to leave everything he’s ever known behind, and fragments of his old life appear in his dreams during hypersleep.
  • Long Way Away – A gospel track lamenting Cargo 2331’s permanent separation from his friends and family.
  • True Believer – In this song, the story is effectively confirmed to be an allegory for African slavery; Daveed describes how mankind’s early voyages into space attracted the attention of other species who quickly came to claim humans for their own uses. Somewhat dull musically, but beneficial to the album as a whole.
  • Air ‘Em Out – A clever portrayal of gangster rap in a sci-fi setting, riddled with references to classic science fiction literature.
  • Interlude 03 (Freestyle) – Cargo 2331 has accepted his new life and the cost of his freedom.
  • Break the Glass – The acceptance shown in Interlude 03 is shown to be a facade, and Cargo 2331 is desperate for any kind of company, alternately begging the computer to talk to him and threatening to destroy it if it doesn’t.
  • Story 5 – An alternate version or possibly another look at clipping’s previous song ‘Story’ that I (and seemingly no one else) can really figure out the significance of here.
  • Baby Don’t Sleep – There’s some cool stuff happening in the lyrics here, but the volume and abrasiveness of the background sounds just make me not want to hear it.
  • A Better Place – The story resolves with the escapee choosing to remain optimistic and continue to search for freedom rather than return to safety and be retaken. The playful, spacy synths seem overwhelmingly hopeful in comparison with the harshness of most of the album, even as they are eventually overwhelmed by a mountain of static and feedback.

Overall: I’ve never been a huge fan of clipping; Daveed Diggs is a great lyricist, but his voice becomes a bit irritating overtime, exacerbated by the constant barrage of abrasive, noisy production. If you like industrial music as well as hip hop, than this is probably the album of your dreams, but for me, its often more fun to read than to hear.

Score: 6/10

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