All Black Everything
September 10, 2016 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Daveed Diggs, recent Tony Award Winner of “Hamilton” fame, just released an Afrofuturistic space opera-themed noise-rap concept album, Splendor & Misery, as part of his experimental rap collective, Clipping.

Diggs says it’s their most political album yet, as an allegorical tale about a lone survivor of a slave rebellion on an interstellar cargo ship. Tracks evoke emancipation-era spirituals (“Long Way Away”) and the Black Lives Matter movement (“Wake Up” and “Baby Don’t Sleep”), while the lyrics reference the works of science fiction authors such as Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, N. K. Jemisin, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

The group made their TV debut on James Corden’s “The Late Late Show," performing the album’s final track, “A Better Place”, and have released two music videos for the album, “Air ‘Em Out” and “Baby Don’t Sleep” (strobe warning).

The full album can be streamed on Youtube.
posted by the_wintry_mizzenmast (35 comments total) 106 users marked this as a favorite
As an added bonus for keen listeners, there's a cipher embedded in the tracks "Interlude 02 (Numbers)" and "Air 'Em Out."
posted by the_wintry_mizzenmast at 6:06 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

posted by Etrigan at 7:14 AM on September 10, 2016 [12 favorites]

In a reversal of H.P. Lovecraft’s concept of cosmic insignificance, the character finds relief in learning that humanity is of no consequence to the vast, uncaring universe. It turns out, pulling the rug out from under anthropocentrism is only horrifying to those who thought they were the center of everything to begin with. Ultimately, the character decides to pilot his ship into the unknown—and possibly into oblivion—instead of continuing on to worlds whose systems of governance and economy have violently oppressed him.

...aaaaannnd bought.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 7:35 AM on September 10, 2016 [32 favorites]

clipping's stuff is really great. Looking forward to digging into this.

Among the many, many gifts that Hamilton has given us, the opportunity for theatre nerds to learn about totally new and experimental music forms is WAY up there for me.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:43 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

For the first time, the first, I opened myself to the benign indifference of the universe.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:44 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've probably listened to this 10 times since yesterday, its like someone designed an album for me between the subject matter and the soundscapes underneath Diggs' fast rapping, its amazing.
posted by hobgadling at 7:52 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Among the many, many gifts that Hamilton has given us, the opportunity for theatre nerds to learn about totally new and experimental music forms is WAY up there for me.

Oh, hey! This is definitely me. I wouldn't have found out about this album without the initial Hamilton connection, and I am *loving* it.
posted by merriment at 8:19 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Corden clip is great. Prog-rap? Look forward to the others. Thanks for posting.
posted by the sobsister at 8:28 AM on September 10, 2016

Everything about this looks amazing.
posted by the thought-fox at 8:31 AM on September 10, 2016

It's an entirely engulfing album - the music and lyrics both create a vivid, complicated cinematic tapestry. It's quite unlike anything I've heard before (including Clipping's previous albums), and I can't get enough of it.

The Genius annotators are on the lyrics, but there's plenty of layers to uncover here, and I feel like we've only scratched the surface so far. (For example, last I checked nobody had made the connection between "the keyword is kemmer" and Ursula K Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.)
posted by harujion at 8:52 AM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Speaking of connections, one would be astonished if the title weren't in some way related to Delany's The Splendor and Misery of Bodies, of Cities - the long-promised and then not-written (although there's a fragment) sequel to Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand.

This looks almost unbearably fascinating. I will tell my SF class about it today and listen to it tomorrow when I have time.
posted by Frowner at 8:59 AM on September 10, 2016 [9 favorites]

Oh, I've totally seen Clipping at a place called Rhinoceropolis. One of the other members had a project called Captain Ahab, which you may (may) have remembered from the closing credits of Snakes on the Brain, where they played this song Snakes on the Brain - it was from winning a contest.

Ahab had a whole concept album about being a teenage woman full of angst, which is absolutely incredible (this is my go-to get up and get moving song). Much of his stuff is slightly disturbing if you're not in the right mood. But it's awesome!

Anyways, so I'm talking to my friend about Captain Ahab, and we're talking about Clipping and my friend's like, "you know that guy won a Tony, right? For Hamilton. He played Jefferson." And it was pretty funny to think NO ONE, including - especially me, thought of the Broadway musicals in this dingy slated-for-demolition music space in a crappy part of Denver, watching this weird three-piece noise/hip hop act, while drinking crappy booze. I'm not ever sure I paid the door of $5. I think I just worked the door for 5 minutes and said, "That's good" (I lived next store for while, that's... what we did).
posted by alex_skazat at 9:08 AM on September 10, 2016

Frowner, I wondered the same thing, then listened to the Late Late Show clip. The book title is explicitly called out in the lyrics.

I'm so excited to dive into the whole thing, I can hardly stand it.
posted by Gorgik at 9:34 AM on September 10, 2016

I think I heard "Clay Ark" in "Baby Don't Sleep"? Even if I misheard it, I'm stoked.
posted by allthinky at 9:38 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, wow -- I liked but didn't love clipping.'s earlier stuff; I was waiting for the work that would really feel like Daveed Diggs and Captain Ahab collaborating, and this is it. Such an electrifying thing to hear Diggs rapping all these deep-cut Le Guin references. Also, I'm totally hearing some The Stars My Destination in the premise and some of the more claustrophobic and paranoid moments. It's so steeped in SFnal history! I can't wait to get into it on Genius and find out where the Jemisin parts are; I didn't catch them the first time through, but I probably just haven't read the right books of hers.
posted by thesmallmachine at 9:41 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I will definitely have to listen to this. I got addicted to their track "wriggle"
posted by Erberus at 10:10 AM on September 10, 2016

Love it already, from the three tracks I've listened to. (And I'm wondering too if he and Janelle Monae might collaborate sometime...)
posted by rtha at 10:42 AM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

By the way, does anyone know what the big electronic setup with all the cables in the background of the Corden performance was? I haven't got a clue beyond "it probably makes noise...?".
posted by harujion at 11:04 AM on September 10, 2016

I've been listening to this all day and it's fantastic. 2016 may have been a sad year in some ways so far, but it's been pretty great for music.
posted by frimble at 11:07 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

ocular shenanigans, I am well into reformation of lovecraftian tropes into less racist ones. Double bought!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 11:09 AM on September 10, 2016

OK, I've listened to this through three times today. Thanks!
posted by moonmilk at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Harujion: It's a modular synthesizer.
posted by rhizome at 11:34 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

They finally sent a poet.
posted by BrashTech at 11:36 AM on September 10, 2016 [21 favorites]

Thanks rhizome - that's awesome; I'm learning some fascinating new stuff here!
posted by harujion at 12:07 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Amazing. Bought!
posted by rodlymight at 1:27 PM on September 10, 2016

So, apparently the string of NATO letters in "Interlude 02 (Numbers)" decrypt (using a Vignere ciphere with key "Kemmer" from "Air 'Em Out") to:


Does this mean anything to anybody here? Cause it don't to me.
posted by the_wintry_mizzenmast at 1:56 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Amy Clark?
posted by domo at 2:34 PM on September 10, 2016

Yes, but Amy Clark who? Another literary reference? A person? A code for something else?
posted by harujion at 3:16 PM on September 10, 2016

clipping subverts expectations once again by not saying "it's clipping, bitch" in the first track
posted by valrus at 3:26 PM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

the use of traditional hymns remind me of Mantana Robert's use of I Came to the Garden Alone.
posted by PinkMoose at 5:04 PM on September 10, 2016

Clearly, the target is a myclark.
posted by Etrigan at 5:10 PM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Just listened to it straight through. Thank you for posting, the_wintry_mizzenmast. And thanks to those who pointed the way to Genius, which was great to have alongside. This grabbed me and held me, which doesn't often happen with me--I'll often get distracted by some other bit of music--so that was great to feel.
posted by the sobsister at 5:36 PM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes, big thank you for posting! I have no idea how long it would have taken me to come across this otherwise. Left Hand of Darkness was my absolute favorite book for quite some time, so I'm especially tickled to see it show up here.

I found the post while sitting in a plane waiting for it to take off, so I knew I couldn't listen to the youtube stream- and thus made an impulse buy of the whole album. Only the first four tracks downloaded before we took off but that was enough to say I'd made the right decision!

Now, nap, or listen to the whole album again? hmm...
posted by nat at 2:47 AM on September 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

My mind is bent. Hit me on the ansible.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:09 PM on September 12, 2016

Clipping on Song Exploder
posted by Eideteker at 10:43 AM on September 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

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