Clipping. are an LA-based rap noise trio composed of Jonathan Snipes, William Hutson and Daveed Diggs who are releasing an album called Splendor & Misery today via Sub Pop Records. The record, their third full-length including an initial Bandcamp release, is an absolutely fantastic body of work that’s couched primarily in aggressive, industrial noise punctuated by gorgeous, sweeping synths to present a fragmented Afrofuturist narrative. Splendor & Misery is a dystopian concept record anchored by mind-numbing, elastic rapping of Diggs, the sole MC of the group.
Perhaps due to Diggs’ recent turn as a member of the Hamilton cast, some people seem to believe this album would be better served on a theater’s stage, minimizing its cosmic scope to the presence of a narrative arc and sci-fi themes and allusions. That line of reasoning is already offensively myopic, but perhaps especially so for anyone who witnessed Clipping.’s live performance on The Late Late Show With James Corden on Thursday evening.
For their first television performance, the trio performed against the flickering backdrop of a modular synth wall (among other elements) with live production from Snipes and Hutson, and Diggs delivering the gut-wrenching lyrics to “A Better Place” with his signature, astonishing precision.
The song seeks to look outward in a universe that already rejects and belittles, puzzling over the pull of Earth’s memories and the possibilities of the cosmos. It is gripping in headphones, a car stereo, on a turntable, on the tiny stage inside of Amoeba Records and in CBS’ television studio. It is magnificent in an all purpose event space in the middle of nowhere in Santa Monica. There was no fourth wall to be found in any of these scenarios, nor need of one.
Their songcraft, particularly on this track, is full of both splendor and misery, the album’s titular and perhaps most compelling phrase, which is a hat-tip in itself to an unfinished science fiction novel by the legendary science fiction author Samuel R. Delany. Even the small, unlikely collection of people who composed the studio audience on the Late Late Show felt the power of this music — and James Corden certainly did, as he asked the group to perform another track, too. For now, you get this rendition above… as long as baby, you don’t sleep too much.
Wasn’t it another great sci-fi author who once posited that, in fact, all the world’s a stage? For those who aren’t asleep at the wheel, Splendor & Misery proves that a thousand times over. Get it here.