Los Angeles based experimental hip-hop group Clipping were a welcome addition to the 2017 Hugo Ballot with their album Splendor & Misery. I really enjoyed the depth of what they had created. This year they have a single song in the Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form ballot.
I’m not adept at reviewing music beyond like/dislike but here the issue is looking at their song “The Deep” as a piece of drama. Written for an Afrofuturism special of This American Life (https://www.thisamericanlife.org/623/we-are-in-the-future ) the song is apparently based on a different bands science-fictional backstory. Michigan electro band Drexciya based their music around a fantasy backstory of an underwater civilisation in the Atlantic:
“Every Drexciya EP navigates the depths of the Black Atlantic, the submerged worlds populated by Drexciyans, Lardossans, Darthouven Fish Men and Mutant Gillmen. In the sleevenotes to The Quest, their ’97 concept double CD, the Drexciyans are revealed to be a marine species descended from ‘pregnant America-bound African slaves’ thrown overboard ‘by the thousands during labour for being sick and disruptive cargo. Could it be possible for humans to breathe underwater? A foetus in its mother’s womb is certainly alive in an aquatic environment. Is it possible that they could have given birth at sea to babies that never needed air?” https://www.globaldarkness.com/articles/drexciya.htm
Clipping’s song starts with a heavily modified electronic-style voice explaining:
“Our mothers were pregnant African women thrown overboard while crossing the Atlantic Ocean on slave ships. We were born breathing water as we did in the womb. We built our home on the sea floor, unaware of the two-legged surface dwellers until their world came to destroy ours. With cannons, they searched for oil beneath our cities. Their greed and recklessness forced our uprising. Tonight, we remember.” https://genius.com/Clipping-the-deep-lyrics
And the song then recounts the conflict.
It’s certainly an engaging idea – a reprise of resistance to colonialism and first world hunger for resources at the expense of indigenous people. However, as a five minute song it neccesarily lacked the depth of story and drama that could be conveyed in an album. There’s a basic story there but if we treat it only as a piece of drama it is lacking and that doesn’t really feel fair to it.
Here’s a review that does it more justice http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com/2017/08/22/clipping-go-deep-on-afrofuturism-with-new-track/ That’s the same blog that did such a good job of explaining Splendor & Misery. There’s also a link to the track at the end and here also: