Review: The Deep by Clipping

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 ( ) 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?”

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.”

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 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:


7 thoughts on “Review: The Deep by Clipping

  1. I’m hoping 2 years of Clipping bodes well for next year, b/c I’m totally nominating Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer”. It’s dystopian, but you can dance to it. The whole thing is 49 minutes, so easily BDP Short.

    And not only is she a big voice in Afro-futurism (for years), but she was in “Hidden Figures” and co-star Tessa Thompson was in “Thor: Ragnarok”, so they have Hugo form.

    I guess I need a cabal, but the only previous Hugo cabal hates people like her…

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    1. And tying it back to the previous cabal, my first exposure to Janelle Monáe was from ‘Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons’ at Eruditorium Press…

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      1. She is the ArchAndroid, y’know.
        Afrofuturism personified.

        (Also feminist and queer as can be, with clever lyrics that she enunciates, a wicked sense of humor, and catchy tunes. I have PYNK as an earworm now after my repeated viewings. I’m old, white, straight, unstylish, and uncool but it still works for me.)

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