Splendor & Misery
Splendor & Misery is the second studio album by experimental hip hop group clipping., released on September 9, 2016. The music video for "Baby Don't Sleep" was released on July 26, 2016. The second single and music video "Air 'Em Out" was released on August 24, 2016.
The album, with a mix of futuristic and classical instrumentation, tells the story of an enslaved person, referred to as Cargo #2331, in the future in outer space. It is an example of afrofuturism. Some of the songs also feature guest vocals from gospel group Take 6. The album was nominated for the .
Most of the songs are written and delivered from the perspective of the artificial intelligence within the cargo ship and Cargo #2331, the only human still alive in the vessel. As a riot breaks out on the ship, Cargo #2331 enters the bridge and kills the original flight crew, leaving him stranded with only the computer to keep him company. The A.I. reports an S.O.S message, but after a prolonged amount of time watching him as he begins to suffer cabin fever, rapping to himself as he attempts to control and reroute the ship, it begins to express romantic feelings for #2331, and calls off the message, threatening to kill any pursuers. The A.I. implies that there are no habitable planets for him to reach. Eventually, #2331 begins to cause havoc on the ship to try to get the attention of the A.I. After this fails, the A.I. breaks from its limitations and berates him for lashing out at it, giving #2331 clarity to keep living and searching for a place to escape. In the end, the A.I. muses on the life #2331 misses, asking for confirmation several times before giving him random coordinates, and flying off as the album ends with abrasive noise.
The album explores themes of Afrofuturism, referencing several science fiction novels. These include the works of Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany (whose unfinished sequel to Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand is titled The Splendor and Misery of Bodies, of Cities). A direct reference is made to Kendrick Lamar's verse from Big Sean's "Control".
At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 76% based on 11 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The album was nominated for the 2017 , the second time ever for a music album following 1970's Blows Against the Empire by Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship. In 2019 Pitchfork ranked Splendor & Misery as the 30th greatest industrial album of all time.