Pop quiz: what does the hit Broadway musical Hamilton have to do with legendary noise duo Lightning Bolt? If you answered “absolutely nothing,” you’re in for a surprise: the hip-hop collective True Neutral Crew features both Daveed Diggs– who played Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton– and Brian Chippendale, of Lightning Bolt and Black Pus fame. Unlikely bedfellows, it would seem. But not so unlikely when you take Diggs’ other work into account (see: his avant-rap trio Clipping).
Thankfully, True Neutral Crew’s debut album soft rules (Deathbomb Arc) isn’t full of corny rhymes about our Founding Fathers. But it doesn’t sound like Lightning Bolt either: the slow, surreal, druggy vibe makes it closer kin with Diggs’ other work in Clipping. There’s a pasted-together, ramshackle feel to the album, and a constant aura of disorientation, dread, and nausea. That doesn’t mean it takes itself seriously– on the contrary, most of the lyrics are goofy, snotty and satirical. The highlight has to be the verse on “Florence” about a pierogie thinkpiece that didn’t go over well with Polish people. True Neutral Crew is like a cLOUDDEAD for the 2010s, but funkier and rougher around the edges.
Hillary Clinton– reportedly a big fan of Hamilton– probably wouldn’t get down to this.