♫♪  Guest Mix: Deathbomb Arc - 18 Years of Experimental Hip-Hop

Art: Isaac Hicks

For nearly two decades, Deathbomb Arc has been at the forefront of various experimental musics, dropping bold, challenging releases that have proved well ahead of their time. Some of the label’s better-known artists include Xiu Xiu, Deerhoof, clipping., and Black Pus (Lightning Bolt’s Brian Chippendale), but it’s also responsible for acclaimed underground releases by artists like Foot Village, Cock E.S.P., Gang Wizard, and Yellow Swans, as well as early music from the likes of Elysia Crampton (as E&E), Julia Holter, and Death Grips.

Deathbomb Arc continues on strong. The label recently announced the debut album from rap group True Neutral Crew (ft. Signor Benedick The Moor, Margot Padilla, and label head Brian Kinsman) and a joint release with Sub Pop for clipping.’s new full-length, due in the fall.

TMT hit up Deathbomb Arc, specifically Brian Kinsman (True Neutral Crew, ex-Foot Village, ex-Gang Wizard, artist/writer), for a guest mix, which has resulted in this monster of a release called 18 Years of Experimental Hip-Hop. True to its title, the mix focuses on the label’s experimental hip-hop side, much of which is not available on Bandcamp or iTunes.

Read Brian’s description below, followed by the mix itself. And be sure to check out Deathbomb Arc’s limited bundle of experimental hip-hop, which features Death Grips, clipping., Captain Ahab, Signor Benedick The Moor, They Hate Change, and more ($75 worth of music for $25!).

1998. From my room in a Berkeley duplex shared with fellow musicians Miguel Mendez and Joel Jerome, I started Deathbomb Arc in order to put out music from a favorite local act, Turbine, I thought didn’t get enough love and support. I figured the name of the label should just reflect some of the various things I was into. “Death” as a reference to Metal. Bomb as a reference to Hip-Hop. Arc, as in electrical, for an obtuse electronic music reference. I quickly learned that those just primarily trying to market and sell music hate things that break the norm. Ameoba Records didn’t want to carry my first release because it was “confusing” that it contained both rock and electronic elements - a statement that seems absolutely absurd now. Of course, a decade and a half later I’d be told the same sort of thing about clipping.’s combination of noise and rap. And 100% of the time, people with these fearful, conservative thoughts are on the wrong side of history. Unfortunately, the gates of the industry are typically guarded by such cowards. Deathbomb Arc has always been about smashing those gates down, and maybe even becoming a better example of a gatekeeper ourselves.

We’ve never solely been about hip-hop, but it has always been an important part of who we are. My own band, back in 1998, Rose For Bohdan raised eyebrows for even just splashing hip-hop ideas onto experimental pop. The early side of 00’s saw Deathbomb Arc release tribute comps to both No Limit Records and Cash Money (I actually got hate mail a few times saying that associating these labels with punk was an insult to punk music. Fucking racists, I tell you). By the time indie press decided it was okay to embrace hip-hop in the 10’s, then suddenly noise rap was too weird for them (let’s not forget that Pitchfork tried to write off Death Grips as Limp Bizkit style rap rock before they got signed to a major). Perseverance has not necessarily proven to be a solution, but with 18 years under Deathbomb’s belt now, I’ve at least seen some pretty amazing things happen for some truly groundbreaking artists. It remains an honor to work with so many talented people.

Here is a mix showing just some of the experimental hip-hop we’ve gotten to be involved with over the years - including three never before heard tracks from upcoming Deathbomb Arc releases: Dialer (a new project ft. William Hutson of clipping.), the debut True Neutral Crew full length (ft. Signor Benedick The Moor), and the 2nd album from the angelic Hareld. Some true long lost gems here as well!!

If anyone wants to know more about a particular track or band, help on finding a download, or anything, I’m here to help: brian@kinsmanandmeng.com

Stream below, and subscribe to our podcast here.

[00:00] The Nether Carols - “Dick In My Ear (Still Couldn’t Fuck With My Sound)” - from ‘Why Is Anything Forbidden: A Tribute to No Limit Records’ cd comp (2002)
[03:10] Hareld - “Meet You Under The Trap Door” [excerpt] - from a forthcoming cassette (2016)
[05:00] Daveed Diggs - “Trappers” - from ‘Small Things To A Giant’ cassette (2015)
[09:00] Abdu Ali - “Banjee Musick” [excerpt] - from ‘The Best of Abdu Ali via Baltimore’ cassette (2015)
[10:11] Partnerships - “Fourteen Steps To Heaven” [excerpt] - from a 12” single (2002) *
[11:58] Shadi (formerly Shady Van Gogh) - “Apostasy (Skate or Die)” - from ‘No Children’ bandcamp comp (2015)
[17:15] Dialer - “Universe ft. They Hate Change” [excerpt] - from the forthcoming ‘CDr’ cassette (2016)
[19:03] clipping. - “ends” - from ‘CLPPNG’ cd/vinyl (2014) ^
[23:31] Captain Ahab - “All About The Bytches (Chawpt n’ Syzzurpt by DJ Vanilla Tussin)” [excerpt] - from ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Booty!” 12” (2005)
[24:12] True Neutral Crew - “God Is Bored” - from the forthcoming ‘Soft Rules’ 2xcd (2016)
[26:39] Death Grips - “Poser Killer” - from the Deathbomb Digital Singles Club Year 1 (2011)
[28:14] VIPER VENOM - “GOOSEBUMPS” - from ‘EVIL” bandcamp comp (2014)
[31:43] Mad Murderz - “DeathWish” - from ‘Lemon Pledge’ cassette (2014)
[34:13] Lil Pocketknife - “Dragon Slayer” - from a split 7” w/ BARR (2004)
[36:13] Signor Benedick The Moor - “Dragon x Black Knight” from ‘sbthemoor’ cassette (2014)
[41:20] They Hate Change - “Remember?” - from ‘Cycles’ cassette (2015)
[43:40] I.E. - “After The Club” - from ‘No Children’ bandcamp comp (2015)
[46:07] Captain Ahab - “Acting Hard” - from ‘The End of Irony’ 12”/cd (2010)
[51:07] BLKHRTS - “Satan” - from ‘No Children’ bandcamp comp (2015)
[55:05] Beach Balls - “Case Sensitivity” - from ‘The Fruit Will Rot vol. 3’ 9x3” cdr (2007)

All tracks are Deathbomb Arc releases, unless otherwise noted:
* self-released
^ on Sub Pop

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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