William Austin Clay
While Counterzine was introduced to the decidedly off-kilter world of William Austin Clay via the inclusion of standout track “Flip” on Peach Bloom’s Lonestar: A Texas Friends and Family Compilation, he’s hardly a new face. Notably formerly of Denton’s Blessin’, Clay has since embarked on a solo project which started off within the realms of DIY art pop and has since transformed into one of the most fascinating (and to old, traditional heads, potentially blasphemous) takes on hip hop today with last year’s Beat Is Trash and now its follow-up, …Oops!
Denton is Texas’ top outsider artist farm, and it doesn’t get a whole lot more outsider than this, with Clay balancing a slew of elements generally understood as in opposition to each other. He make liberal use of auto-tune, singing and rapping over highly irregular drum and bass beats with an awkward yet controlled sense of flow and spitting socially conscious lyrics that smartly don’t feel the need to obfuscate their message by being overly complicated. “2%” tackles the permeating influence of social media, where everything is out there, immediately available and overwhelming, and the exhaustion involved with cutting through the bullshit, sharing your true self with other people (“Click on the click-bait like what? / Read bout the deep state like huh? / Got a few notes 20 tabs open / Boutta go pay for some buzz / Getting the likes is a must / Got a private account for the subs / Watching for clones / Flying a drone / They getting blocked if I can’t trust / They got me thinking that none of this is even real / But sometimes it feel like the only thing that I can feel”), and reinventing yourself with an eternal log of everything you’ve ever been floating around (“Hoping it ain’t too late / To change / Update / New user name”).
It’s no secret that hip hop and punk are in many ways two sides of the same coin, and face many of the same problems, primarily fans who think a genre built on breaking the constraints of what came before and the spirit of rebellion should sound a certain way. …Oops doesn’t sound anything like what people conjure in their minds as hip hop, but that makes in more in line with its true ideals than most projects. More importantly, it’s fresh, new, and adds something to the greater conversation about artistic expression. Nobody else really sounds like this, and that’s immensely valuable.
Favorite tracks: “Air It Out”, “2%”
Music videos for “Air It Out” and “2%”:
Rating: Strongly Recommended
You can purchase William Austin Clay’s …Oops! here.