Clairmont The Second
Not your typical teenage rapper
CLAIRMONT THE SECOND, BLUES, COLA and DJ FLEX OF ALL TRADES at the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen West), Thursday (July 28). 8 pm, all ages. $10-$15. ticketfly.com.
Clairmont The Second is both painfully aware and proud that he doesn’t fit the mould of the typical teenage rapper.
The Toronto musician’s lush gospel chord progressions, neo-soul influences and idiosyncratic flow have little in common with what’s currently on the charts, but that individuality is why the 18-year-old’s new album, Quest For Milk And Honey, stands out against his competition.
But it’s also clear that the artist born Clairmont Humphrey II wishes his growing fan base included more listeners from his own age group.
“I feel like they’re conditioned to like a certain sound, and I don’t have that sound,” Humphrey says over coffee. “I’m still dealing with it and trying to figure out what it will take. Will it take me blowing up first? Will it take me getting outside the city and getting cosigned for my age group to latch onto this?
“I feel like they should have from the start because I’m their age and doing something cool, but it didn’t happen that way. I think this album could be the one that bridges the gap, though.”
His record release party at the Drake Hotel will be his first headlining show and also his first proper all-ages gig that most of his peers can actually attend, despite growing buzz that’s circled him since his 2013 debut, Becoming A Gentleman. His early work often dealt with the typical teenage issues of high school and girl trouble, and while that innocence is still part of his appeal, he’s increasingly been delving into weightier subjects, like his relationship to the Church.
“A lot of things happened with the Church that I’m not going to get into, but I have a lot of questions and I ask them on the records. It’s more about asking questions – I don’t want to be preaching to people, because I’m like other people and I have questions.”
Humphrey’s productions are unabashedly musical and melodic, which is what many early listeners initially remarked on. But his rapping, which jumps from fast, technical wordplay to introspective spoken word moments, is what people are noticing lately. It’s so easy to get lost in his rhymes and phrases that it takes multiple listens to notice that he doesn’t swear once over the entire album.
“That started because my parents listen to my music, so I tried to not curse,” says Humphrey. “But then it turned into my not needing to curse in my music to make good tracks and good records. I feel like that’s more of a challenge, because sometimes curse words are just filler words, and I try to stay away from filler words and filler lines as much as possible.
“Because of that, I can perform everywhere. There can be kids in the crowd, and I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t have to worry about censoring myself for TV or radio.” firstname.lastname@example.org | @benjaminboles