Clairmont The Sec­ond

Not your typ­i­cal teenage rap­per

NOW Magazine - - CONTENTS - By BEN­JAMIN BOLES

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.” ben­jam­inb@now­toronto.com | @ben­jam­in­boles

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