Canadian rapper and musician, Clairmont “The” II, undoubtedly brought the heat this winter with the release of his solo album, ‘Do You Drive?’ – taking creative control by writing, performing, producing, mixing and mastering the entire album on top of also having artistic direction for the album’s stunning visuals, working with photographer Beee for the cover art – who also worked as the cinematographer for his music video, “Grip”.
From listening to the album, you can hear the amount of effort and time put into this masterpiece as the tracks tell stories and follows melodies that allow you to tap into his vision.
“Do You Drive” wouldn’t be Clairmont’s first solo project, as this would be the follow up to his LP titled “Lil Mont From The Ave” released back in September 2017, amongst other projects. The 8-track album showcases Clairmont’s broad ranging style with songs like “Grip” – to “Grain.” Keeping our ear to the grounds, we are anticipating seeing the Toronto-native tour across Canada and even performing on an international scale.
Watch the music video for “Grip” by Clairmont The Second:
XMPL got the chance to talk to Clairmont the Second on his new album “Do You Drive?” – talking about the meaning behind the project and certain songs, his creative process and his involvement with the cover art. Listen to Clairmont The Second’s “Do You Drive” album and read the full exclusive interview below:
XMPL – Sneaker Buddha: It’s hard to tie you down to one sound as you capture the audience with a vast amount of flows. Fast lyrical word play in songs like ‘Stories’ or a real conversation in tracks like ‘Life’s Good’. As an artist who can carry many different attributes, why is it important to experiment with new sounds and is there a fear of debuting a new style?
Clairmont “The” Second: I think it’s more important to not feel restricted artistically rather than JUST experimenting with new sounds. I try not to think about what I’m doing too much because then it stresses me out; I just put down what naturally comes to me. I do sometimes have an overall idea of what I want to do artistically but I never force it. I always remember I make what I make because I love music and I feel like people who love music, not a genre, will love what I’m doing. I’m confident in the music and I love what I’m making so any fear I have is extremely short-lived.
You have never been shy of mentioning Toronto in your
music, you hold the flame proudly. How would you describe your growth as a
musician coming up through Toronto?
I’m a better artist now. I’m a better person now. My lyrics are better, my beats are better, my arranging is better, my singing voice is better, etc. I feel like my musicality and maturity has grown drastically each few months, which you can hear in the music and that comes from me being open to learning and practicing. It’s kind of a weird question, haha.
Now Toronto has cemented it’s self in Hip-Hop with
many talented artists and producers, but Canada as a whole gets overlooked when
it comes to Hip-Hop from time to time. What do you think the Canadian Hip-Hop
scene is missing?
I can mainly only speak for Toronto but I don’t think it’s really the Canadian Hip-Hop scene in particular that needs something, I think it’s everything surrounding it that’s causing us to be overlooked. We have out of touch people on a handful our juries; I feel like a good handful of listeners here are less likely to share an artist like me rather than someone who’s the polar opposite of me. I think Toronto more specifically needs to be open to something different and not be afraid of what anyone else thinks. Who cares if a song has chord change ups in it, who cares if he’s talking about feelings, who cares if he’s not using auto-tune, who cares that he doesn’t have a co-sign. Mark my word the day I get co-signed from a famous artist or big organization from the states, everybody here who’s heard of me will finally listen to that recommendation from their friend that they shrugged off initially because “who’s Clairmont The Second?” That’s not to say I can’t blow up based on word of mouth alone, it’s just unlikely, I have yet to see it happen.
You recently released your newest project ‘Do You
Drive?’ Can you walk us through the vision and meaning behind this project?
From a production perspective I wanted to make an album that sounded like a late night drive. A few years back that was my favorite thing and I felt like I could put a soundtrack to it. As for what the project means, it’s an album about Reminiscence, Reflection, and Recapture. If you listen to the album there’s a lot of me bringing up memories and analyzing them. The whole album is me trying to recapture that feeling I once had as a child where I was ignorant to the real world. That’s not only in the lyrics but it’s in my sound selection, and the type of beats I decided to make.
Your song ‘Grip’ was a standout track before the
release of ‘Do You Drive?’ What was the meaning behind that track?
“Grip” is just one of those songs that are about everything. It’s ultimately a song about me. There isn’t one main theme hanging over the entire track but really a bunch of them. I’ll leave it for the listener to decide.
Your track ‘Grace’ was a very haunting track, it
carried out different vibes and melodies with in the track. Who were some of
your inspirations outside of Hip-Hop that opened your mind to experimenting
with different vocal styles?
My inspirations are things I grew up on. Gospel, Neo-Soul, R&B, Jazz, Funk; I don’t even look at it as experimenting with different vocal styles. It took me so long to make a song like it because of my lack of skill vocally and production wise. It was just about that time.
Why did you only choose to put 8 tracks on this
I didn’t want to force it. The album didn’t feel malnourished. It worked out perfectly because people’s attention spans are a lot smaller these days and people aren’t trying to listen to a 15-song project from someone they have never heard before. I feel like this album is a proper introduction to who I am and what I can do. It feels full and complete, and it only takes up an episode of Young Justice to take it in.
Out of the 8 tracks which songs meant the most to you
“Word”. I wrote about my late cousin on it, I wrote about how I don’t know what’s happening in my head because of it, more childhood memories, my faith, me in a nutshell at the moment. I feel like it’s not only a song people need but it’s a song I need. I feel like I’m out of my head more once it’s put down on paper and recorded. It’s also probably my favorite beat I’ve ever made and it features my favorite vocal arrangement I’ve ever put together.
How much of the cover art process were you involved in
and why did that one speak to you?
I’m involved in everything to do with me. The photo was shot by my right hand “Beee” and ideas were basically coming to me as we were shooting. I’m actually the one who edited the photos. I felt like that cover perfectly captures what the album feels like.
This was my favorite project of 2019 thus far. What
else can we expect from you this year and do you think you will be doing any
live performances in Canada?
I appreciate that, it’s my favorite project of 2019 too, that’s if I don’t drop another one this year which I probably won’t. Expect some videos to accompany the album. I will be doing some Canadian shows this year but nothing to announce yet.