We all have our own endeavours and goals that we aim to achieve, because a lot of us find it necessary to have much success and want to be able to provide for their loved ones, which is understandable. There’s a lot that comes with the territory of getting to that point of life, and that’s why the journey (or ‘quest,’ if you would) is what’s cherished the most. The experiences in which we go through to attain said goals are what shape us into the human beings we transform into at the end of the road, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. You hear it in sports rhetoric, and for many award acceptance speeches – it’s all about the journey. For Clairmont The Second, his journey has been started prior to this album, but at this point, he’s really setting the course for where he aims to be, and that’s a step that a lot of artists reach which defines what their impact will be in respect to their fans & how it will elevate or deescalate their careers.
Coincidentally enough, having Moses (Lemonhope) as the first song of the album to come out and say that he wants to be a leader but isn’t sure of whether the people are deserving, it’s a bold statement. But the ferocity of the flow & lyrics suggest that really he isn’t here for the games, and older songs have had Clairmont state his boredom of other rappers (especially in this day in age), so he’s all about creating some change. There is no absence of confidence in his persona, but that’s not the only thing that I like about him as an artist. The ability to really show off your personality and just be honest about who you are, is what gravitates me to the artists that I enjoy. It’s hard to readily identify who’s really about what they say in their lyrics, but with Clairmont, it’s usually and always genuine. Coolest Loser is a track that I wish came out when I was in high school, because it’s pretty relatable. Clairmont recently graduated, and since he’s acquired some success, you know people who dissed usually run back to get a hail up or two – nize it.
One thing that Clairmont certainly has love for and mentions often, are the ladies. And really, who can’t love them? Honestly. It starts off on the hook for ‘Coolest Loser,’ then Girls, Women, Ladies & Too Many (both knock) takeover with full blown ‘a(we)dmiration’ for them, and that’s not a bad thing at all. “Hella girls” got stuck in my head, and truly it will get stuck in yours. The vibes that Clairmont bring can stretch from the soulful (by his Gospel influence), the Jazz, and the modern-day turn up, but not in a sense where there’s no cookie-cutter feeling to the music, but rather authentic. “All these lames sound alike, so they’re losing the same” is a line (from Owning The City) that, again, gives you his viewpoint on how he sees the rest of his ‘competition.’ He’s really in his own lane and continues to prove it. He puffs up his chest a bit more on Stability & Respect, given that those are two things that he strives for (outside of more money, of course). How that leads directly into A Declaration is magnificent, and it’s really one of my favourite songs on the album. It was released prior to the album, so I definitely had more time with it, but the feeling is still intact.
People in Toronto love to rep where they’re from if it’s not the city as a whole. Especially if you’ve lived in a hood of some sort. Me being from the East, I’ll always rep Scarborough – point blank, period. Clairmont hails from Weston Road (before Drake put it on an album) and you’ll never not hear him state that whether if it’s at a live show or on wax. Ride that 89 TTC bus with pride, sir (hopefully not for too long). The flow’s infectious on this track alone, and it’s the standout because it’s well rounded from the beat, to the hook, to the shifting dynamics in delivery. It’s just great. Ignorant is the opposite of what I thought it would be when I saw it on the tracklist. I thought it would be the ratchet type, but it’s melodic and a groovy two-stepper. Like I almost felt the need to break off a salsa step or two just for the feel. Healthy sonic balance on this album. Not too much of one particular sound or the other. This would likely be the 3rd act of the movie because it gets into a theme that digs into his faith and his experience growing up in Church. It gives me a vibe that I got from Kendrick Lamar during his EP & OD days, because he would often have songs (and has done many of during his career thus far) that challenge his faith and provide lessons as to where faith in a higher power was believable or skeptical. These were definitely questions I had as a kid and are the reasons why I don’t go to church like I used to. Clairmont’s words echo my sentiments, especially when you grow up with a God-fearing family that paints this portrait of how Church is supposed to be like, but how it actually is. There was definitely a time when we as kids saw the world as this great thing to be excited about, but as you got older, you realized it wasn’t all that great all the time. This song will resonate with a lot of people. It’s a heavy hitter in the feels.
This seems to be the portion of the album where you get the more introspective songs, because Worth (featuring Cola – shout out to him one time) gives you a healthy dose of bars all throughout and really it’s all about what your life’s worth, knowing your self-worth. It’s forever an ongoing question, but when you come to have an understanding of just who you are, what your talents are, and realizing that you won’t settle for less, then you can’t lose. I mean, everyone takes an ‘L’ here and there, but you know what you want out of yourself and you’re not compromising yourself to satisfy the needs of others – it’s strictly for you and you alone. People watch the success from afar, but you only allow a certain few to actually get in.
The Black experience is an interesting one, regardless if you’re a Man, Woman, or Child. As we have constantly lived through and experienced watching on TV or more so online thanks to social media, Black people are not immune to the threats of racism or other acts of violence even if you’re an entertainer. In the same breath, we’re still individuals and can be taken out at any moment. It’s not the greatest thing to live with, but in the back of many people’s minds, there’s that “I wonder if I’ll make it through the day” thought that comes to mind, either out of paranoia, anxiety or wonderment. Temporary emphasizes that everything in life is just that.
“My life expectancy’s not guaranteed
So love and family is all I need
It only takes a second to be gone.”
Clairmont’s hook game is proper, for lack of a better term. Musically, he knows what he’s doing and is able to express his thoughts in creative fashion. The addition of Blues on the song (lovely voice I’ve been blessed to hear live) enhances the vibe that was already put in place, and it really can do no wrong.
No Favors is that last turn up song on the album that is necessary for entertainment, but again reiterates that there are no handouts on your way up. You have to go up and get it yourself, because truly no one else is going to (nor should they) do it for you. I had to catch myself Milly Rocking like a villain all over this one, but it’s for the right reasons. There are many things for him to be thankful for and appreciative of when it comes to his family, which has been his main circle of influence. The journey is not yet done, but it’s necessary to acknowledge where you are at any significant stage of life.
Seguing from that thought, Hallelujah is the last song on the album, and if you thought that there weren’t enough comparisons with Clairmont & Chance The Rapper, then this song wouldn’t exactly help your theory, because it would sound like something Chance would do, although Clairmont already pointed out that the Gospel influence ran deep and he has a strong music background (coincidence exists). It’s a strong finish that brings back his resounding faith and places him (convincingly) in the conversation of really who is next up in the city to take off and go places (there are already many). It’s something that should be celebrated, as this is a young man who is already a talented threat to the game. He writes, produces, mixes & masters his own music, and it’s quality. Not something that’s here today and gone tomorrow.
That being said, this album surprised the hell out of me, and I’m glad that it surpassed my expectations. Whenever it comes down to the talent that the city provides, it tends to be hit or miss, and that hometown bias isn’t something that you want to feed into just because you’re from here. I can genuinely say that this is one of the better albums overall that I’ve heard this year, and should go on whatever ‘best of 2016’ list at the end of the year, because I feel like it’ll hold up well long enough for it to get the respect it deserves. The journey to success is a swiggly line that has ups and downs, but is always flowing in one direction – up. It’s supposed to be a constantly progressing thing, and Clairmont is certainly doing that. As he gets older, broadens his horizons and sharpens his skills, it’s going to be scary to see what he can do down the line. He’s already doing great things as it is, so it’s a matter of timing when everyone else can recognize the brilliance that he provides. Whether it’s on Soundcloud or buying from iTunes, just listen to it. Thank me later. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review,
That’s My Word & It STiXX