Every so often an artist emerges who demands your attention; 24-year-old Canadian rapper Clairmont The Second (real name Clairmont II Humphrey) falls in that description.
Residing in Toronto, he has built an underground following of fans who appreciate him as one of the most underrated musicians around, a powerhouse of creativity and flare who if you were not mistaken would presume is already on the pedestal of artists like Kendrick Lamar and Tyler, The Creator. Yet despite his immense talent as a rapper, his reputation is only heightened by the knowledge that he also produces all of his music himself, and has a catalogue of songs as a singer which themselves alone would leave you satisfied if he were only a vocalist.
Following in the footsteps of artists Drake and The Weeknd hailing from Toronto, Clairmont finds himself in prestigious company, yet at such a young age it’s no surprise that many view him as next-up. To put it in comparison, Drake’s first project was released when he was 23, The Weeknd at 21. Clairmont The Second already has five albums behind his name at 24, and now a new EP titled ‘Full Circle’. It’s no exaggeration to say that the young rapper, singer, and producer is a genuine prodigy…
How are you feeling so far in 2022?
I’m not sure how I feel yet. Everything is still so uncertain and up in the air that I’m kind of struggling to find my footing. I’ll have a few really good weeks and one bad day that really confuses me. I’m working on that though. I’m definitely tapping into a lot of ideas and realisations. As much as everything is starting not to make sense anymore, that in itself is starting to make more sense to me. I’ve been through a lot of mental, and spiritual battles and changes in the past couple of years but I think I’ve finally tasted a bit of where I want to be in every aspect of my life.
Tell us about where you’re from? Have you been making music from a young age?
I was born & raised in the west side of Toronto. I’ve been making music my whole life. My family is very musical so music was always around. I used to make beats with my Dad and older brother on a Korg Triton which is an old keyboard and he had this old Atari computer with a beat making program called Notator. I completely forgot about that era and I failed to mention it in previous interviews. I also picked up drums at around 5 or so playing in church after church was done.
Where do you find that your inspiration comes from the most?
I don’t think my inspiration comes more from one thing than the other. Everything inspires me whether it’s complicated or simple. A simple thing can give me a ton of inspiration and a complicated more intricate thing might inspire me less. Family inspires me, love inspires me, music inspires me, art as a whole inspires me, when I see people that I admire doing great things it inspires me, and much much more.
How does it feel reflecting on almost a decade as a musician?
It’s crazy that you ask me this because I was just thinking about the fact I’ve been making music as a “professional” musician for almost 10 years. Sometimes I forget how young I am when thinking about it like that because I feel old. That could be due to burnout from all the music I’ve made. I have to remember that I’m not an old-head at 24. Watching artists get younger and younger these days also has my perspective very skewed. It’s amazing though. Ultimately I’m grateful that I can say I have been making music for the world for a decade.
“Been me since the day that I started, don’t compare me to another artist…” How important has it been to stay true to yourself?
Staying true to myself is key to all of this. I can’t make what I make if I’m not me. From something more tangible like my voice sounding the way it does to something you can’t just see at face value like my perspective, it all makes me, me, and makes the music what it is. Even when I dive into a genre or music style that is a bit more familiar to everyone, there’s that Clairmont aspect about it that will be there by default because I just create what I love. I don’t create what other people love. That’s not my priority, otherwise I’d hate making music. Music is personal and I love sharing what I’ve done with the world but I cannot let the world influence my decisions or I’d be completely lost.
What are your personal views on spirituality and do you view music as spiritual?
I grew up Christian and a good chunk of those beliefs stick with me till this day. As I’ve gotten older I’ve had a lot more questions about what I was taught and what made sense to me. There was a big transition where I realized a lot of things are just memorized and passed down while at the same time lacking the understanding of what is being said and taught. I absolutely believe music is spiritual regardless of what an artist’s intention is or not. Sound itself can cause physical or emotional pain. Sound can change your mood.
When I listen to music there are things I feel that make me say; whether this was the artist’s goal with this song/album or not I feel something inside that is beyond this. I believe what you put in the music can drastically change the outcome of many things. I think people can subconsciously feel when something has love in it or if something is off. Sometimes as an artist something speaks or moves through you and you can’t even remember what you did or how you did it. I’m so many projects in and constantly confused at how I did it again. How did I make another album? Where did I find the strength? To me it’s God and as I’ve strengthened that relationship and tried to be more in tune spiritually I’ve also started letting go more and just doing what naturally comes to me. With that being said my next work is me in my rawest form. The most naked I’ve ever been. Also I think some of my most spiritual work.
Do you work with a producer\s or do you produce your own music?
I produce all of my own music. I’ve featured on things and have produced for others but for my own music, since I can already produce pretty well and I work from home, it’s just way easier. Not only is it easier but it makes for a cohesive body of work rather than me just collecting beats from people. And that could also get expensive so it works out perfectly for me.
You’ve consistently delivered jaw-dropping visuals and a sick aesthetic throughout your releases – how important is it to balance visual art with music and how much are you inspired by art in your own life?
Thank you so much! To even add to an earlier question asked when you asked about what I’m starting to realize; I don’t think it’s as important to balance the visuals with the music as much as it’s important to build the world around the music. It’s also important to choose something that fits. If that world requires music videos and very strong images with that, then that’s what it calls for. Sometimes a world requires just the music and all the single artwork is just the title of the track on a black backdrop. I’m digressing from the visuals with this next sentence but I think you’ll understand what I’m saying. When it comes down to how a song is mixed I’ve thrown out the idea (for the most part) that this is a bad mix or a good mix. I look at it more now as the RIGHT mix. Sometimes a song will call for a dirtier mix because that’s the intention. Of course there are things in the world that are just not good so this doesn’t apply to everything of course but that’s where my mind is at when choosing visuals. However for me I think it’s important for me to have a visual element just as strong because this is just what I enjoy to do. I love making films, and I love building that world around that song or that album.
Do you have a particular method/routine when it comes to writing lyrics and recording in the studio?
No routine for me. I think if there is something that is common with how I make music it’s that a lot of the time I’ll randomly think of lines so I have this note in my phone with a ton of just one liners. So I’d make a beat and go through that when I feel like I’m stuck or if I have something in there I think I can start a verse with. I haven’t done this in a while but back in the day there would be beats I really liked so I’d just write to that and make a beat for it later. It switches all the time.
What would be a perfect day for Clairmont The Second? What makes you the happiest?
The perfect day would start mentally. A full day without thinking about anything but just enjoying that day. I don’t want to think about what I have coming up, what bills I have to pay, etc. There definitely has to be some video games in the mix. Quietness. No fear. No paranoia. A nice view. Fresh air. Play some sports. Warm weather. Making a good ass song with some great harmonies. My perfect day consists of all of that. I have a lot of different perfect day formulas. All those things make me the happiest. That and my girlfriend.
Follow Clairmont The Second on Instagram.
Words: Brandon Pestano // @brandonpestano
Photography: Aysha Beee // IG: @Aysha.Beee