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Album reviews
Artist:
Clairmont the Second
Album:
Do You Drive?
Release year:
2019
Label:
14 March 2019 / by Demar J. Grant (author)

Movements: Neo-soul, G-funk, Lo-Fi, Vaporwave

Lane: Wiz Khalifa, BROCKHAMPTON, Late Childish Gambino

Pressing play turns on Clairmont's CRT TV. He flips through the channels, slides in a VHS tape and is met with a whir. The hum of the CRT and a droning synth marks the beginning of the journey. 'Hold' gives you the first taste Do You Drive?.

Almost every song begins or ends like this. Do You Drive? has a firm grip on the past and future at the same time. While that whirring VCR bears a mark of Clairmont the Second's past, vaporwave marks a specific type of genre-bending that's only possible today. 'Hold'’s Bouncing 90's g-funk with dulcet synth grooves give room to one of Clairmont's stickiest hooks and funnest flows.

Hold me and my homies ‘til we holy/

Whole team staying hungry ‘til we OG’s/

Trust me never comfy or it’s over/

Ayy/

Hold me and my homies ‘til we holy/

Whole team staying hungry ‘til we OG’s/

Trust me never comfy or it’s over/

Due to his Rakimian internal rhymes and couplet bars Clairmont's lyrics flip over each other effortlessly. He's sure that every bar spit is fun to say regardless of the subject matter even though its usually serious, sad or bleak. A fun track like 'Grip' bangs like a cut off SATURATION II but also gives a taste of Clairmont's interactions with the police as a kid "Thirteen on finch, homie getting frisked, like we weren’t kids/ Wifey don’t eat pork, foes with the pigs/ 12 jumped my kin/".

See, Clairmont is a true west-ender.  Hailing from Weston, he makes it very clear life in Weston isn't easy and he didn't grow up with much of anything. Lyrics of loss, disdain for police and seemingly everlasting financial insecurity pervade Do You Drive?. On tracks like 'Brick' Clairmont outlines how scant he was really living "Eleventh grade I asked for change to get a patty for lunch/ I barely ate like every day, for me a toonie’s enough/" but he does so with a chopped and screwed voice over trippy neo-soul with uplifting synths. Although his story is one of the streets his gritty lyrics are embedded in glossy intricate production.

And it's all from his fingertips, Clairmont the Second makes music out of his bedroom. Although most would associate bedroom production with sparsity, Clairmont's complete control combines elements that typically wouldn't meet. That means dense, lush tracks when it works out (which it usually does) but a disorganized heap when it doesn't.

'Grace' moves from a woozy synth with spoken rap to lounge jazz via vaporwave interlude (which works) and then again into a separate lo-fi chant of "flip a bird chuck a deuce/" by Cola, Clairmont the Second's manager, in the span of merely three minutes. The ideas feel rushed, fragmented and incomplete. Each portion sounds like a miniature song onto themselves versus the entirety of one.

The same goes for 'Lume', after Clairmont's pleading with a lover to stay together the track breaks for 30 seconds at the end. By changing the channel using the VCR's lo-fi aesthetic Clairmont starts dropping fun brag raps over a g-funk beat. Where is the rest of that second track? It's awesome but too short...

When Clairmont the Second's genre blending hits, it slaps, but there are a few misses. Do You Drive? only runs for 24 minutes over 8 tracks but it's aesthetic leaves you adrift in time. When 'Word' ends, 'Hold' begins anew pulling you deeper into Clairmont the Second's woozy, chopped and screwed lo-fi dream world of g-funk and jazz.

Rating: 7.25/10

Heat: Hold, Grip, Brick, Grain

Ice: Po'

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The author

Demar J. Grant

aka Deminem, aka Lil Demi Vert, aka Demar like DeRozan, aka Demar J. Grant is a music journalist and critic at CJRU. Follow him @DemarJGrant

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