Clever’s latest album Crazy is a collection of artfully produced hip hop songs that showcase the musician’s uniquely thoughtful style. Each song is a standalone masterpiece that features incredible lyrics and moving, dynamic orchestration. We had the pleasure of meeting Clever and asking him a bit about his inspiration, but first, a bit about his album.
Each song on Crazy captures a different side of Clever’s rich, encompassing style. “Life’s a Mess II” featuring Juice WRLD and Post Malone is an intriguing, echoing track that draws you in with subtly complex instrumentation that boasts swirling harmonies over an angelic melody. “Call Me Nobody”is an ominous, thoughtful tune featuring Lil Wayne and Isaiah Lyric that slowly builds in a steady, moving way. “Rolls Royce Umbrella” features Chris Brown and offers similar dark instrumentation to “Call Me Nobody” but with added emotive, soulful vocals that are delivered in a poetic yell that is striking and effective. “Skittles” features Lil Baby and a haunting, distorted instrumental melody reminiscent of a horror film that creates an interesting juxtaposition with Clever’s powerful, emotional voice. “Everything Beautiful” is a departure from the darkness with glowing production and a light, syncopated lyrical delivery as Clever declares “as long as you’re here by my bedside, I can still see the reason I’m here.”
We were able to ask the Gadsen, Alabama native about the inspiration for his incredibly poignant and poetic lyrics and singing style to which he replied, “I was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe [and] by Shakespeare… Vocally, I was inspired by Rod Stewart”. Check out the rest of what Clever had to say below and be sure to check out Crazy wherever you listen to music.
Written by Katrina Charles
Press Q&A with Clever
Q (Urban Latino): Congratulations on this incredible album. It’s been super highly anticipated as we all know with these amazing features that you have from Lil Wayne, Juice WRLD, Post Malone. You even dedicated the album to Juice. I was interested in knowing if you feel this and all the features have influenced the process of creating the album?
CLEVER: Absolutely. To have Post Malone and Juice WRLD on the same record is definitely very fitting because I’m signed to both of them, I was signed to Juice and Grade A in 2018, right around the time Juice was kinda making some noise and I got to watch him grow as an artist and was kinda playin’ my part. I felt like Lil Wayne, actually. Y’know watchin’ Juvenile do his thing for a while and him sittin’ back kinda playin’ his role before he got his chance. And to have Lil Wayne on the record is definitely dope. I put my 6 year old son on the song with him. He was sitting next to me and just added some la la la’s to the end of the record and I added it. He’s already getting publishing deal offers and so forth. So I think that’s dope. To have Chris Brown is huge. To have Lil Baby and the topic we were talking about in our song. The album itself paying tribute to Juice, y’know, I really wouldn’t be on this call even without him. Not that I wouldn’t have kept pushing forward; but, I didn’t have to be here without Juice. He really opened a lot of doors. So I would definitely say that the features on this album inspired the creation of it.
Q (Urban Latino): Love that your son was on it, how did he like that experience?
CLEVER: He’s like a studio rat. He’s kind of been raised in the studio and on tour buses and so forth. He’s kind of used to it. He plays music and stuff like that. He records himself already at 6. So I’ve really pushed him, I think, in that direction. But, he took it upon himself; I didn’t ask him to go on the record and do it. He was just sitting next to me and he likes to listen and just threw it out there. So once he did it, I was like “Let me hear it again,” and the engineer played it back and I was like “Oh, this is cool. Let’s keep it.”
Urban Latino: Oh wow I love that. He took over!
CLEVER: Yeah, he just forced himself on the record but I love it. To have him on with Lil Wayne makes me Dad of the year.
Q (Fan): What is your mission statement? What are you trying to communicate to people and what are you going for in terms of legacy?
CLEVER: I think when it’s all said and done, y’know, it’s about how you feel about the music you put out. I think that instead of settling for what it is that people think you should be doing music wise, concept wise, style wise, that as long as you’re happy with the body of work that you’ve put forward, that’s the most important thing. If you’re growing year to year, that’s the most important thing. Just being able to look back 10 years from now and say that you put out the best music that you could, that’s really the most important thing I think. I want people to look at me like someone that never really changed, never settled, never compromised my style and my artistic side, and changed some lives. Y’know, really poured my heart and emotions out there in a way that only I could say it and do it in a way that only I could do it, y’know, and have this distinct sound, this distinct vocal, with lyrics that really pierce you and could change your life. Music to me is a very strong thing. It started off for me as an escape, as a means of an escape. Once I put it on a piece of paper, it was like it was no longer on my chest. I could put it there and then get rid of it. I think that’s what my job is. It’s to kinda manufacture his product that people can sit with and it frees themselves from concern for a while.
Q (Fan): Would you ever take back being vulnerable and letting people into your world?
CLEVER: No. There was a time when I was more private. I was going for mystique and not really putting myself out there because I was afraid of having to answer questions and stuff like that but people really want to know. People want to relate to you and they want to feel what you feel. When it’s all said and done, your fanbase is gonna be somebody that is just like you in a lot of ways. That can relate to your music. The people who really truly care and support you are the people that feel the same way that you do. The other people that don’t show you love and support really don’t matter. For those that do, you really want to reach as many people as you possibly can. And to open yourself up and be vulnerable is really the only way to reach some of those people. A music artist, in my opinion, is someone that should be a sanctuary for those kinds of people. Y’know, a hospital for the wounded that can relate to their same issues. And I think it’s our job as music artists to crawl under the rubble and free people from the debris that we had to experience as human beings as well and kind of talk about it in a way that would be almost therapeutic. Of course, it would be a lot easier I think to hide and to not put as much stuff onto people’s radar and to not be an open book; but, at the end of the day, you’re really trying to find those people that are following you and you can’t really create that cult following without opening your heart and putting it out there on the line.
Q (Rising Artists Blog): What influences outside of hip hop have helped form your style? For example, you wrote poetry as a kid. Was there a particular poet who influenced you?
CLEVER: Absolutely. I was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, by Shakespeare. Y’know, I was really inspired by Jay-Z, which is inside of hip hop realm; but, when I think about Jay-Z, I think of, like, quotables. Y’know, lines like, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” Stuff that you can read and go “wow that’s a hell of a line that really sticks.” You look at somebody like Shakespeare or Edgar Allen Poe that hundreds of years later some of their words still hit hard today. That was the ultimate goal, I think, all together. And music was a way to do that a little bit easier than being a poet. Y’know, I don’t know that people are sitting around reading poetry nowadays as much as they’re listening to tunes. But I always say that if Robert Plant and Jay-Z had a baby and then left that baby in a dumpster and it took him a long time to get where they were going that would be me. So I was definitely inspired by Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin, y’know, vocally I was inspired by Rod Stewart. And just being able to hear somebody on the radio. If you hear Prince on the radio, you know that’s Prince regardless if you’ve ever heard that record before. If you heard a song that maybe wasn’t his big top 10 singles, but a random record, you would still know it was him. And I think different artists that really show a different side that doesn’t sound like anything that you’ve heard before, I would say were all a huge inspiration to me.
Q (Rising Artists Blog): Love that answer. Thank you. And then for my second question, in an interview with HotNewHipHop, you mentioned getting hit up by a lot of big artists from 21 Savage to Justin Bieber. And I’m sure with the new album out now, you’re getting hit up by even more huge artists. So my question is: how are you adapting to all this attention and fame?
CLEVER: Well y’know, from my time, I was writing songs for some big artists years ago. I wrote for Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, and Mack 10 and some OG cats back when. I was writing for David Foster, who is a 17x Grammy award winner or something like that, who wrote some of the big Whitney Houston records and stuff like that. So, I mean, I’ve been in the game for a while. I’ve been kind of making my rounds with some bigwigs but it’s still a very humbling experience. It’s still very exciting to see another big celebrity come in and give you some kind of praise. I think with 21 Savage, I think it was more of a quality control. Wanting to sign me to a deal and them each reaching out to say, “Hey. We want you over here” kind of thing. And it being more influential to try to convince me to go that route to have their whole artist lineup reach out. But I’ve definitely been blessed when it comes to cosigns and I cannot complain.
The second album, oddly enough, it’s hard to say but I think it’s going to have even bigger features than the first one, which is saying a lot because we definitely had our hands full with trying clear all these big records. Y’know it’s not easy to clear a Juice WRLD record nowadays, y’know, with Interscope handling all that kind of stuff now. And then, to clear one with him and Post Malone is just a nightmare from a lawyer standpoint. And then when you throw Lil Baby and Lil Wayne and Chris Brown into the mix as well, it was months of kind of pushing the record off just going back and forth with the negotiation process.
So, I think it’s cool to be right next to these giants, y’know what I mean, on a track; it opens a lot of doors. But, at the same time, I think it’s time for me veer away from some features and do some solo records cause a lot of my big solo records that the record label believes in are the ones I pitch to some of these big artists that come along. And then, all of a sudden, it’s a feature and this song might’ve been great without a feature on it. It’s just kind of how the cookie crumbled. I’m definitely blessed to have ‘em and I can’t complain. So we’re gonna keep on truckin’ for now and, slowly but surely, lean towards doing more solo records than features soon enough.
STREAM “LIFE’S A MESS II”:
STREAM “CALL ME NOBODY (FEAT. LIL WAYNE & ISAIAH LYRIC)”:
STREAM “ROLLS ROYCE UMBRELLA (WITH CHRIS BROWN)”:
STREAM “SKITTLES (FEAT. LIL BABY)”:
STREAM “EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL”