Describe the typical Clayt fan.
I know this is gonna sound a lil’ weird but the “typical” Clayt fan is a diverse individual. Someone who is entertained by the mainstream but still very in tune or interested in the underground. Somebody who’s open minded and cultured, whether that’s street culture or “woke” culture, or both. I see myself as that type of person and as an artist, somebody who’s not just one dimensional and can appreciate multiple types of music and art.
How was your experience dealing with Adult Swim? How did that opportunity come about?
My Adult Swim experience was super dope! I’ve always been a fan of Adult Swim, from the content to just the vibe and presentation they broadcast. Walking into the studio it was pretty much what I thought it would be, a bunch of dope ass posters and random stuff related to the shows, a bunch of hipster-ish weird looking employees lol. I got to perform in one of the main studios, it pretty much looked like the set of a Tv show, for one of the shows they live stream on their website, “Time and Temperature”.
The opportunity came about just as most do through mutual connections. I was doing a photoshoot with my homegirl Bre (@Bee_alyssatrofort) and her cousin who’s an employee happened to be at her studio. She was playing my music for him and he thought it was dope. The rest is history.
What do you think the old school can learn from the new school and vice versa?
Well I’m actually learning this myself. Being born in 91 I really have a lot of different influences. I discovered illmatic when I was like 11, and because of that Nas is my favorite rapper of all-time! Around that same time though, Lil Wayne starts to be the hottest rapper out, so I’m heavily influenced by him and the rise of the south. Fast forward to more recently, I’m still in my 20’s and still on the scene, so I can appreciate the trap and turn up vibe that’s pretty much dominating the mainstream. I used to be one of those people that was strictly listening to lyrical rap, but after a while I just realized everything isn’t for everybody or every situation. Of course being so young, it’s easier for me to realize that and see it as I move through different crowds.
For old heads I’m sure it’s not that easy. I can’t fault them though, I know they have an emotional tie to the music they heard growing up, but they just have to understand that back then was their time, and hip-hop and music in general is going to keep evolving. If you don’t like it, don’t pay attention to it. Main problem is people in general learn to pay attention to their negative thoughts vs. the positive, so of course they’re going to express those negative opinions more.
On the same token with the negativity, us youngsters and newer artists have to respect that these people did pave the way. We don’t have to all have Nas as our favorite rapper but that doesn’t mean we gotta Lonzo Ball the situation lol. We don’t have to put something down just to big up what we like you know? I think those are the main things, just being understanding of each other.
Describe Newport News, VA to someone who’s never been there
Man. Newport News is an interesting place to say the least. I’m from downtown and usually when you think of downtown in a city, it’s the nice area, full of shopping and entertaining. Newport News is not that at all. Where I’m from downtown is considered the hood side of town, and uptown is typically considered the “good” part of town, even though there’s some rough areas up there too. It’s not the smallest city, but it’s definitely not a metropolis. It’s Virginia, so there’s definitely still plenty of seeds of classism and racism sprinkled in there, along with the military culture. The shipyard is really the city’s claim to fame, and as a result most people end up working there, going into the military, or they play a sport and/or go to school to escape. There’s not really much of an art culture and that’s why you’ll see many of the local artists complaining about a “lack of support”. I used to be one of those people when I lived there, then I realized it’s not the people, it’s the culture. Growing up we weren’t really exposed to local events/festivals that much and the city itself isn’t exactly an attraction or an economical center of anything. It’s just like Pusha said, “where ain’t shit to do but cook”. People don’t see much there so you either see yourself as whatever the mainstream is telling you to be, or you have a crazy imagination like Missy, Timbo, Pharrell. The thing is, it’s really a beautiful place, surrounded by views of the water, but I really feel like it’s just seeds of the past that stop it from growing and flourish more. That’s one of my goals, to eventually give back and establish more of an open minded culture.
What’s your favorite verse in hiphop history and why?
If I only have to pick one I have to say AZ’s verse on “Life’s a Bitch”, off illmatic. Only because that’s like probably my favorite hip-hop song of all time and it’s the first verse up there. I remember being a kid just being so focused on memorizing every word so I could say it back just to have that rush of excitement like, I did that shit! It was one of the first verses I ever did that with, and one of those that inspired me to recreate that feeling with my own lyrics. If I have to pick a 2nd one I’d go with Nas’ first verse on Memory Lane. “I rap for listeners, blunt heads, fly ladies and prisoners…”. I don’t know why but that intro was so fly to me. To this day I pretty much have that whole album memorized ha.