Meet Toronto rapper Clairmont The Second
© Aysha "Beee" Brown
Music

Toronto rapper Clairmont The Second has his foot on the gas pedal

The rising multifaceted artist opens up about his new project, Do You Drive? The album was written, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered entirely by himself in his basement bedroom.
By Drew Yorke
3 min readPublished on
Clairmont The Second is staunchly independent. His eight-track album Do You Drive? was created entirely by Clairmont in his bedroom studio, a space that the young artist values for its authenticity and utility. “Everything I need is in my bedroom. Video games for when I need a break, YouTube for watching videos and movies for inspiration. I can record everything myself. No running around the corner to the booth.” There’s sincerity rooted in this set-up, which translates into a singular brand of realness that comes across in his music as he references himself in context to the world around him – sitting in the backseat, visiting Tinnel's West Indian Take-Out, eating chicken at Popeyes.
Born the second youngest of four siblings, Clairmont was raised in church, as well as in the Weston Road neighbourhood of Toronto. He was consequently surrounded by gospel and R&B. Eventually, the music of Kirk Franklin, Kurt Carr, Fred Hammond and Donnie McClurkin was complimented with more contemporary sounds when he was introduced to hip-hop at an early age by his older brother and now manager, Cola. This foundation has supported Clairmont as he's hit stages across the country and earned a 2018 Juno Award nomination for Best Rap Recording. And he's just getting started.
A follow-up to Clairmont’s critically-acclaimed 2017 album Lil Mont From The Ave, Do You Drive? showcases a continuation of his unique blend of warm neo-soul and bouncy, forward-thinking rap music. While his childhood influences shine through on laid back R&B tracks like “Grace” and “Lume,” Clairmont’s passion for intricate and clever lyricism is exemplified with offerings like “Brick,” “Hold” and the lead single, “Grip.” Additional highlights include a loop of Cola rapping the line “flip a bird, chuck a deuce” in a Three 6 Mafia cadence towards the end of "Grace" and a snippet of “Hit The Block,” a street anthem from Clairmont’s late cousin Lil Mell, in the album's intro.
Clairmont’s production style is influenced by a long-term affection for West Coast hip-hop. “I really connected with G-funk growing up. It was so different compared to the stuff I was hearing in church.” Crediting iconic producers like DJ Battlecat for having a strong and early influence on his approach to beatmaking, this becomes evident with the incorporation of G-funk synth melodies across the album’s bouncier tracks.
As an independent artist, Clairmont faces a perpetual uphill battle. From coordinating his own releases to directing music videos and answering emails, Clairmont prides himself on having the final say. “I feel like it’s better if my creative ideas don’t have to go through someone else,” he says. After leaving a record deal in 2017 with Toronto label Black Box Music, Clairmont has full-heartedly embraced a path of autonomy, but is the first to admit that it has not been easy. His release for the album’s lead single “Grip” was met with a wrongful Twitter suspension and a weeklong postponement following a distribution error. “My whole release was shaken up and it didn’t go up on streaming services the same day as the video,” he shares. “But it’s a moment I have to own because there’s no label to hide behind. It’s just us.”
Despite the challenges, Clairmont is looking to the future with confidence. He admits that the task of breaking into the global music scene is a daunting one, but necessary for the project to move forward. “Not having a co-sign, not being signed to a major American label – it’s nerve-racking. But I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”