Clutch

Producer/Emcee/Spoken word artist.

Well Schooled ft. MC Forty & Orijin

Wanted to show that some young emcees know their history so I asked Forty & Orijin to help me out. They made this track from Beat Tape ‘12 really come alive. Their verses are on some Smaug breath. 

There I Go ft. MC Forty & The Runaway

Got to make a song with two of my best friends this past year.
Forty leads the track speaking on Cincinnati, I follow him describing my time in a 10th floor apartment in Hamilton, and Run plays clean up hitter and breaks down his life in Milton. 

My Favourite 15 Songs of 2013

Here are my favourite songs of 2013. Many inspiring for my production style. Mostly focusing on the overall sound, only a few on lyrical content. Click the song title to listen to it.


15. Childish Gambino - Telegraph Ave. (Oakland)
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Summary: Gambino is like “I heard you like songs, so I put a song in a song so you can listen to a song while listening to a song.”

Gambino is as pretentious as hip hop artists come. Still, I enjoyed reading the movie script that went with his album Because the Internet, and this song captured a cool moment. He’s getting in the car to go visit his ex-girlfriend when he starts singing along with a song on the radio (as far as I can tell Lloyd doesn’t have a song called Oakland, so it was made up for this song, a song within a song, style points!). It’s mostly singing with one rap verse. Its catchy and mellow. 

14. RJD2 - Got There Sugar?
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Summary: The album says 2013, but this song stole its soul from the 70s, without sampling. 

RJD2 is an inspiring artist to me as a producer. He can’t be categorized. Although he came up being known as a Hip Hop producer he can craft flawless funk jams, R&B ballads, and electronic dance songs. Got There Sugar? starts out sounding like some progressive jazz rock, with the synth, sax, piano and light rolling ride, but it turns into a big chune filled with strings, guitar, horns, and group vocals, that makes me want to dance in the afternoon. Also… dat breakdown at 3:17? KAMON!

13. Arcade Fire - Porno
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Summary: If you hear this and don’t start nodding I’ll give you $5. 

This tune right here has an infectious bounce to it. I don’t really know what its about but it builds, brings in strings. I liked having conversations about this album this year with people. I used to be in a vinyl club (as every good hipster should) and we only met once this year. This was the album we listened to and discussed. Also I want to sample this song. shhhh

12. The Roots & Elvis Costello - CINCO Minutos Con Vos [Karrim Riggins Remix]image

Summary: The Roots aren’t ONLY the house band on Jimmy Fallon. 

Black Thought weaves together a gangster story of murder with religious imagery over Karriem Riggins re-imagining of The Roots & Elvis Costello’s tune. The bass line, the drums and Black Thought’s terrific wordplay make this tune stand out.

11. A$AP Rocky - Phoenix
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Summary: Don’t judge it on the first listen, unless you like it, then do.


This ones gonna take some explaining. First off, I really like the drumless verses that build from synth & bass to the simple piano string combo with the 808 kick. The producer here is Danger Mouse [Gorrillaz, Gnarls Barkley]. A$AP takes on the classic Hip Hop mentality of having a god-complex, adds a level of poetic allegory being a phoenix rising, and makes it horribly haunting and ends it with the questions: Where do we lie? Tell me where do we stand? Where do we go? Its all part of the plan. Before that he has an earnest prayer: “If I ever should fall, Lord pick me up”. Mostly I just like the beat tho and how he matches it with his voice.

10. K-os - NYCE 2 Know Ya
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Summary: Nice to know ya! *something something something* NICE TO KNOW YA!

Black On Blonde was a let down to me but this song is a JAM. Huge sound. All singing until the last verse… “OH, never change, always be the same” Hmm. Beatbox ending? Of course! Drop out before the last chorus? You bet! Cookie cutter pop tune? Yes! Makes me dance and smile? No doubt.

9. Daft Punk - Touch ft. Paul Williams
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Summary: Let this song takes me on a journey, and I want to go to there.

The groove lives. The trumpet and swinging piano backed by a string section and drums which descend into the vocoded anthem lyrics by the french robot duo. Hold on. If love is the answer, your home. Cue choir, cue my affections. Cue the memories of listening to this on vinyl.

8. Majid Jordan - Hold Tight

imageSummary: Side chaining and some mumbly synth pop, s’good idnit? Does the job.

Really liking this tune (obviously, its on my best of list!). These guys are the mind behind one of the biggest songs of the year (Drake’s Hold On We’re Going Home). They made a solid EP called After Hours. I have danced in the kitchen and living room to this, as well as nodded on the bus to it. 

7. Big Sean - Control ft. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica
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Summary: Kendrick was Hungry! The world stopped when they heard his hunger. Then we had conversations about it.

In Intro to Mass Communication in college we were taught the true power of a song is its connotation. This song made waves. No denying that. I really enjoyed the conversations surrounding it. Does it mean anything? Does it even matter that he called them out? Will anything change? How could he do this on a feature that didn’t even get put on an album? Who knows, but its fun to talk about. I talked with Hamilton’s downtown youth in the back of bus on they way to a camping trip about it at length. 

6. Kanye West - New Slaves
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Summary: This beat is just a synth line, the power is still on display.

Rumours of a new Kanye album sprouted up with videos being shown on the side of buildings. Just his head. Like some 1984 type stuff, like some double-speak, he’s powerful, yet he’s a slave? That second verse tho? Whoa. And what is that ending? He’s redefining what music can be. This song reminds me it is an exciting time to be alive. I walked around Hamilton when Yeezus dropped, listened to it twice in a row.

5. Shad - Progress (Pt. 1: American Pie, Pt. 2: The Future Is Here)
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Summary: Good grief. 

My mouth hung open the first time I listened to this song. I felt like I’d been punched. I ha the privilege of explaining many of the references to my friends: “He’s talking about Snoop Dogg. He’s talking about Lauryn Hill. He’s talking about Lil Wayne. He’s talking about Tupac & Biggie.” Then he takes it into a whole nother world and it becomes a rock song where he sings about America & Jesus. And it all connects. And its all beautiful. Shad is a true poet, this song shows him in his element.

4. Drake - Hold On, We’re Going Home

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Summary: If this song doesn’t make you sing along, check your pulse.

All the elements in this song are perfect. I could listen to this song on heavy repeat. I could, so I do. Most times I want music to be the soundtrack to my life, which means this is the theme to my bus ride after school. This is just a good song. I hope it’s timeless cause I want it to be played at my funeral, may this life be my “good girl”. 

3. Kanye West - Black Skinhead
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Summary: RAAAHHH!!

I used to be in a band called Captain Bear. We described ourselves as “hardcore hip hop”. If I was a rich black man in the United States of America and I was in Captain Bear, this is what I would want it to sound like. Also I know every lyric to this song, I sing it in the shower. The angst and raw emotion of this song have made it the most played in my iTunes. Most played of all time. Not just this year. Ever.

2. Shad & Scratch Bastid - Outta My Head
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Summary: This is what I need.

Here are reasons:

  • The eagle call in the song.
  • It builds from percussion-less to a break beat laced sparse sample hook.
  • It sparked a really important conversation between Jon & I
  • It gives real hope to me. 
  • It ends with scratching and, again, I’m a sucker for strings and that flute.

1. Son Lux - Lost It To Trying

imageSummary: Saxophones and flutes and choirs and percussion and drums and why can’t I get this song loud enough!?

This isn’t just my favourite song of the year. Its the best song. This is the best song to be released this year. I am convinced of this. 

Although blurry and unfocused, the photo on the right better depicts the session with @justin_eyes #hughsonst #posthiphop

Although blurry and unfocused, the photo on the right better depicts the session with @justin_eyes #hughsonst #posthiphop

Eatin spinach and working on #HughsonSt aka #HopesHotel #PostHipHop

Eatin spinach and working on #HughsonSt aka #HopesHotel #PostHipHop

The back cover to Extended Play.The project will be out this month! 
Graphic design by Jadyn Klassen 

The back cover to Extended Play.
The project will be out this month! 

Graphic design by Jadyn Klassen 

A few years ago I worked at an AM Radio station in Altona, MB. There was a lot of down time while I only had to make sure nothing went wrong. I would often have my notebook out, writing between sportscasts & weather updates. However, listening to other music would distract me from my job too much, so I had to write to the quite hum of radio programs. 
   One day I was looking through some of my writings and I was dissatisfied with a lot of what filled the pages. I thought of songs that last through time. Songs where an artists relays an important message. I began to think of if I never achieved that before my life was over. If my music and my songs were mostly just a bunch of mediocre or below average rap verses. 
   So I set off on an attempt to write my magnum opus. A defining piece of work that would convey my thoughts, convictions, beliefs and discoveries up until that point in my life. I wrote this piece as though, if it were to be the last thing I ever wrote, I wanted to be able to be at peace with that.

   On the video side of things, a friend from church directed, shot, and produced the whole thing. He is an incredibly talented person. Check out his work here:
 http://www.davidrossfilm.com/

Last Verse is the final song on my upcoming project “Extended Play”. I hope it blesses you!
Peace

Clutch 

Clutch

—Honest

Still waiting on the artwork. Hopefully this project will still see a release of Jan 2013. Although I am playing with the idea of a new title, which might set it back. We’ll see.

When I wrote Honest I was in an interesting place in my life. It was March of 2012. I had moved to Hamilton in Sept of 2012, leaving friends and family back in Manitoba only to be volunteering at a few great places. I had a difficult time finding work and settling in. Honest documents, with full disclosure, the year or so of my life up until the point of writing. It started with the self-loathing of my own music and traveled into some of the small rise & fall that was Captain Bear (which could now be used as a name for my ego, ha) then goes into some of my desires to be alone and back into my thoughts on my music & employment situation. It ends on a note of reminder of the goodness of God and then my desire to be older, wiser, more mature.

My friend Blaine (bassist in Captain Bear) told me he’s planning on getting the last line of this song tattooed on himself. It was one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever had of my writing. I’m blown away that it effected him to such a degree.

The snippet here digs into my vision of what I’m wanting to accomplish with my music: to speak honestly. I second guess my talents, abilities and even wonder if I really should be making music, especially Hip Hop, a culture that I don’t fit well into. Yet when its all said and done, I’m guided by my faith in Christ which compels me to speak honestly to whoever will listen, and even more so at times, I do this for self sanity. To tell our stories to each other is a necessary  practice. This is how I’ve learned from others. I pray that some can learn from me. 2013 may see an Honest pt. 2. Who knows.

Be well,

Clutch

Clutch

—All In

The masters for Extended Play are in my hands (thanks SD!) I’m waiting on the artwork now from my brother Jadyn which he will be working on over his Christmas break from work. I’m fairly excited and nervous about releasing this project. Should be an adventure to see what happens. I’m going to wait until Jan 2013 to bring it out, I’m hoping to do a house show as a release party.

In anticipation for the release I’m gonna go through each song a little bit. Even just for my own clarity, documenting the journey.

All In started in my bedroom back in Manitoba. I found the sample off of one of my dad’s records and instantly started writing to it, before even finishing the instrumental. The whole vibe was saying All In. There have been 3 or 4 notebooks since the beginnings of those lyrics. The song came a long way both in what was written and produced. 

My favorite line in this one is “All in like Joseph/ hopeless on both ends/ but hope is in more than my own knowing”
In the book of Genisis there is a story of a young man with 11 brothers who is favored by his dad. His brothers get sick of him so they throw him in a pit. One of them convinces the other brothers that him being dead doesn’t do them much good, why not sell him to slave traders and make some money off of him? So they throw him a rope. I view my life like Joseph at that moment sometimes. I have 2 options, neither of which I’m always convinced are good for me. He had the option of staying in the pit to die or climbing out to be sold into slavery. Yet God used this awful situation to do great things through Joseph. Which is why I say hope is in my own knowing. I chose to follow where God leads in every circumstance, even when its seems harmful to me. 

The singing was hard for me to get to sound right. I tried it myself and couldn’t nail it. Then I had my roommate & close friend Thomas try it and it was good, but not quite what it needed either. Jon (The Runaway) came through and blessed it with a couple of lyric flips and some ill harmonies and extras which really took it to the next level. 

Still feel like I could do another 10 versions of this song to reach its full potential, but at a certain point you gotta let the bird out of the cage and see where it flies. 

Extended Play is on its way. Jan 2013.

Peace,

Clutch 

Clutch

—Ms Understood

Another spoken word piece I composed that never found a home. A good context for this one is “I Used to Love H.E.R.” by Common. 

The beat on this one is MAD old. Seen a lot of revisions. The first version of it I made when I lived in Kitchener. Its a sample of mewithoutYou I believe.

The play on words here is that I believe Hip Hop is Misunderstood. Hip Hop has done a lot of good, it gave an alternative lifestyle to people in some desperate situations. Its also done bad, but I think that gets focused on all over the place (Bill O’Reily anyone?). Hip Hop has done both good and bad because Hip Hop is the people. Like Mos Def said “So the next time you ask yourself where Hip Hop is goin’ ask yourself ‘where am I goin?’ ‘how am I doin’”

And so even if Hip Hop has a scattered blemished past, we can remember the words of Rakim “It’s not where you’re from, its where you’re at”

The other side of the play on words is that how am I to really think I understand Hip Hop? I am practically the anti-thesis of what Hip Hop is. All of what I say about it could be written off as misunderstandings.

 
EP Progress report: The songs have been sent to SD and to Jadyn, SD will be mastering the tracks soon, Jadyn will hopefully be designing the album artwork. Still looking at a 2012 release date.
Also talking to some people about music videos, adding some visual elements to the songs.
God is good all the time.
Peace 

Clutch

—Towards the Wilderness

Today I don’t feel like saying anything about this one.

Its just a spoken word piece with some chill background. Enjoy.

Progress report on the EP: I have an initial mix. I’ll be bouncing it off some good people, making edits and then sending it off for mastering. Still hoping for a release this year.

"The loathing of darkness is the love of the luminous.
The question at heart is not ‘why?’ but ‘who is this
 That makes west crawl from east,
and wolves starve for sheep
and a sky full of stars that we’ll never see?’” 

Clutch/Captain Bear

—Secure

There is so much to be said about this song.

This song was created by Captain Bear. We played it live a number of times, but never recorded it. When we were first making it in Dan’s basement we wanted to be sure we’d remember everything so I recorded us playing it on Garage Band on my laptop. From that recording I sampled Larry Abrams guitar part and created the instrumental. That’s Blaine Jack & Larry discussing the song at the beginning. A slight bit of Dan Ginters drums made it in as well, but its mostly a drum sample and programmed drums.

The content of verse one is about my ancestors, the Mennonites. One of our strongest beliefs is in peace and non-violence. The strength they showed in Russia while being persecuted has always fascinated me. Willing to die, unwilling to kill. Some would look at this as weak and foolish but I wanted to challenge Captain Bear’s audience (who was probably 85% Mennonite) to re-discover their roots and be confident in them. It really is an encouragement to people to be strong in their convictions. 

I may add more to this later, right now I must be on my way.

Be on the look out for my upcoming 6 song EP, or don’t, you know it’s really your choice. Just continue to enjoy music.

peace,

Brett Klassen

Clutch

—Notebooking Intro

One of the functions of this blog is to serve as a “behind the scenes” into my creations. I find it fun to dive into my creations in this way, so I view it more for myself than anything else. 

Over a year ago now I had the idea of a project titled Notebooking. It was 12 or so songs of things that I’d had in my notebook for a while that I just wanted to get out. I have a lot of trouble putting out anything with my voice on it. I edited, re-edited and eventually became tired of most of the songs and moved on to some other projects. 

Recently (as in this morning) I decided I’d take some of my newest songs and compile an EP. It will be 6 songs and hopefully be released in 2012. There is some recording to do but mostly I just need mixing and mastering done so I think this is within the realm of possibility.

As a lead up to this new EP I’m going to be posting songs that didn’t make it. Some of these may resurface in other forms (remixes?) someday, but for now, they are dead songs to me; they sit in folders on my computer and will probably never see the light of day through any real release. 

Notebooking Intro is a simple tune. Youtube rappers weave their way through-out, talking about their notebooks. The content focuses on the relationship I have with the Creator. Its more introspective than I really like to be, which may be why it never really excited me as a song. The beat is by Reflex The Architect from the Scribbling Idiots.
"I’m not going to heaven, neither are you/
Its on its way to us, and I pray it comes soon”