Widely considered one of the more talented MCs that you may not know, Albany native Clear Mind has been putting together a resume that he is confident you will respect when the time comes. Recently highlighted by the Times Union, Clear Mind is riding the acclaim from his Biggie Smalls "Rap Phenomenon" remake as well as stellar performances throughout the Cat Skills leading the way for top acts within the Capital District. Looking to branch out, he has set his sights on major cities and a bigger fan base to bring into his world of music. I sat down with him recently to pick his brain about branding, Hip Hop in Albany and the confidence to jump on a legendary instrumental. Check it out below:
Jason Bourne: How would you best describe Albany Hip Hop, the sound and scene currently?
Clear Mind: I feel like Albany Hip Hop varies in style. There are a lot of artists who focus on creating lyrical, memorable music; then there are others who focus on the common sound in Hip Hop today. To each their own, but I can say that the sound is very diverse, and the Hip Hop scene here is beginning to rise.
Jason Bourne: Where do you consider yourself placed amongst the talent there?
Clear Mind: I personally feel like I'm one of the more versatile. I am unique in comparison to majority of the artists that are here. Lyrically and creatively I feel like there are very few that can match me. I know it sounds cliché but the proof is in the music honestly.
Jason Bourne: Often times, you hear of artists having to overcome their fate of being in a small market and needing to captivate fans in other areas to gain traction; do you consider yourself at that exact point as we speak?
Clear Mind: That is surely a fate I'm beginning to overcome as a local artist. There are tons of elements needed to be able to thrive beyond the local market. You have to have good music, and you have to allow for yourself to be vulnerable. That is the only way that fans and supporters can see you for who you are, not just a Hip Hop artist. You also have to do a ton of branding as well to bring visibility and pique interest. To answer the second part of your question - I definitely feel like I am at that point.
Jason Bourne: You have a Biggie Smalls cover "Rap Phenomenon" which I think is really dope. Talk about the decision to jump on that track; not many people can flow well on the work of legends.
Clear Mind: I was actually listening to the real track in the car with my mother one day. I had heard the track plenty of times before but listening to it again just gave me the urge to want to rhyme to it. That's one of my favorite 90s beats and B.I.G is one of the best to ever do it so I felt like it was only right that I pay homage to one of the greats.
Jason Bourne: The visual is super clean, talk about the process.
Clear Mind: There really wasn't much of a process to it. I just knew that the setting had to have a very raw and rugged look which is why I chose that area to shoot it in. When it was time to do the shoot everything was freestyle, I pretty much did what I felt was right.
Jason Bourne: You have a project available as of now, correct; the title is substantial. How did you come up with it?
Clear Mind: Yes I do, it's called "Swords, Metaphors & Pressure Points" (SMPP for short). I came up with the name as I realized the theme I wanted to use for the project. This pertained to my lyrical ability and being able to express the physical capabilities of a samurai in written form. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge nerd and I love Japanese culture. I am a big fan of the samurai warriors from that time period. I wanted to do something that was fun, challenging and felt right to me. Thus, SMPP was created.
Jason Bourne: What can people expect sonically on the project?
Clear Mind: People can expect nothing but BARS! From front to back; all the way through.
Jason Bourne: Any collaborations on the project?
Clear Mind: I had a few collaborations on the project. I worked with 3 other Hip Hop artists from the area- Mic Lanny, Devin B, and Promise the Unbreakable. I also worked with another producer on the project by the name of GRAND who produced 5 of the tracks on the project.
Jason Bourne: You were recently featured in the local newspaper - how was that?
Clear Mind; Man it felt good to be in the Times Union! I felt like that was a big thing because that happens to be the biggest newspaper in my area. It felt really good to get that kind of notoriety.
Jason Bourne: how much of a help of hindrance maybe has social media been as it relates to your journey in music?
Clear Mind: I always saying that social media can make or break you. It's really how majority of people are going to reach you especially in today’s world. People can and will judge you based on the content you post. Unfortunately, some will judge you on the following and amount of likes. You can turn people off easily by what you portray, or you can have them embrace you. It's a complex thing. For me, it’s all about being yourself. You can definitely kill your career before it even begins. I personally use it to my advantage by allowing people to see me for who I really am and not just my Hip Hop persona - Clear Mind. I like to be able to engage with my fans and supporters because those are the ones who are going to help me get to where I want to be.
Jason Bourne: what do you think separates you from your contemporaries?
Clear Mind: I think my ability to create rhymes over any beat. I also produce my beats I think that is an advantage I have in many cases. I make good music that shows I am lyrically inclined at the same time. I have all the skills necessary to put myself in a great position within the industry.
Jason Bourne: 5 produces that if you could you would work with them on your next project - who’s on your list and why?
Clear Mind: 5 producers I would work with on a project. (Pauses). Would have to be 9th Wonder, Statik Selektah, 40, AraabMuzik, and Cardiak Flatline. These guys are literally my favorite producers. I feel like they would bring the best out of me which would allow me to grow.
Jason Bourne: What does success in this business look like to you?
Clear Mind: Making my Idols become my rivals. That's what success looks like to me.
Jason Bourne: Who is Clear Mind?
Clear Mind: Clear Mind is an artist hailing from Albany, NY looking to create his own lane within the Hip Hop world by making great / memorable music. I seek longevity, greatness like the legends. I would like to be considered one of the best who have ever touched a mic all the while staying true to myself. Through vulnerability, persistence, growth, skill, focus, hard work, and consistency I will be able to accomplish those goals and fulfill my dreams.
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