Published Jul 14, 2020There's something alluring about the risks that Toronto MC Clairmont The Second continues to take with his music. Following up last year's Do You Drive? — an eclectic, self-produced gem of an album — he dropped It's Not How It Sounds.
Much like his previous album, the Toronto native melds sounds to his will, blending trap and soul vibes with playful synths and deliciously engaging chord changes making for a listen that swims against the current trends, driving a lane all its own.
There is a sense of self-awareness about this record that, at points, makes it feel extremely timely. "Wait" is a great example; here, he distances himself from pitfalls of a street lifestyle and references Toronto Police's infamous carding police: "Police always on the ave., 13 on Finch, homie getting frisked, like we weren't kids."
This lifestyle is something he touches on as well on "Clockout," featuring Cola H., where he notes that he's more likely to tell his people before he tells police when it comes to handling issues. He adds, "I don't want that beef, just in reality / Never been about damage, only about salary." Of course, this reference if buried within a looser theme, making it like a hidden jewel that's meant to be mined upon deeper listen.
A grand charm of this project is, like with past Clairmont releases, the sequencing. Orchestrating everything like a mad scientist gives it a sense of cohesion, even when things don't necessarily fit. This can be seen if we look at songs like the thundering "Gun Finger" or "Mad Selfish" (drenched in an updated '90s Cash Money Records aesthetic) juxtaposed against the neo-soul ballad "Dream."
This LP manages to reaffirm Clairmont's roots, alluding to a fork in the road that he faced on his ascent into a life he isn't willing to compromise or risk — but without ever taking himself too seriously. Most of all, even at a surface listen, It's Not How It Sounds is Clairmont continuing his campaign as one of Toronto's more important hip-hop acts — someone fans should keep tabs on as the scene continues to shift and grow. (Independent)