Houston, TX / Philadelphia, PA
Meet Johnny Clutch, a rapper born and raised in Houston and temporarily transplanted to Philly while he studies Computer Engineering at Drexel U. When the stereotypical rapper is regularly shoved down the throat of the masses by the labels and stations, especially in areas like Philly, it’s nice to listen to an artist that breaks the mold.
Johnny Clutch brings a realism to his music where others live in a hyper-dramatized state. He knows what it’s like to work hard, play hard, and pay his dues, and he focuses his creative efforts on bringing that realism to his fans. He’s just one of them, and he doesn’t pretend to be anything he’s not. While studying hard, raising his daughter and working his ass off, he serves as a reminder of what’s important and as a role model for those who want to follow his path. He proves that resilience and determination can get anyone through the highs and lows of life, and that no matter who you are or what’s going on in your life, you can find a way to pursue your passion.
Johnny took the time to answer some questions. Hear what he had to say:
AX: When did you start performing, and what’s your hometown?
Johnny: I’ve been performing all my life, but only recently (about a year and half ago) did I start rapping. It all started with me forestalling with my friends. My producer, Warehouse, just liked my voice and we started from there. My hometown is dat Htown!!! Houston, Texas. Born and raised there, although right now I’m laying my head here in Philadelphia trying to finish school at Drexel University.
AX: How would you describe your sound? Where do you pull your influences from?
Johnny: I’m influenced by all music from Al Green, The Isleys, and Sam Cooke to Trinity Garden, Cartel, UGK, and Scarface even Puddle of Mudd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Aerosmith. I have an extensive music collection and I love it all. So, with me being such a huge fan, I work extra hard to make songs I’d like to hear. As for my sound, I would have to say it’s “Real Life, Real Rap” it’s what we all go through on the daily, the triumphs and the struggles set to a crunked-up soulful soundtrack.
AX: What Sparked your interest in the music industry? Was there a specific person or event the really persuaded you to take your first steps to become and artist?
Johnny: I’ve always been attached to music in some way. I ran a hip hop web site called Dusoldiers.com in the late 90’s which grew into a promotions company, so the ties have always been there. Warehouse was the driving force to get me started, but the defining moment for me was playing my first demo for my man Bari the Beautiful from Theshowshow.com. He’s a total hard ass and doesn’t hold his tongue so when he heard it and was like “that’s pretty good”, that’s when I knew I was onto something.
AX: Is there anything that you hope your fans are able to take from your music?
Johnny: I’d like my fans to hear my music and apply it to whatever they’re going through and know that I’ve been there. Hell I’m still there! So stick it out and know every day is a new chance to make it happen; you just gotta grind. Remember, when the going gets rough, the tough don’t get going. WE GET TOUGHER!!!
AX: How do you come up with your material?
Johnny: Wow, I love this question. Well, song ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. I could be grooving to some ZZ Hill or just having a bad day a work, sitting in the van zoning out. Whatever I’m doing, when I get ideas I write’ em down and let them bounce around in my head for a few days before I start writing anything. I try to do stuff that sounds fresh or comes at a different angle than things I’ve heard before; sorta put my stamp on it, know what I’m talking bout?
AX: What do you feel sets you apart from other artist in your area and genre?
Johnny: With the boom of Houston right now I feel like I’m different from others from my city in that I can go line for line with anyone anywhere. You hear a lot of people say the South is a fad or that southern artists “can’t really rap,” but I feel I totally dispel that myth. As far as the Hip Hop goes I’m a complete emcee, I’m the total package and I do it with a style all my own. I’m for the people by the people.
AX: What would you say have been the best and most difficult parts of trying to succeed in the music industry? Any words of wisdom for other artists trying to follow the same path?
Johnny: The best is performing. Without a doubt it’s the best part of the game, it’s the whole reason I persevere. As for the most difficult, that would probably be getting heard. Everyone does music and people who are on already usually aren’t looking for additions to the camp unless you’re already raking in dollars. The industry is a gang of accountants from top to bottom, so dollar signs are the bottom line; your talent is an almost complete afterthought.
You up-n-comers out there:
1. Know that you gotta grind or have someone you trust do it for you. you can make the greatest songs but until people hear them you’ll just be the hottest dude in your basement. You need someone to be your bulldog and stay on promoters, radio, and venues to get your sounds to the people.
2. Beware of talkers, Everyone in the game talks a good game. Until you see paperwork or proof don’t get your hopes up or stop grinding your other sources. As my brother told me “If if was a fifth I’d be drunk right now”
3. Always be professional. Just because you don’t have big bucks don’t mean you can’t look like it when you’re contacting people. So, get a trademark, do professional emails and press releases, get a good looking web site up and make sure everything associated with you or your group is looking official, because then it is official.
AX: Where do you see this project taking you? Where would you like to find yourself in the next few years?
Johnny: Well, with the release of my second mix tape “Everything IS Bigger” I’m hoping to establish myself as a complete emcee. I can Make you think, laugh, cry, and shake your ass all in one lil 80 minute CD. I’m currently planning to be on tour with Hi-five and Silk for a few months, and my main focus is growing my fan base and performing for the people. I’m currently being looked at by GUNIT, Sony, Arista and Koch. With that said, in the next few years I’m hoping to rise to the forefront of hip hop and give Billboard’s favorite rappers a run for their money. In addition, I just wanna make good music for the people and finger paint with my daughter.
You can find out more about Johnny Clutch on his website, http://www.johnnyclutch.com/. You can pick up his music and merch, including his new mix tape “Everything is Bigger” and his first mix tape “Homegrown” in his online store, and if you purchase either one, you’ll get his double-sided single for “Fix Ya Face”/”Look Where I Been” tossed in. Be sure to check out Johnny Clutch while he’s still in our area!