CHAPEL HILL, NC – One of the first words that comes to mind for most fans of hip-hop artist Clyde Kelly is: Smooth.
The 24-year-old North Carolina native has been making music for roughly a decade, developing a unique sound that is quietly attracting a cross-genre following that spans beyond hip-hop. His new single “Summer Breeze” is already starting to draw great reviews, and he said he’s proud of the song because it showcases the kind of sentiment he hopes to capture in his music.
“It’s a song that talks about the reflection and thought process that I think everyone experiences sometimes,” he said. “I’ll get caught up in day-to-day stressful situations – I gotta be here, I gotta do this, I gotta go to work – and I have to really concentrate on bringing it all back to the center and realizing what really matters. Last summer I was sitting out on my porch having one of those moments and I remember telling myself, ‘It’s all good. You shouldn’t be sweating the small stuff.’ And that’s how this song came about. Perhaps the most poignant line of the chorus says, ‘Life is good, at least a lot of it.’ And that’s one of the key things I want people to take from my music – remembering to take a deep breath and enjoy life.”
Kelly describes his sound as unique, and points to artists such as Andre 3000, Anderson .Paak, and J. Cole as similar artists who deliver a smooth-sounding rap that often has a stronger emphasis on melody than other hip-hop artists.
“I’m not a big fan of choppy, jagged flows,” Kelly said. “I like to do smoother, rolling flows with alternating rhyme schemes. It’s definitely more melodic than a lot of hip-hop that you hear – in fact, some of my songs would border on R&B or pop.”
Most of his music is born from the inspiration that arises in the midst of emotional distress. Much of his early poetry – which has since been transformed into lyrics – was written during a childhood that saw a father in-and-out of rehab while dealing with drug addiction.
“Music is something that I go to for catharsis when I feel like I’m in hot water emotionally, or if something happened,” he said. “It was a big crutch for me in the past few years of my life. I talk about a lot of things with my music – like money or women or religion – but it all comes from the bigger questions in life that can cause emotional stress. I had a single mother trying to raise me, two sisters and a brother while my dad had a drug problem. That caused a lot of emotional turmoil. When I was a freshman in college, he passed away from an overdose, and I lost myself in poetry – just writing tons and tons of poems, many of which have been turned into lyrics.”
Much of that work can be found on his new album, “Not Rich Yet,” which is scheduled to be released in September. The album comes under the independent label Halliburton Productions, run by Zachariah DeBartolo. Kelly said he met DeBartolo while attending the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. When DeBartolo heard Kelly freestyle, he decided to sign him to his new label.
To hear Kelly’s new single, “Summer Breeze,” check out his website WhoIsClydeKelly.com, or visit Soundcloud. And for more information about upcoming live performances or exact release dates for the new album, follow him on social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.