Saturday, April 2

The Case of Edward: Where in the world is Clever Rev?

Where in the world is Clever Rev?

No diss to any of the MCs that frequent Beat the Brakes, but there is an MC named Clever Rev, and he is arguably the most talented of all the underground lyricists that I've heard in the last 10 years. That's right... not only did I fearlessly use the term “underground lyricist” in reference to an MC, but I also said that within a decade of Hip Hop coursing its way through my aural sensibilities there has only been a few that deserved the coveted and frequently pressed rewind button, and Clever Rev would be first on that list. Let me not be so superficial; I've molested rewind buttons all in the name of this MC named Clever. The problem is...Where is he? I haven't heard a shred of music from him in the last few years. And with the way Hip Hop music is hastily evolving, beached talent is akin to failure. But true talent rarely fades.

Let me tell you a quick story of how I came to such a worthy conclusion of the good Rev'n.

It all started with an advertisement to a club. The gaudy font that screamed "Underground Hip Hop Night" caught my attention more than the double D cups of the model that littered the front of this glossy pamphlet that some smelly street-teamer handed me. It was a club's specialty night of what they called “real” Hip Hop. This usually implied underground rap, which usually meant anti-pop rap. At least that's what I thought. But the days of yore are gone. These sub-sub-genres exist no more..the 90's are dead, yo, get over it! No problem. I like the potential of the future more than the past sometimes anyway. It advertised a DJ battle, a MC battle and a slew of unknown artists. And from being fed a steady diet of jackleg rhymers and radio-friendly yet ghetto-opulent rap music, I thought a blast of thoughtful rap would renew my faith in music. All that shit was to go down on this on particular night in this one club.

So I went. I went thinking I'd hear what Hip Hop was missing: lyricists. That's all I expected. A badly dressed, sweaty mc with a mic and a verbose, well-formulated and overconfidently delivered style of rap. Eight bucks and a stamped hand for apex entertainment. Good times.

So, the first MC takes the stage. Grabs the mic. Beat drops. Completely unimpressive. The next rapper: comically violent. Then the DJ puts his Macbook on old school, steps back and prudishly sips his Mickey's like some accomplished retard for his shuffled playlist of Kane and G Rap songs. Then a half-naked cunt gets on the mic to brag about her head-giving skills for 10 minutes. This bitch made H.W.A. look like The Flying fucking Nun with her talk about "making niggas cum." Another let down. I finally achieve a boregasm and make my way out of the shithole club.

The Pledge.

On the way out, I notice something peculiar in the distance: a battle. Or what seemed to be an authentic looking rap battle. How do rappers battle nowadays? A cypher. Two MCs standing face to face, one's hand gesticulating each phrase from his mouth like a mute. As I wander closer to the small crowd, I wasn’t overcome by the glamour of the infamous Good Life Cafe battles. Why? It was more like a battle for the front seat of the retard bus. To my dismay, the two rappers facing each other just screamed nigga-laden lyrics at one another for 10 minutes.

After every Mickey Mouse metaphor violently placed towards the opponent, the small crowd cheers. "What the fuck?" I thought, "Are they really impressed with this drivel?" My 2 year old could muster lyrics better that this! Where was the effort? Every bar spat was proudly futile. The ideas, the rhymes dissipated into nothingness in the night air as these two dolts went at it.

The Turn.

Then I thought...what happened to rappers that put forth effort? What happened to vocabulary? Unfortunately, the current era of hip hop has seen the decline of writers and rise of the "whatever the fuck they are" generation.

Then I thought again, "What ever happened to that one dude?" That nameless rapper that always had my head spinning? he said,

"..the slightest movement transmits across the delicate threads, you thought the levitation was glory, kid, instead it was death..."


"..I turn subtle text into double edged machetes,"
(but pronounces the plural machetes, "mah-shets" so it compliments the word "text" of the previous bar!)

Clever Rev. Clever, that's his name. I always knew I had his bootlegged snippets and shit I somehow managed to jack from Equalibrum's Soundclick page, but no album? Well, he did have an album, in 2001 with two others, Vertigone and Amen, calling themselves The Guild, and the album called The ReCollection, but no solo album. But, who is he?

Clever is an MC that alters the structure of language in his attempts at creating. Poetic in absolute form, it's not just a few witty lines peppered into a 16 bar spread, but a complex threading of words that inevitably leads the listener to "the prestige," which leaves your head spinning. Simply trying to grasp what he said is coming to terms with getting rocked by a Joe Walcott haymaker and somehow enjoying it, and then asking for another. Somber on the song Touchdown, but easily the soundtrack to the Vietnam war on Shoulder to Shoulder, the moods of Rev change but the witty wordplay remains.

Clever is lyrically what Andrew Wythe was to art; his canvas at times displays the emotional turmoil of a troubled man, but is amalgamated into a style that is seemingly coupled with a desire to please the listener. His vivid wordplay bends the axis of the English language, making words with disparate properties aesthetically pleasing. Fucking A.

My question is- where is Clever? Not only has his music stood the test of time (The Guild's ReCollection debuted in 2003), but virtually everything I’ve heard from him is incredible. So, why didn't he blow? Why did he stop?

I asked Equalibrum, the producer of many of his songs where he was and his response was something like, "I talk to him on AIM sometimes.." I'm thinking he needs to get Clever back in the lab because the duo made incredible music. Rev with the vivid lyricism combined with Equal's equally somber, musical and often times congratulatory sound makes for some ill Hip Hop music. But again, Hip Hop is evolving quickly. Are adherents of 90's-era formulas welcomed in an over-synthed time of simpleton nihilists? Should I even be catergorizing musicians? My gut says NO. But fuck that. What "they" want I certainly do NOT. I need Ahura Mazda coming out my headphones, dammit! Clever delivers. Equal was cool enough to send me a folder of songs, snips, a few unfinished joints, and some collabs done by Clever. All are still in rotation, all still immensely impressive. Peep the Rev'n at his best.

The Guild

(This is the group that Clever Rev was in with two others, Vertigone and Amen. The album is called "ReCollection" and used to be available on CDbaby)

The Guild (Clever, Vertigone & Amen) - Defy (2003)

These tracks were send to me by Equal on Facebook:

Going All In Feat. Clever (prod. by Equalibrum)

Shoulder2Shoulder feat. Clever

Ease My Pain feat. Clever and Intuition ORIG UNFINISHED (Prod. by Bsides & Equalibrum)

NoizeMedium (Kid Computer & Eq) - Touchdown (feat. clever) rough

Shes Late Again Feat. Clever (Prod. by Bsides) rough version

"To be interested solely in technique would be a very superficial thing to me. If I have an emotion, before I die, that's deeper than any emotion that I've ever had, then I will paint a more powerful picture that will have nothing to do with just technique, but will go beyond it."

Andrew Wyeth from The Helga Pictures