The Clarence Greenwood Recordings
This is the second solo album from Clarence Greenwood, a.k.a. Citizen Cope. The engaging beat-driven singer/songwriter grew up in the Washington DC area, and he cut his teeth performing briefly with artfully experimental hip-hop group Basehead in the '90s.
"Things have been getting real heavy these days," runs the first line of the album, from the song "Nite Becomes Day," and that does sum up a key component of Cope's lyrics throughout the album. There are characters suffering through hard times or twisted delusions running in and out of these 11 songs. However, "Nite Becomes Day" goes on to say in its chorus, "I believe in the same thing that makes the night become the day." Love, Cope explains, is the answer to all that heaviness in our lives. It makes sense that some of the album was recorded in that one-time hippie mecca, Jimi Hendrix' Electric Ladyland Studios in New York.
But the heaviness Cope begins the album describing rears its head throughout the album. Like in "Bullet and a Target" in which he describes trouble in the world, and then zeroes in on a young woman caught in a tough life and engaged to a menacing lunatic. Cope has a talent for using a simple line to sum up a lot about his characters. About this woman's fiance, the line goes "had a .45 that he always cleaned/Said one day one day too many days." Cope very concisely crafts a palpable portrait of this frightening guy.
Citizen Cope's musical style is an engaging blend of singer/songwriter acoustic guitar, hip-hop beat, and rock touches. He manages to keep his vocal style always hovering between singing and rapping. The result is continually energetic music but with a troubadour's ear for allegorical commentary. The Clarence Greenwood Recordings makes for a great and thought-provoking listen.