Interview with Clement Marfo | Edition XIX
Artist Interview, Clement Marfo of Clement Marfo and the Frontline
By Jasmine Martin
How long have you been rapping?
Since I was 15. I’m now 22 so probably seven years now. I started in a school playground, in year 10, year 11 and everybody had just started to do rap freestyles on the playground. Once I just saw that, I saw the older, older students doing that, and I just picked up and was like ‘I want to do that as well!’ I could remember lyrics from like, Tupac, Biggie, anybody that was coming up, even Jay-Z, and I would remember a lot of his lyrics. Then I would try to rap their lyrics, and said you know what? I can do that myself. So I was in the playground just spittin and I started to get more love from there. People were acknowledging the lyrics and my confidence as well; I’m a bit of a cheeky guy, so they was like “Wow!” They loved this kind of character. And the more I got acknowledgement from it I just continued.
What different types of music have inspired you?
Here in the UK there was a musical stype called garage [GAR-age]. And garage was a soulful vibe, it had a mix of soul with fast beats, like 140 bpm, so you know it was just a good vibe, and that was our version of hip hop. So then there was crews like Soul Solid Crew, was like the main group that got the commercial appeal at that time. Their album came out and everybody who was like, 15 or 16 wanted to be an emcee. I was listening to garage a lot, as well as the hip- hop. It wasn’t early, early hip hop [but] was more like Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, everyone who was popping up during those times. Jay- Z, I think it was the Gift and the Curse, but there was just loads of rappers and hip hop was fresh then, it got to its commercial state. But I was very into pop as well! My parents listened to a lot of Annie Lennox, Bob Marley, Phil Collins and stuff so I had a lot of music in my house. But cuz pop music was very strong in England, it was all about Sclub7, Spice Girls, and for a black guy to listen to that, it was everywhere!
How did these musical forms affect your sound?
I wasn’t the person talking about coming from a poor background and angry and I just want to shoot someone, I wasn’t like that, I was positive, and I wouldn’t say pop influenced my style but I would say I was more of a cleaner MC, See like will smith doesn’t swear in his lyrics at all so it’s kind of that angle, pretty much.
When did you begin to launch your career?
I was second year in Uni and I had a part time job as well and I just quit both of them. I just said, you know what, Mum, Dad, I know you want me to get my degree, I know you want me to have finance coming in and out but I was getting to a point where I was getting a lot of label interest as well, so I just said ‘You know what? Let me focus on it.’ Cuz I’m in lectures and it’s 9 o’clock in the morning and all I could think about was doing a show or writing a song so I couldn’t concentrate. But I never grew up to be like, I want to be a music artist, it just came naturally. [As a solo artist] I did everything from the get go, everything from school- business studies, media- I learned naturally. I knew how to design my own logos, knew how to set up my own videos, so I had this vision, I wanted to take over the world. You see how Jay-Z started with Roc-A-Fella I wanted to do something similar. So I had the song called “Fresh Starts,” and it got a lot of Internet buzz, it got a lot of plays and a few radio plays as well. From then I thought ‘Wow! I’m getting a few shows here and there, people are showing interest,’ and I said, ‘You know what? I need a band that can give me that kind of dynamic live performance.’ Cuz me I can rip a stage but I need drums, I need guitars, I need that energy. So that’s when I started looking for a band, and a friend introduced me to my drummer, Dion, and it just hooked up from there. And when we had a rehearsal session it just blossomed, naturally.
Who are some people you would like to work with?
Management doesn’t really want me [collab] to right now, they want me to develop my sound, but there are some artists…do you know Pixie Lock? She’s a soul singer, and I would love to work to her. But because we’re so diverse and got so many different aspects in our group, I don’t really think we need much.
What do you want to be your legacy?
Music with no boundary. I feel like everything has its own pigeonhole, hip hip, soul, rock. Music is universal, music is a language. So I just cant wait till that point where someone in Africa, someone in Asia, someone in America, Europe, can be singing, “Champion! Champion!” And they know the song, our single. Like Michael Jackson, someone that doesn’t know English knows all the lyrics to it. And I’m not saying I’m trying to be a legend, but that’s the aim. I really want to make music for the world, not just my own community, not just my country, but for the world. I live by this quote: “Aim not to have more, but to be more” from Archbishop Romeo. And that just speaks to me, it’s more than materialistic things, it’s more than, I’ve got my six Bentleys and my six mansions and I’ve got girls around me. It’s not really about that. It’s deeper than that. I want to be more than just Clement Marfo. I want to be someone who can inspire.
Lastly, could you talk about any long-term goals you have in mind?
I want to go to nearly every continent and hear people saying “Champion! Champion!” We’ve done a lot of big shows, but now it’s all about the festivals. This year we went to Holland, the Solar Festival, and ripped it up as well. It’s just building, we’re gradually building the fanbase. Next year it’s going to be soooo amazing. Album might be out in March, I don’t want to give an official date for it, but it’s sounding like a monsterpiece. We perform six songs at each show, so a quarter of the album is shown already in the live set, but the rest of the stuff…woooo! Monsters…the hooks! The hooks man…I just can’t wait. We just need the right buzz. We don’t want to sell 100 thousand. We want to sell 100 million. And that’s the aim.