by Andre Early
It’s around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and in the passenger seat of my faded green 2001 Honda Accord is Dom McClennon.
He’s spending time in his hometown of East Hartford, Connecticut, visiting family and friends before he eventually needs to travel back to Los Angeles, where he’s recording music with his collective, or “boy band” as he prefers to call it, Brock Hampton.
While the ride was certainly awkward at moments, it was memorable, to say the least.
My faulty stereo could have been to blame, and because of this, the only sounds emitted throughout the entire 45-minute ride to and from a local recording studio came from sporadic segments of conversation, or the cell phone that sat in between us blaring out a variety of Chance The Rapper songs.
Still, accepting that as the source of the awkwardness would only be a partial truth.
McClennon is simply an awkward person. Not the type of awkward that stems from a social media addiction, but the type of awkward expect in a silent elevator with Donald Glover.
Unlike the many pseudo-intellectual individuals who regurgitate whatever has come across on their Facebook feed in the last twelve hours, McClennon is a guy who actually knows what he’s talking about, and is more than willing to share his world views.
“The biggest threat to the system would be if everyone were to just be like ‘F**k bipartisanship!’ Now that would really get you shot,” McClennon said, when speaking of Donald Trump and the 2016 election.
At around 3:45 p.m., we pull up to his friend Justin G, or “J.G.’s,” studio, which has become a musical hub for emerging local artists like McClennon and Lonny X, who achieved a considerable amount of recognition after headlining a set on the Boiler Room, a popular YouTube-based music platform.
Being inside the studio was an experience all-in-itself. Pink and Purple lights illuminated the room, as the energy was very mellow, woozy and intoxicating.
At last, McClennon appeared to truly be in his comfort zone. The studio is his natural habitat; no tension, no fear, no anxiety.
In the midst of me setting up for our interview, he randomly decided to perform three unreleased songs, which were striking and left no choice but to pay attention and record them all.
The songs he performed were thought-provoking and detailed, but the second song he performed was personal and idiosyncratic.
“You can’t disturb the vibe. It’s on another level, this self-destructive time, I don’t think I can settle down anymore,” said McClennon. “By observing JG, I knew that his words served their purpose.”
McClennon is not just a rapper. He’s a painter who carefully strokes the surface of his canvas so delicately that there’s absolutely no room for error.
This is not a hobby to him. This is his profession, and he wanted to make sure that is understood.
“Everyone needs something, not only that they can focus their energy on, but something that they can focus their energy on that they’re passionate about,” McClennon said.
His passion, along with the passion of those in his “boy band” Brock Hampton, has reached the ears of celebrity DJ A-Trak, who has signed them to his record label “Fool’s Gold.” This label has respectably housed artist like Danny Brown, Chromeo, Kid Cudi and Run The Jewels.
Brock Hampton has had a number of notable accomplishments, including performing together at Fool’s Gold Day Off, acquiring a sponsorship from Ray-Ban and releasing their debut mixtape “All-American Trash” early in 2016.
“They’ve been there for me plenty of times when I literally had nothing… Those are the people who give me the least amount of anxiety more than anything else. At any point and time, I know I can pass an idea to them and they’ll give me their best, their honest opinion, and best feedback and I know they’ll have my best interest at heart when they say it,” McClennon said.
All the members of Brock Hampton have a unique sound, which is a part of what makes them so captivating, individually and as a whole.
The collective may be his biggest claim to fame, but McClennon has the potential to be huge on his own, especially in a day and age where anyone with a progressive agenda, strong work ethic, and a zany outlook on life seems to have some sort of lottery ticket into the world of viral stardom.
He has the talent, the audience, and just as much support as he wants. The world waits on him now.