Shy London Rapper: Clavish’s 2018 debut was as low-key as the north London rapper’s style: he dropped slick bars over a Migos beat while leaning out the window of a hatchback and flicking off lyrics like they were old responsibilities.
Even though the video was only 40 seconds long, it took the internet by storm. On the song “All These Funds,” which came after the buzz, he turned the camera from portrait to landscape and showed off a grim, uniquely British take on trap music that was different from what Migos did.
People wanted to have more. On the other hand, Clavish didn’t say anything. He doesn’t talk a lot. We know this because he says it on the bittersweet song “Ain’t Gonna Lie,” which is at the end of the 2022 EP from last year.
His social media pages don’t have bios, and he doesn’t do interviews (see June’s gliding track “No Interview” for an example). In the “about” section of Spotify, where 1.5 million people listen to him every month, it just says “Instagram: clavish.”
So, even if it sounds old-fashioned, the only way to find out what Clavish has to say is to listen to his music. He is best known for his cold, distant rap songs, which have been very popular over the last two years. On Ain’t Gonna Lie, he says, “Give it a beat, and I’ll say a lot.”
Some of Clavish’s lyrics can be hard to understand. His writing is rough and straight to the point, but it is full of double meanings that turn crack rocks into iced-out watches. Domestic violence and sexual intimacy clash.
The word “dripping” can mean both trendy clothes and being stabbed. The stories he tells show the sometimes narrow paths that rap and trap take, as well as the goals that people who are trying to make it in either genre have in common.
Clavish has learned how to twist these threads until there is enough tension to make them teeter: a walking, confusing, and interesting contradiction.
As his popularity has grown, it’s become harder for him to ignore the attention. He’s been nominated for Mobo and GRM Daily awards, had a Top 10 hit with “D-Block Europe,” and sold out a string of 2023 tour dates in the past few months.
This summer, he was making a music video in Santorini when an excited American tourist came up to him and asked for his autograph and some ideas for a love letter. Clavish signed his name with a grin. But he didn’t really say much.
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