Citizen Cope wants people to connect with his music. After three album releases across four different record labels, he has reached name recognition status, singing about life and aims to capture music as if it were a photograph revealing some truth about the world around him.
The Associated Students Productions Pop Music presents Citizen Cope May 24 in the Multipurpose Room. The show begins at 7 p.m.
Citizen Cope, whose real name is Clarence Greenwood, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Having lived in Texas and Mississippi, he claims to have ‘found his voice' in Washington D.C. He began his musical career around his mid-20s in D.C. when he started experimenting with a drum machine and sampling techniques. He added this experimentation on top of songs he had written on his guitar to hone in on his sound. The background he had as a dj also proved helpful for Cope's role as a self-producer, according to Citizen Cope's Web site and Wikipedia.
Citizen Cope creates a politicized musical world, engaging the listener with his words and rhymes with lyrics like, “The state put the youth in a harness/ Creatin' hostility among us/ Teacher said no college/ Still the kid's gotta get a check with a couple commas/ People wanna bomb us/ More people gotta scatter and run from us/ You can blame it on Zeus and Apollo and Adonis,” from the song “A Bullet and a Target.”
In other songs the politics are pushed aside to reveal Cope's more sentimental stance. In the song, “If there's Love” from Citizen Cope, he sings, “Where you been hidin'?/ I'm believing/ You give me life/ Life my dear/You give me strength to beat the odds/ And overcome my fears/ You make me feel like I belong under the sun/ You never grow old/
Because you're forever young.”
Citizen Cope often combines folk sounds with blues lyricism and hip-hop beats. Because of this, Cope has said that mainstream radio and other mass media outlets have had a difficult time labeling his music, which has led to less recognition and radio play, according to information on his Web site.
Citizen Cope said that because mainstream radio didn't know what to do with his genre-breaking music, he felt he would have to reach out to fans himself by touring. In 2004, he spent 16 months touring, extensively promoting The Clarence Greenwood Recordings. Currently, he is touring to promote his latest album, Every Waking Moment, released in September 2006.
He has, in addition to touring success, seen a lot commercial success in films and advertisements. The song “Son's Gonna Rise” off of his album The Clarence Greenwood Recordings-released in 2004-was featured in a Pontiac commercial. His music can also be found on the soundtracks of many independent movies, especially surf films, like Wordz: a Longboarding Lexicon and other musical compilations, like Carlos Santana's Shaman album, which has sold more than 5 million copies.
Citizen Cope resides in Brooklyn, New York where he continues to write songs about life, politics and love.