Cleazy’s Dreams

Tavia Green

Todd Claypool has mingled with millionaire musicians, actors and comedians.

He’s met everyone from P. Diddy to Nelly, B2K to Nick Canon, and their managers.

After attending the Billboard Music Awards for three years, this 18-year-old freshman is sure of one thing.

“I want to make this a way of life,” Claypool said. “I want to do something everyone else can’t.”

Known as Cleazy on the stage, Claypool is making his dream a reality.

He spends hours making “rough recordings” of songs on his dorm room computer and is currently recording his first maxi-single CD.

“This CD will get people’s ears wet,” he said confidently.

He moves one step closer to his dream when he performs tonight in the Campus Takeover concert at Diddle Arena as an opener for national acts Chingy and the Ying-Yang Twins.

It will be Claypool’s first solo performance.

“I am nervous,” he said. “It’s a mix of emotions, but I have a lot to prove to a lot of people, including myself.”

The Bowling Green native is diligently working toward a rap career, but Claypool said that one of his goals is to graduate from Western with an economics degree.

He doesn’t plan to give up on either goal.

The road in pursuing a music career has not been smooth.

“I remember my first performance,” he said, a smile spreading across his face. “I was 14 years old at a talent show in DUC. I got on stage and the lights were so bright. When they dimmed them and I saw the audience, it got real quiet. The mic squeaked and I stuttered the first words I rapped … I was so scared.”

But since those early days Claypool has tapped into his own creativeness and found his true love – writing and composing his own music.

He also plays the keyboard, trombone and drums. He has found that the keyboard helps him compose his lyrical art.

His writing process includes many hours of writing and formatting lyrics, followed by making beats, hooks and recording.

Claypool is working with Walk with John Entertainment to get his career off the ground.

His manager and financial coordinator, Brian Walker, a partner at Walk with John, said he hopes that this concert is a “boost” to Claypool’s career.

“He’s very talented, and I really believe in him.” Walker says. “He is the hottest new artist to come out of Bowling Green. He’s even been praised by Nappy Roots star Big Vito as having ‘one of the hottest demos.’ and Big V has received demos from people all around the globe.”

Claypool started his career early. Before becoming a solo act he was in a group – a very large group.

“We were like Wu-Tang Clan,” he said.

Since that time, he has gone from that large group to a two-man act and now, for the first time, a solo performer.

Walk with John is promoting Claypool in surrounding areas.

He has the right mindset to make it to the top.

“I am doing the concert pro bono, but the experience itself is worth more than the monetary value,” he said. “You have to crawl before you can walk.”

With a modest attitude, raw motivation and drive to push himself, he may have what it takes to reach what he calls “Nelly status.”

Claypool had a huge decision to make when he graduated from Bowling Green High in 2003. Should he pursue his musical career full time or go to college?

“My mom really wanted me to go to college, but I wanted to sign a deal,” he said. “She pressed the importance of college, meeting people, and we argued. Here I am.

“It’s not hard balancing schoolwork and my music. You always make time for something you love to do.”

Claypool has spent an average of two hours a day practicing for tonight’s show. At times he has practiced late into the night, but he knows that it pays off in the long run.

Though he works hard during school hours, he still likes to take a break and chill out.

“I really like hanging with my friends,” he said. “I also love watching the movie ‘Scarface.’ And I like vanilla ice cream.”

Chris Withrow, Claypool’s friend and partner at Walk with John Entertainment, has been part of the team that is trying to promote Claypool.

“When the idea of the show came up, Cleazy was automatically one of our opening acts,” Withrow said. “He is one of our marquee artists.”

With tonight’s show and his sights set on both educational and musical careers, Claypool has a journey set out for him. And he has the drive and motivation to reach his destination.

“I’m ready,” he said.

Reach Tavia Green at [email protected]