R&B singer-songwriter Steven A. Clark broke onto the scene in 2010 with his soul-baring and darkly arranged eight-song LP debut STRIPES, which earned him the title of “Miami’s best independent album of 2011” by local hip hop site The305.com, but it’s with his upcoming project, Fornication Under the Consent of the King that his artistry reaches new heights.
Alongside Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, the Fayetville, North Carolina native is a top forerunner in the Future RnB movement, spearheading a confident and new type of indie-rock and hip hop infused rhythm and blues that belies their young age. Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Clark’s songwriting reflects his absolute acceptance of the effects of love, including the adoration and despise, bliss and pain, and drinking and drugs. Building on the self-produced, written, and performed sound of STRIPES, Clark takes his synth-kissed sound one step beyond, cutting away niceties and digging into the core of his personal afflictions with F.U.C.K.
“F.U.C.K. means a lot as far as saying f*ck a lot of things I don’t agree with. But for the most part, it’s f*ck love, f*ck relationships, f*ck some of these girls. It’s a lot of sh*t,” bemoans Clark. “I just got out of a relationship that had been long-term, and I don’t know. It’s kind of like the first thing that comes to mind when you break up with somebody.”
The sentiment shines through on “She’s in Love,” a storytelling tale of a girl who misplaces her affection for Clark on the city. He roughs it up on album single “Don’t Have You,” a darkly veiled letter to his ex where he wails about moving on from his past, which resulted in his ex cutting off all communication after hearing the demo. Compared to his breakout 2010 debut STRIPES, Clark reaches new emotional highs – even more than his genre contemporaries.
“The records now are a little deeper, more personal, and more raw,” explains Clark, whose love of The Neptunes, Sade and Boyz II Men shine through on his eclectic compositions. “I guess R&B was missing something, but I think things are happening the way they’re supposed to. As our influences change, the music will, too. It was only a matter of time.”
Indeed, Clark is adding some needed seasoning to R&B, handling his own production, songwriting and recording. Like his peers, the musical artisan croons gut-busting lyrics about his personal life. But it’s his artistry that’s more vast, incorporating rap, R&B and funk into his skin-burrowing confections.
Trace it back to his matriculating at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina, where he found solace in relationship therapy through singing. He put collegiate life on the backburner in his junior year, chasing his musical dreams down to Miami where he cut his teeth working in a professional recording studio and set initial groundwork for STRIPES. But it was when he began recording F.U.C.K., due this summer, that he finally learned to let go.
“There is no philosophy; it’s a feeling. I’m making music that feels good and natural to me,” he says. “I want people to know that good music is a feeling and it’s raw and it should always be that way. It’s personal, it’s tough and it’s just simply good music. That’s what I want people to take away from it: that it’s good sh*t.