Citizen Cope to bring his multiple personalities, music to Grog Shop

Seth Roy

Citizen Cope, also known as Clarence Greenwood, brings his unique blend of funky beats, hip-hop and R&B on Wednesday to the Grog Shop.

As he was growing up in Washington D.C., Cope listened to musicians like A Tribe Called Quest and Stevie Wonder. He also taught himself to play guitar during his early teenage years.

Cope released a self-titled album in 2001 under the Dreamworks label. Since then, he signed with RCA and came out with The Clarence Greenwood Recordings late last year.

He describes the album as “incorporating beautiful elements” of both reggae and hip-hop. “It’s how I would do the styles,” Cope said of the album.

Despite having two albums of material to draw from, Cope said he plays predominantly from The Clarence Greenwood Recordings.

Citizen Cope has a laid-back feel to his songs; it’s the kind of music that is easy to get lost in and zone out.

His lyrics are interesting, and some of the topics on the record differ from the norm.

The second song off of Clarence Greenwood, titled “Pablo Picasso,” is a revealing venture into the mind of a madman. Cope likes to write short stories with his songs, and the main character of “Pablo Picasso” is delusional. He lives in front of a painting that he thinks is his girlfriend.

The song shows Cope is a lyrical master at keeping the listener on the edge of his or her seat until the end, revealing the true art.

Other songs, such as the stripped-down “Sideways,” have more common themes of longing for a companion from afar.

“I play ‘Sideways’ a lot,” Cope said. “Really, I enjoy the record as a whole.”

Another highlight on the album is the seemingly personal “D’Artagnan’s Theme,” which uses a Three Musketeers character to explain his feelings.

The song goes: “I’ve been sinning / I’ve been livin’ / I’ve been beaten by Saturdays / D’Artagnan, good ol’ D’Artagnan / He ain’t got a thing on me.”

In his first single, “Bullet and a Target,” Cope confronts the urban lifestyle, mainly drug addiction and the educational system, and those in power of it. “Fame” takes a cynical approach to becoming famous in America today, the ease of becoming famous and the consequences because of achieving the status.

Cope’s music is hard to define because it draws from so many different genres. He is a fan of just about any kind of music. To achieve different sounds on the album, guest artists appear on a few songs, including Carlos Santana on “Son’s Gonna Rise.”

“He’s like an ambassador,” Cope said of the guitarist. “An elder who’s still conscious.”

While Santana won’t be in Cleveland with Citizen Cope on Wednesday, the show still promises to be energetic, yet laid-back.

Contact Pop Arts reporter Seth Roy at [email protected].