Like the mystic disciples of Eastern martial arts, Eric Guerrero studied hip-hop religiously for years before picking up the mic and donning the moniker Clev Speech. The patience and dedication have paid off, as Clev’s style of delivery, creative wordplay, and lyrical concepts help to position him among the most talented MCs involved in the Boise hip-hop scene. Clev’s initial foray as a solo artist saw the collaborative production and release of the Weapon X EP in May 2014, backed by beatmaster John Weighn. In 2016 the Clev/Weighn duo will be dropping The Great Raps Be…, as well as a collaborative project with Mo Diggs under the name Les Fortunate.
Long before Clev Speech began operating as a member of The Earthlings hip-hop crew, or even as a prolific solo MC, he was perfecting his craft by studying the heavy, gritty wordplay of GZA and Jeru the Damaja, the classic punchlines and delivery of Big L, and the simple yet cinematic execution displayed by Masta Ace. Careful and deliberate growth beginning at the age of 12 and fueled by extensive study of the hip-hop greats are what laid the groundwork for Clev’s first successful solo release.
Weapon X served as an extremely successful first project for Clev, putting him on the path to collaborate with other local artists such as Mo Diggs as well as future label-mates ATG and Andy O., as well as initiating a strong and lasting relationship between him and producer John Weighn. Preferring instrumentals whose elements and atmospheres are reminiscent of those produced by DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and 9th Wonder, Clev has naturally begun work on a full length boom bap album with Weighn. If tracks like The Countdown and P.I.M.P. indicate what the world has to look forward to, we’re all in for a treat.
It’s Clev’s strive for personal perfection that makes his art shine. Flawless inclusion of anime, old-school hip-hop, and alternative pop-culture references, an intricate and engaging flow and voice, and even Clev’s own all-original cover-artwork all act as the facets that make each one of Clev’s pieces a unique and imaginative gem—and he’s not averse to hiding that such high-caliber artistry is his goal:
“I’m my biggest fan, so I couldn’t care less if no one ever liked my shit,” he says with a smile. “I’m just making music that anyone can bump and listen to whenever they wanna hear some good hip-hop.”
As for the future?
“I plan on continuing to rap until I lose my voice. After that,” he adds, “I guess I’ll just have to pick up rapping in sign language.”