Hailing From Red Hook, Clyde Guevara, Aims To Pour His Past Heartache Into His Music

Clyde Guevara is #TheContrastMan. When asked what truly defines a man, Clyde says, “I think a man is defined by his reaction to failure.” He continues, “That’s where I believe we’re made or broken. Failing and still having faith. Taking losses and staying resilient. Being wrong and able to apologize. The ego checking. This has nothing to do with status.

Clyde was brought up in Red Hook, Brooklyn with his siblings, but he was so close to including his brother Jah. As they were growing up, Jah was arrested and served a lengthy jail sentence. After being jailed for some time, he was eventually released, but unfortunately, he was killed not long after his release. This made him lack inner peace of mind and heart, but it opened other doors. After being troubled for a long time, he made the decision to leave Brooklyn and move to Los Angeles to focus on his music. After moving to LA, he got the opportunity to work with Grammy-award winning songwriter, Harold Lilly and create his first project, FreeJAH.

Guevara decided to venture more into a music career while his genre balances a modern approach with some traditional skills. He has sung numerous songs, but mostly they range from dark and moody to carefree and composed. But what has made many people fall in love with his music is the energy and intensity he uses while singing; it is unwavering.

I always loved music growing up but I didn’t start creating music until i met my bro Harry who moved to LA with me,” says Clyde about his friend who passed away. “Harry introducing me to music made me love music more.

For Guevara, his love of music was cultivated in his mind at a tender age, and thus it became his first language. His mother used to sing to him, and during their rides, they would listen to music in their car, which made him love music more. So singing FreeJAH was from inside his heart. “Before he passed, JAH told me if I didn’t make it out the hood, he wouldn’t be shit,” Clyde says. “That conversation still hurts and haunts me. I promised him that wouldn’t happen.”

Clyde revealed that in New York, life was not easy, and he was going through a lot of difficulties, but in Los Angeles, life is a little brighter, and so is some of his music. However, he said he had not changed his lifestyle, and it just added another chapter to his story.

He grew up listening to numerous music, which evolved his passion for music. The artist is still growing as a person and in his music career, but he stated that he had found his purpose, and thus he is putting more effort into ensuring it is successful.

Even though Clyde is recognized as among the most successful artists, he stated that every venture has its challenges, and you must learn to overcome them and live up to your purpose. Growing up in the hood had pros and cons that greatly influenced his music career. Schooling with students exposed to drugs made him realize that the hood is everywhere but never changed his perspective about his music career.

Besides, he states that moving to LA had a great impact on his music and made him take it more seriously, although it never changed that he grew up in Red Hook, and forever he will always be proud of the way he grew up.

You are #TheContrastMan. What is the true definition of a man? I think a man is defined by his reaction to failure. Traditionally we classify men by masculinity, appearance, providing, protecting, etc. What happens when we fall short of those expectations? Relationship failures, failure to love or be loved, failed opportunities.

That’s where I believe we’re made or broken. Failing and still having faith. Taking losses and staying resilient. Being wrong and able to apologize. The ego checking. This has nothing to do with status. I’ve seen rich people fail and kill themselves and poor people so afraid to fail, they don’t even try.

How did you first discover your love for music?  Music is my first language. Before I could talk and walk my family communicated through song. I still remember my mother singing to me as a child. Whether it be her cleaning on Sunday with the Mary J in the background. The car ride with whatever the radio was serving up. Grandma’s house. Music was embedded in me before I even had a choice.


How has growing up in Brooklyn inspired your music? I grew up rough in Red Hook Projects. Hence the emotion in my music. Brooklyn is the root of my story. It’s in my DNA. The feeling, diversity, adversity, architecture. It’s not all bad. It’s actually a beautiful place. Even in the poorest, dirtiest, most tragic places there’s beauty. Its like telling a messy story over an elegant beat.

Listen to Clyde Guevara’s “Jedi” below!

You credit Pharrell, Tupac, JAY-Z and Radiohead as inspiration for your music. What is it about them that you relate to? I love those artists a lot, but I think I just picked them out of the bunch. It’s always been hard for me to just narrow it down to any specific artist. I get inspired by good music no matter what genre. It’s the passion I’m attracted to after the music. I love music and the artist I can tell love it too. I’ve learned so much as a man through music. Whether it be lyrics from Jay-Z or melodies from Thom Yorke. It all evokes something. It all moves me.

Why is being open and honest with your music so important? My ability to make music is bigger than me. This gift was bestowed upon me. I didn’t decide it. So altering it from its purest form isn’t for me to decide either. I read a phrase “Thou Art God.” It is your Art that connects Thou to God. With that being said what are you going to say? The truth. I’ll just leave it at that.

How has venting through your music allowed you to heal? Music gives me a space to talk, scream, and yell about my problems without any direct judgement. Music won’t judge the way I feel. It’s literally a punching bag when I need it, motivation when I need it, love when I need it, an ear when I need it. Therapy.

How do you get into a creative headspace? I think having a creative headspace is just a part of the gift. It never turns off. Not just music, every part of my life. I’m constantly thinking about creating. From the clothes I wear, buildings I walk in, chair I sit in. Any and everything honestly.

Who are some of your dream collaborations? Name 5!
Dream collaboration, that’s tough.
Young Stevie Wonder
Notorious BIG
Roy Ayers
I really like Thundercats sound too.
But this is just how I feel today. Tomorrow’s list could and probably would be completely different.

What is your philosophy in life?
“I don’t know anything”. That keeps me thirsting for knowledge. Keeps me a student. The more I tell myself I don’t know anything about life the more I want to learn. Dive deeper.

What’s next for you, Clyde Guevara? More creating. More learning. Sharing what I learned. Helping my family. More working coming soon.

The definition of Contrast is “to be strikingly different.” What makes you strikingly different?
Jackie only had one me lol. I’m me. I’m not afraid to be me and they’ll never be another one.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Contrast Magazine. michael@contrastmag.us


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