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Judge for Cleva

Bloomington, CA
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Portrait of Cleva
Cleva's new album, The Game of Life, is 16 tracks of Hip Hop performed with uncompromising originality – the usual driving funk accompanied by subtle lyrics and original arrangements that draw on surprising musical styles.“I truly hate it when I hear people say Hip Hop is not music. That's what I want to change. I want people to have a musical experience either through the instrumentation or harmonies that they haven't had with Hip Hop before,” says the 26-year-old singer who composed, arranged, and produced the album as well.And it's not just the music that explores new territories; it's the lyrics as well – gritty yet positive, unflinching yet hopeful. “I was raised in neighborhoods that invested everything in gang violence. While that's true of most rappers, they rap their experience; I rap what I've learned from my experience.”Cleva began developing his gift in music at the early age of five years old, training in classical piano for three years before moving on to guitar. At 12, Cleva began developing as a lyricist, heavily influenced by Dr. Dre, Dj Quik, Tupac, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound, Ant Banks, Notorious Big, and Outkast just to name a few.At 16, Cleva began to hang out in different studios and became a student in the art of production. He fell in love with composing tracks but realized that one of the weaknesses in the game was the lack of musical originality. So he refused to sample any compositions and decided to write everything himself.At 18 he returned to his musical roots with intense training for three years in jazz theory on both piano and guitar.There's a rare maturity found on The Game of Life. It's the maturity of an accomplished artist, yes, but also the maturity of a genre on its way to growing up