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Big MC Clayton Lawrence Clay

Interview

I love Lawrence very much, and he loves his family. But Lawrence is intriguing. He is a prolific maker of things: wood, gold, “bling”—but especially drawings. I’m no psychologist, but his idiosyncrasies have become sophisticated and complicated, and it’s now nearly impossible for me to draw hard lines on what is the result of his autism, and what is the product of his creativity. Another thing Lawrence loves is rap culture. He draws reverential portraits of his favorite rappers, from Ice Cube to Jay-Z, and emulates their dress. Some of the drawings LAWRENCE CLAY Lawrence Clay Big MC Clayton are purely figurative, others incorporate abstract elements, or another of Lawrence’s favorite subjects: architecture. Lawrence draws intricate buildings and cityscapes from places like New York and London, overwhelming modern structures with twists, turns, and something sensorial.

I used to have extremely high fevers as a child, with hallucinations of things like race horses—those violent galloping horses described my feverish sensation perfectly. In Lawrence’s case I wonder if all the structural details that he draws, or the extensive catalog of rappers he renders, are an expression of his autism, an obsessively organized depiction of the way he thinks, or simply a love for architecture, or hip-hop. Sometimes I think Lawrence, in another life, would have been a designer, selfless and loving, exploding with ambition and success. He likes the limelight. Yet he is quite DIY, which is the modus operandi of an artist’s artist. He creates full-time, courageously selling his art in the streets—to share, but also as an excuse to meet people and go party—never ceasing to draw, depict and express. It is a life of art, of evolving creation, just trying to make sense of it all.

Isn’t that the life we all want?

“I’ve got loads of speakers. There was a party going on Saturday, at sort of a market. It was quite good, I brought one of my big speakers with me and started playing music in the street, like a DJ.”

TRISTAN BECHET — It’s Tristan man, your cousin, your cuz.

 

 

LAWRENCE CLAY — Yeah.

 

TB — You good? Where are you?

 

 

LC — I’m at home at the moment.

 

 

TB — What’s the plan for tonight?

 

 

LC — Few things going on. All sorts of things. Like, Christmas cards and stuff.

 

 

 

TB — I received your Christmas card! It’s got a rasta DJ, right? Who is that?

 

 

 

LC — Santa Claus.

 

 

 

TB — That’s cool. So listen, Lawrence, I saw this picture of you, with a blanket on the floor, with nine, ten drawings, one of them I believe is Ice Cube, right in the middle, surrounded by drawings of architecture. Are you selling those drawings in the city? Are people buying your drawings?

 

 

LC — They are.

 

 

 

TB — That’s fantastic, Lawrence. So we’ve got Ice Cube, and then I bought a drawing from you, do remember who it was of?

 

 

 

LC — Yeah. Flo Rida.

 

 

TB — That’s right, I love that painting. It seems like you have mainly rappers in your drawings. Tell me a little bit about that, is it because you like the music?

 

 

 

LC — I like the music. The skin color’s quite good to draw, and the features, the shapes.

 

 

 

TB — What about the cities, which city do you like to draw the best?

 

 

 

LC — I think New York. It’s got big buildings. Tall buildings.

 

 

 

TB — Tell me about your fashion these days.

 

 

LC — I wear all different sort of trousers, and different T-shirts and things. I wear jewelry occasionally. Not all the time. Sort of, silver things, or gold things. Big medals and things. And hats as well, I wear different hats.

TB — Like, hip-hop hats?

 

 

LC — Yeah, hip-hop.

 

 

 

TB — Because you like ‘90s hip-hop, right? That’s probably why you like New York so much. But there’s hip-hop in London too, right?

 

 

 

 

LC — I’ve got some Brazilian friends, in Guildford. I think there are about twenty of them.

 

 

 

TB — You’ve got more Brazilian friends than I do, man! Are you proud to be Brazilian?

 

 

 

LC — Yeah. I don’t know why they’re working in Guildford, all these Brazilians.

 

 

 

TB — Well, they’re nice people to hang out with.

 

 

LC — I usually go out, nearly every day, or quite a lot of days, and play music for them in the evening, around six o’clock. I bring my speaker with me and play Brazilian music.

 

 

 

TB — Like what artists?

 

 

 

LC — Gabriel o Pensador. MC Guimê. Lots of other too. These Brazilians work on motorbikes, and they bring food as well.

 

 

 

 

TB — Do they speak Portuguese to you?

 

 

 

LC — Sometimes.

 

 

 

TB — What do you say?

 

 

 

LC — All sorts of things. Tudo bom. What else… Tranquilo.

 

 

 

TB — Yeah man, tranquilo. That means cool, keep it mellow. Are you drawing any of them?

 

 

 

LC — I’m drawing them as well.

 

 

 

TB — I have this one photo here of you dancing, and a lot of people around playing djembe and conga drums. You’re dancing, you don’t have your shirt on, you have tons of bling, you have sunglasses, and you have a crown. Lawrence, this looks awesome.

 

 

 

LC — Yeah, I like that. That’s me dancing in the carnival in Notting Hill Gate, London. Do I look big?

 

 

 

 

TB — Strong, very strong. Do you want to look big?

 

 

 

LC — Yeah.

 

 

 

TB — Is it the muscles? 

 

 

 

 

LC — Yeah.

 

TB — I’ve always known you to be obsessed with certain things, when you were younger you used to go around taking the temperature of the air all the time. What temperature did you prefer?

 

 

LC — I liked hot weather. Hot weather’s good, I like it. People are better, people wear less stuff.

 

 

 

TB — Can you tell me about your nickname?

 

 

 

LC — Nickname is quite good, cool nickname. Big MC Clayton.

 

 

 

TB — So good, man. Have you been DJing?

 

 

 

LC —I’ve got loads of speakers. There was a party going on Saturday, at sort of a market. It was quite good, I brought one of my big speakers with me and started playing music in the street, like a DJ.

 

 

 

TB — People were dancing?

 

 

 

LC — Yeah they were, quite a lot.

 

 

 

TB — That’s great, man. 

 

 

LC — It’s got a microphone that I plug into my speaker.

 

 

 

 

TB — Do you speak into it? What do you say?

 

 

 

 

LC — Just different things. MC Clayton, I say.

 

 

 

 

TB — MC Clayton in the house! LC — Yeah.

 

 

 

TB — Tell me something Lawrence, do you feel that your autism affects your life in a way that only you can explain?

 

 

 

LC — Yeah. Well people are different, aren’t they? Some autistic people are quite good at things, and some autistic people don’t do much at all.

 

 

 

TB — What does it mean to you to make these drawings, and to create? Is it something that you think about, or is it something that you just do?

 

 

 

 

LC — I think about it sometimes, as well.

 

 

 

TB — Does it hinder you? Or does it help your autism?

 

 

 

LC — It helps it a bit. Just like, creating things. Doing things. It’s nice, yeah.

 

 

 

 

TB — What do you think about this interview?

 

 

 

LC — It’s quite good, I like it. I like to have more of an understanding, and I like chatting with you. — END

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