In 2013, the world wide web met Toronto-born and Berlin-based artist Sway Clarke through his SoundCloud track, “I Don’t Need Much,” which catapulted Clarke from obscurity to “R&B’s next internet stud.” Following a sudden rise to notoriety, Clarke signed a massive record deal, one he told Pigeons and Planes was “a bigger record deal than I should have [signed] with some people I shouldn’t have.”
Following the release of his widely successful second single, “Secret Garden,” in 2014, Clarke seemed to have fallen off the map due to a dry spell of new releases which persisted until 2016. Though publicly silent, Clarke was far from idle during this time, co-writing tunes with the likes of John Legend and completing his debut album which remains unreleased due to label issues. Under his original label, he released his debut EP, Bad Love and ‘90s cover album QUIET. IT’S MY ‘90S MIXTAPE in 2016, vowing to cut ties with labels and release music independently henceforth.
Fast forward to 2018 and Clarke has blessed us with three independent singles, all off the beaten path and dripping with a profound sense of self. This brings us to Clarke’s introspective new release, “Sad Kanye,” dropping on July 12 accompanied by an equally thought-provoking music video.
In recent years, Kanye West has become the poster-child for mental illness by publicly recognizing his struggle with bipolar disorder. Hence, Clarke draws upon the metaphor of the “depressive Kanye” swing of the pendulum to represent his struggles with depression and anxiety. The melody is a skip and a hop away from an easily accessible pop tune and is more experimental in nature. Appropriate to the subject matter, the tune feels a bit unstable with consistently shifting rhythms, grooves, and melody lines. The music video mirrors these uncomfortable feels, co-created by and starring Clarke sporting a massive iPad head with a melancholy image of the song’s namesake. As the video progresses, iPad head Kanye-Clarke moves through life void of emotion through the guise of technology. Though focusing on his personal experience with depression, the “Sad Kanye” music video seems to also comment on the dangers of technology. References to Tinder, selfie-taking “outdoor ass bitches,” and Clarke’s malfunctioning iPad head, suggests that Clarke could be making a statement on how technology often induces or contributes to depression and anxiety.
Clarke explained to us how “Sad Kanye” has offered him a sort of humorous catharsis:
“‘Sad Kanye’ is a song about dealing with depression, something I’ve been struggling low key with my whole life. I was finally ready to admit it to my family and friends, but I guess I need a funny way to curb it.”
Check out the intriguing video for “Sad Kanye” below!