Soulection Standout Chris McClenney Shares 5 Songs That Shaped His ‘Portrait In Two’ EP

Creative Direction: Mafalda Millies, Photography: Eliza Soros, Styling: Sofia Costima

Behind every great artist is a unique coalescence of various inspirations that inspired his or her creative work. Thus, when we were presented with Chris McClenney's Portrait In Two EP, we felt implored to dissect it down to the core influences which led to such a compelling fusion of passionately soulful songwriting and funky R&B production. 

Released on January 13, Portrait In Two was written, recorded, and produced entirely by McClenney, all while he was attending graduate school at NYU. The young Soulection singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist shows much promise as he moves swiftly between jazz, R&B, soul, hip hop, funk, and so much more. 

Listen to the full Portrait In Two EP at least once through, then take an even deeper dive with McClenney's personal commentary on the five songs that shaped it below. 

Michael Jackson - "Rock With You"

"A classic tune. Was seeking that true post-disco organic sound for 'Glide,' and 'Rock With You' was an inspiration for it."

Funkadelic - "Knee Deep"

"One of the funkiest songs of all time. Straight up."

Rihanna - "Work"

"The first time I heard this groove, it inspired me to create pop music in a different way than I had considered prior. The minimal production captivated me."

Kendrick Lamar - "Swimming Pools"

"What inspires me about 'Swimming Pools' is the juxtaposition of a heavy topic on a Top 40 rap beat. The anti-drinking message is deep and some people miss it because Kendrick is saying "drank" throughout the song. That's not a coincidence, his writing is genius."

D'Angelo - "Spanish Joint (Acoustic Demo)"

"This isn't even the full version of ‘Spanish Joint,' but it undoubtedly changed my approach to making music when I first heard it. The fact that he simplified his entire tune's arrangement to just keyboard and voice blew my mind and inspired me. This is what I strived for with almost every tune on Portrait in Two."