By Matthew Martin/Staff Correspondent
Music’s next big star recently sat outside a Gadsden restaurant with his girlfriend and his producer. A recording device sat in the middle of their table – the only thing that made the future star different from the establishment’s other patrons.
Marked with tattoos and facial piercings, the unassuming future star of hip-hop slowly soon was besieged with handshakes, smiles and laughs.
As he treated every one of those well-wishers like a close friend, it became apparent this star was no different than you or me, which is just the way Josh Huie wants it.
Going by the stage name Clever, Huie has slowly built a large following through shows, social media and online music video websites.
“It’s everything I can do to take it to another level,” Huie said. “I believe in my heart that I’m the best and nobody can convince me otherwise. The sky is the limit, if the sky is even high enough. When I’m dead and gone and my time has passed, the world will remember the name ‘Clever.’ I’m going to make sure of it.”
Clever will perform Saturday at the local nightclub The Hideout.
Long before his music career started taking off, Huie was just a regular kid with a not-so-regular talent. He discovered that talent as a middle-schooler at General Forrest, starting out just writing poetry as a 12-year-old.
“I always loved music, I always loved to sing,” Huie said. “It’s been a part of my family (my whole life). I started writing poetry, then I started writing hip-hop music.”
As he grew older, Huie became more and more confident in his abilities. He grew as a writer and performer while a student at Emma Sansom High School.
“I went to Sansom with a lot of people who were rapping at that time,” Huie said. “I would see a rapper who had his own CD and I’d be like, ‘This dude is on top of his game.’ I’d make cassette tapes with a karaoke machine and I’d pass them out.”
After graduating, Huie traveled to New York City for a chance to perform on television.
Huie was a hit on the BET television show “106th and Park,” which eventually led to him performing on another BET show, “Spring Bling.” Huie won the competition on that show, leading to many more fans on his various online ventures.
Huie has become very popular online, using websites, like reverbnation.com. Through the many websites, Huie has gained an international following that has led to his latest release, the self-titled “Clever.” The album was produced by WKXX disc jockey J.J. Stevens on Stevens’ and Huie’s independent record label, Jamz Productionz
Since the July 4 release date, the album has sold well, with individual songs and the entire album selling in the thousands. It can be purchased online at outlets like iTunes and Amazon.
Stevens has helped Clever get to the verge of breaking into stardom with several recording deals along the way. Each one of those deals were not right, at the time, as Huie and Stevens preferred to remain independent and produced the music and videos themselves.
“I always dreamed of doing it the old-fashioned way and hitting the road, doing a nationwide tour, just living off of dreams and Spaghetti O’s,” Huie said.
Clever’s success has allowed Jamz Productionz to build recording studio and purchase video equipment, which has led to the outfit producing music and videos for several other artists.
All this success has opened doors. Huie had performed for many big stars, opening up shows for Ludacris, Young Jeezy, Mannie Fresh, The Ying Yang Twins and Pastor Troy, to name a few.
There are several movers and shakers within the music industry that have shown interest in Clever, which could lead to the big break he seeks.
“There have been opportunities and we have taken advantage of them,” Huie said. “I’ve been offered a lot of deals, but it was nothing that we are looking for. (Why sign a contract) when you feel like you can do it all yourself? Why let somebody just play around, when you can’t really depend on anyone who is not family?”
Clever recently played three shows at the Birmingham nightclub Aqua Lounge before crowds approaching 1,000. It’s performances like the one in the Magic City that have helped build the grassroots following for Clever, with his punk rock attitude and a D.I.Y. spirit.
With a stage presence best described as electric, Clever mesmerizes fans with a contagious energy that feeds the entire experience. He takes that experience and puts it on disc with his new self-titled album.
“I want to be a revolutionary-type artist, like a John Lennon type, just to sum it up in one sentence,” Huie said.
“My music is very diverse, as far as singing and rapping and composing at the same time. Even stretching out into rock, with the acoustic songs we do.”
For more information or for tickets to Saturday’s show, contact J.J. Stevens at (256) 646-0535.