Benjamin Clementine slipped through most of the American public’s fingers in 2015. He did not however, slip through European fingers, as he ended up winning the 2015 Mercury Prize. For those who are unaware, the Mercury Prize is an award given out annually for the best album in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with multiple very recognizable recent winners such as James Blake, Alt-J, The XX, Arctic Monkeys, and Franz Ferdinand. This guy is no joke, and with only one full length album released thus far, his potential is incredible.
Clementine’s backstory to his recent success is nothing short of inspiring. He was bullied in grade school and misbehaved in rather unorthodox ways as a result. He would skip multiple days of school and go to the library to read the Bible and poetry, seeking out rarely used archaic words to incorporate into his vocabulary (which is obviously extensive just in reference to this song). At the age of 16 he failed every class except English Literature, dropped out of school, subsequently had a dispute with his family and ended up living on the streets, eventually moving to Paris throughout his remaining teenage years. While playing nightly live performances in bars and hotels, Clementine essentially lived as a vagabond, moving from hostel to hostel and working wherever he could. He would spend his nights performing and his days writing and composing, becoming a pseudo cult figure in the Parisian music scene. Through a series of random events over the next several years, he was discovered by his agent and manager and finally signed a joint music license between Captiol, Virgin EMI, and Barclay. I highly suggest looking up his entire life story, as this compressed version honestly does not do Clementine justice for what he’s gone through to get to the point of prestige he’s reached today.