Allow us to introduce you to the guy Entertainment Weekly was referring to when the magazine wrote, “Every generation has its chosen one and right now, this is Clark’s time.” His name is Gary Clark Jr. You’ll soon understand why he’s November’s You Oughta Know artist. Labeling him as a soul mixed with jazz mixed with blues artist is the obvious choice. Truth is, the 28-year-old guitarist and singer reaches across the aisle touching the crevices of rock, country, R&B and hip-hop. The chill soul crooner grew up in Austin, TX where he first fondled with a guitar at the age of 12. He honed his craft, gaining local attention by playing in small pubs in his hometown. His journey has brought him far from the handful of fans he once played for. Blak and Blu, his first major label project with Warner Bros. debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 charts. And its all an upward climb from there. You oughta know Gary Clark Jr. for several reasons, but let’s start with five.
1. Already compared to the greatest
Jimi Hendrix is the greatest guitarist of all time. Not just any artist can be mentioned in the same breath as him. Yet, Gary Clark Jr. has already been compared to the legend. His performance at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival blew us away with his ease, the comfort, the mastery over his cherry red Epiphone Casino guitar (which he named Cassie, by the way). He makes playing the guitar look as natural as breathing. Living up to the G.O.A.T. guitarist’s comparisons is certainly a daunting task. Something tells us GCJ has it in the bag.
2. Come on homie we major…as in ESPN major
It’s not every day ESPN calls to ask if they can feature an artist’s music for its three-day NFL draft telecast. GCJ along with one of hip-hop’s greatest emcees, Nas, received those calls. In April GCJ’s “Bright Lights,” with an added verse from Nas, was one of the upbeat bluesy tracks played during the channel’s commercial break package. “Bright lights, big city going to my head” was the perfect backdrop for a football themed commercial.
3. Paint the White House Blak and Blu
The ultimate swerve of the year is when you can (truthfully) say, “I’ve played for the President and First Lady, yo!” GCJ probably didn’t use those exact words, but he definitely performed at the White House for the Red, White and Blues event for Mr. and Mrs. Obama. Alongside legends like B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Jeff Beck he fit right in. His email signature should include: “I played at the White House. ‘Nough said.”
4. He “Ain’t Messin ‘Round” with showing you how to do this, son
GCJ told us he did “Ain’t Messin ‘Round” because no one would expect a fast, uptempo song from a blues artist. The country-rock mix is a testament to his versatility as an artist. It’s light, it’s fun. Directed by Noble Jones, the video has the same party-like-a-rockstar/soul-singer vibe. Not to mention his sexy cherry red guitar makes a cameo. The lead single sounds like something the popular doo-wop groups of the ’50s and ’60s would make, only with a modern twist. It glides through your eardrums as your body dances on cue. Just stop messin’ ’round and let loose to this song. You know you want to.
5. Never too big to be checked by mama
How does GCJ stay grounded with all the buzz surrounding him as this burgeoning artist? “My mom still calls me and keeps me in check,” he tells us in an interview (more from that soon). He’ll never be so huge of a star that his mom won’t give him a reality check that brings him back down to earth. “And then if she feels I’m tripping she’ll tell me that she’ll call my grandma.” The power of a “tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear” mom and grandma will keep this talented musician humble.
Stay tuned for more exclusive interviews and live performances from our newest YOK artist. Welcome to the family, Gary!
[Photo: Getty Images]