For this episode, we sat down with the legendary songwriter/producer Citizen Cope otherwise known as Clarence Greenwood. The first time I heard Citizen Cope, I was 12 years old and watching the movie Coach Carter. At the time, I didn’t know who Citizen Cope was, but I knew that his song made me feel connected to players in the movie. Now when I listen to his music as a slightly more mature adult, I also feel a deeper sense of connection to myself. His production and lyrics foster a certain sense of introspection paired with observations of everything that’s going on in the world. As Cope explains in an interview with Billboard, “I think everybody feels like there are elements in this world that are not so fuzzy and warm, and we see the harshness in the reality of life. Life is not an easy thing, but we need to look for a commonality of love and empathy that can conquer even the worse situations.”
It’s been about 7 years since Citizen Cope released a full-length project. He just put out his latest album called Heroin and Helicopters and you should probably listen to it. It’s really fucking good. The title of the album derives from a conversation that Cope had with Carlos Santana at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Santana told him to stay away from the two H’s - Heroin and Helicopters. Music artists haven’t had good track records from either of those. And it makes for a hell of an album title. In this conversation, Cope and I talk about the connection between poetry and songwriting, Cope scalping tickets as a teenager in DC learning street economics, eating steaks with Matthew McConaughey, and dealing with stage fright. Even if you aren’t interested in songwriting and production, or maybe you’re not a fan of Citizen Cope, I encourage you to listen to the entirety of the conversation. We talk about a lot of things common to the human experience and things that anyone can apply to a struggle that they’re going through. And you’ll probably turn into a Cope fan by the end. Without further ado, here is our deep and extensive conversation with Citizen Cope.