HoMA is spotlighting the work of artists in our community during these unprecedented times. The Doris Duke Theatre team asked O’ahu-born hip hop artist, accomplished surfer, screen printer, & entrepreneur Cedric Clinton to share more about his work and what has been inspiring his creativity lately.
Cedric, what’s inspiring you right now as an artist?
1) Seeing People Do What They Love + Picking Up Old/New Hobbies: During this period of time where most people are staying home due to losing their jobs or not being able to work like they usually do, I’ve noticed a shift in what a lot of people are spending their time on. I’ve been noticing people spending more time doing things that they really love & enjoy and/or trying things they’ve never done before. A lot of passion projects, hobbies, or ideas that have been put on hold due to “being too busy” or “not having enough time” are now finally getting the attention they deserve. This is inspiring to me for a handful of reasons. Seeing people do what they love inspires others to do what they love & a world filled with people who are charged up by living a life doing things they love leads to a better planet to live on in my opinion.
I believe we all have a gift that we were born with, however a lot of us get caught up in societal norms & expectations which prevents us from pursuing things we actually love & enjoy doing which leaves a lot of us unhappy & unfulfilled. It’s normally the things that come easily & naturally to us, so we tend to overlook and/or discount them. When I was younger I brushed off my natural abilities to MC & write lyrics, however I kept experiencing this inner calling to make music. Once I finally decided to give it my all, the magic started to happen. So many doors were opened, amazing opportunities presented themselves, & a lot of lifelong connections were made because I followed my heart. This is the perfect time for anyone to make a shift in their life if they ever wanted to & that is super inspiring because I am experiencing it myself. I have recently dedicated more time to creating & releasing more music, I have rekindled my love for surfing, & I have just started to learn about gardening & farming, so I look forward to this momentum continuing to grow.
2) Nature/Gardening/Farming – Growing up in Hawaii I’ve always had a love & strong connection to our ‘āina/mother nature, so that’s always inspired me in so many ways. Nature is constantly teaching us how to live & grow, if you just take the time to open up your eyes, ears, mind & heart. There are lessons to be learned everywhere from mauka to makai. Most recently, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity, resources, & inspiration to start a garden & grow my own vegetables & herbs. Hawaii used to be fully self-sustainable with concepts like the ahupua’a system & never relied on outside sources to survive, so it blows my mind that we’ve become so dependent on importing food. Most of the food you buy in the grocery store these days doesn’t even come from Hawai’i which I feel is ridiculous because we have some of the best land & growing conditions on the planet. As my consciousness expands & I learn more about the impacts of importing food to the islands, I am being inspired to start learning more about farming & growing my own food. There’s no better feeling than eating a fruit or vegetable that you’ve grown yourself! After visiting a few farms recently, I have a whole new found respect for farmers & the skill it takes to grow food. That has been really eye opening & inspiring. Now I realize that not everyone may be able to grow everything they need, however you’d be surprised at how much you can do if you just do a little research, be resourceful & creative. If you are unable to grow food for whatever reason, at least consider supporting a local farmer that can. Now more than ever is it super important for all of us to support local as much as we can, so we can contribute to our local economy & support our communities.
3) Surfing – I’ve surfed pretty much my whole life starting all the way back in elementary school, I’m 30 now. When I first started, I just surfed because it was so much fun! I loved being in the ocean, soaking up the sun, & the feeling you get after catching a wave is one of the best feelings the world. In my teens I did my 1st surf contest which led to me competing heavily for about 5 years straight. Towards the end of my competitive career, I just lost the interest in competing. Shortly after that, running my business & creating music became higher priorities over surfing. I went from surfing pretty much everyday to rarely surfing at all. Recently a friend of mine has been pushing me to wake up early & go surfing. That has been super inspiring. After the 1st few sessions getting back into it, I started to remember why I love surfing so much. It’s so inspiring because surfing is such an amazing form of exercise. Not only is it a workout, there are also a handful of benefits you gain from being in the sun & in salt water. I am also discovering surfing to be a sort of meditation for me. When I am out in the ocean, I am not thinking about much besides paddling back out to catch another wave & that is super relaxing. I tend to forget about all of the stress, worries, work I have to take care of & my endless “to-do list” when I am out in the ocean. After being out in the salt water, catching a bunch of waves, & soaking up some sun rays, I end up paddling in with a buzz & a big smile. That leaves me inspired to conquer whatever I have to do for the rest of the day. Surfing has inspired me to slow down & take more time to do things I really love & enjoy.
More about Cedric:
Cedric is the founder of lifestyle brand Chi Funk, Co-Founder Of Bounce Back Hip Hop & the owner of Squeeze Play, an O’ahu-based screenprinting & and graphic design company. At ten years old, he performed for the first time auditioning for the Thomas Jefferson elementary school talent show. From that moment on, hip hop became a big part of his life. Within the next few years, he started freestyling and crafting his own songs. In 2009, at 19 years old, he acquired Squeeze Play from the previous owner and has been running it successfully ever since. In 2017, he released his Na Hoku-nominated album ArtChiTexture. Later that year, he was also invited to be a core facilitator for Soundshop which is a hip hop-based workshop for middle and high school students, a collaboration between the Super Groupers and the Honolulu Museum of Art. In 2018, Cedric co-founded Bounce Back Hip Hop which hosts a weekly mini hip hop concert series (Bounce Back Mondays) in Honolulu’s Chinatown. When Cedric isn’t in the print shop, in the studio, or on a stage, you might be able to find him in the ocean, connecting to the ‘āina, or contributing to projects that uplift our local and global community.