San Diego native and hip hop artist, Clister, released his sophomore album earlier this year. With the weight of the world on his shoulders Clister shines a glimmer of hope even in the grimmest of situations. Just five years ago he lost the centerpiece of his family, his mother Valkyrie Griffin, and became surrogate father to his two younger sisters. Clister, broken and confused, had to be the strong one to help his two little sisters mourn the loss of their mommy. Not only did Clister get thrust into fatherhood, he was thrust into the center of his Christianity, forced to wrestle with some really big questions about death, life and finding hope in both.
All of the above are put on display immediately in the album’s title track Beauty in Pain, featuring Sacramento rapper Sevin and Patrice Baker. Some say that first impressions are crucial and Clister must have taken that to heart; Beauty in Pain has a grandiose sound, befitting an anthem the likes of Jay-Z or Kanye West would adorn with their lyrics. The good fellas at SoundCollage Muzik provide the beat (as well as most of the production on the album, as well as some vocals) for Beauty in Pain, which is a powerful piece of music. Clister sets the theme of the album with two equally big verses, combining his struggle to become a man under dire circumstances, as well as his struggle to understand how God, church and tragedy coexist.
Clister then threads another theme that runs throughout the album in the second track, Game. As Clister is wrestling with himself as a father and a Christian, he simultaneously puts on display his struggles in and with relationships. This topic is dealt with seriously in Game and Hello and humorously in No, No, No. All three tracks cleverly approach a topic that is often addressed in stale and bland ways; the three will make you root for the underdog, laugh at our silliness in the arena of love and admire the principles Clister strives to live by in relationship to women.
The rest of the tracks allow the listener to watch Clister flesh out his faith, which is beautiful, ugly, smoothed out, rough and bumpy and, most of all, sincere and heart felt. The two stand out tracks are Understand and Letting Go. Understand is explicitly spelling out Clister’s frustration with pain and strife in this life, even in the life of one who loves and professes Jesus as Savior. We get a look into the mind of the man who is strong and trusts in God and the man who struggles with God’s goodness in the face of adversity. In the end, Clister leaves the listener with hope. Letting Go is an intimate love letter to his two younger sisters. The track is Clister’s way of telling the two young women that he is proud of who they have become, and his apology for being an imperfect parent, a sentiment that I imagine every parent feels at one point or another.
Clister proves that faith and hard work are a recipe for growth and, if he continues on this path, we should all expect to see him doing big things in the years to come. If you would like to experience Clister’s music for yourself, please click the link below.
Peace and Love.