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Clutchy Hopkins

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Who exactly is Clutchy Hopkins? That's the million-dollar question that became a favorite topic on various Internet chat boards when a dozen undeniably funky and up-to-date instrumental beat tracks, each one titled only by its running time, appeared as The Life of Clutchy Hopkins in 2006 from the Misled Children imprint. Hopkins, it appeared, was either a clever media creation or actually an aging revolutionary savant effortlessly in touch with the music of the 21st century. A mystery man dressed up as a stylish enigma, he really seemed too good to be true. The "official" bio for Hopkins seemed preposterous at best, telling the story of the son of a Motown recording engineer who traveled to Japan in his twenties to study with Rinzai monks, then to India to study Raja yoga, and from there Hopkins, so the story goes, journeyed to Nigeria to study percussion, becoming as well a gun-runner and revolutionary. Returning to the U.S., Hopkins reportedly recorded with numerous jazz, funk, and avant combos from the early '70s through the late '90s, always refusing to have his name cited on any of the projects. Tapes of his own music were supposedly uncovered at a swap meet in the Mojave Desert on reels simply marked C. Hopkins and accompanied by a handwritten autobiographical manuscript. Hopkins is now, so the story continues, either a busking beach hobo in Southern California or a recluse living in a cave in the Mojave Desert. All of this was understandably difficult to swallow, and theories about Hopkins' actual identity have ranged from MF Doom to DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, or one of or all of the Beastie Boys moonlighting and pulling the wool over everyone's eyes. The one clear thing is that the music on The Life of Clutchy Hopkins is a marvelously concocted and amazingly fresh and contemporary mesh of funk, hip-hop, jazz, and straight-out weird orchestral psychedelia (Hopkins reportedly played all the instruments, which include drums, bass, guitar, organ, flute, melodica, and assorted percussion, himself) that suggests Mr. Hopkins must have had a pretty good Internet connection in that Mojave cave. The Clutchy Hopkins legend continued when Ubiquity Records released the set Walking Backwards (a CD of music and a DVD of supposed "confessionals" from folks who reportedly knew or met Hopkins) in 2008. Music Is My Medicine, attributed to Hopkins and Lord Kenjamin, appeared in 2009, again from Ubiquity Records. The story continued in 2010 with The Storyteller, which was reported delivered to Ubiquity on a banged-up iPod complete with a spoken word reading of the history of the recording done in ten different languages. ~ Steve Leggett

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