By Catherine Kitts
The Orléans born and raised rapper, Clayton "CB" Hawkins, better known as, Spitten Image, is determined to change people's perception of the hip hop scene in Ottawa.
Orléans rapper "Spitten Image" performs infront of an enthusiastic crowd at Ritual Nightclub. (Photo: Catherine Kitts)
He joined fellow Ottawa talent, Philly Moves and Flight Distance, Sunday night at a performance at Ritual nightclub for a loud, enthusiastic and well received performance. The headlining act, Action Bronson, was an emcee from New York.
"Definitely Toronto and Montreal are the Mecca of hip hop in Canada, so with me coming out of Ottawa I really want to show a spotlight onto our city and get it to a new level," said Hawkins.
He notes that without Canadian singer Classified, who he considers one of his biggest inspirations, the Maritimes would have never been considered an avenue for hip hop in Canada. Spitten Image hopes to bring that kind of change to Ottawa as well.
"I think we're underestimated here. I definitely think there's some heavy rappers and talent in this city."
A passion that began at the age of 18 years-old Spitten Image started out rapping "just for the fun of it". But, after discovering his real talent and hooking up with local producer, DJ Selecta Galis, he realized it was more than just a hobby, it was a passion.
Originally, Spitten Image was part of a duo group called "Live Feed" with fellow Orléans resident, and high school best friend, Jamie Lamothe, also known as "Tranquil Flow". "We were just at different points in our life so I decided to keep going on my own," said Hawkins. "My love of music just made me want to take it a little farther." Lamothe was on hand to help Spitten Image out with his show on Sunday and got the crowd pumped up for Spitten Image's arrival on stage.
His first solo mix-tape, Microphone Phenomenal, features hard hitting and energetic songs like "This is Hip Hop" which he opened Sunday's show with, getting the crowd to their feet and moving with his rhymes.
Recently, he released his first music video for "Steppin It Up" which shows the Ottawa boy on city streets, in front of Parliament Hill and even sitting on the front of an OC Transpo bus.
"I'm definitely trying to perfect my skills. It's all about the music you make, I've definitely put extra time into writing better songs," said Hawkins, who said the recent loss of a family member has helped him put emotion into his music.
Hawkins says social media has been a huge help on his mission to get his music out there. Through Facebook, Twitter and his profile on www.reverbnation.com/spittenimage Hawkins has begun making a name for himself in the local scene.
Despite Hawkins' tireless efforts he humbly admits he cannot take all the credit, pointing to fellow St. Matthew High School graduate and manager, Max Grootenboer, for all of his hard work. "We've been working like animals," he laughs.
Spitten Image explains that the path to his career is made easier by a incredibly supportive group of friends and family that are proud he's persuing what he loves.
As Spitten Image moves forward with his career, getting set to launch his new mix-tape "Open Mic Night" and planning more performances in the New Year, he says he'll be happy as long as he can keep performing and keep getting his music out there. "You feed off the crowd's energy you feed off yourself. It's really hard to describe, I wouldn't trade it for the world."