Every few Saturdays, Ziggy's in downtown Ypsilanti hosts 734 Saturdays, an event that showcases local artists. This time, taking the stage at 10 p.m. on Nov. 11 was Eastern Michigan University student ClaDonta Hall, better known by his stage name, Clay the Don. Performing on his 21st birthday, Clay has been making music since the age of 14. However, this night also highlights a special point in his music career.
“I consider that my first performance for real. The first one I ever did was in a backyard, so this was definitely a good feeling to kind of get the jitters out the way. I was nervous, it was a lot of emotions going through my head at once,” Clay said.
Sporting a bright red Calvin Klein coat and a black American Eagle hat, Clay performed multiple tracks. Each song comes from a different genre switching from smooth r&b to upbeat Jersey club music, to even Flint rap.
“I didn’t know what the crowd was going to be. And I also recognize that this is going to be a lot of people’s first time hearing me. So I wanted to show I got something for everybody,” Clay said. “I was trying to give something to everybody for them to take with them. Like somebody can find something that they like in me… So that was the goal to just be as versatile as possible.”
This versatility and ability to connect with a wide range of people is one of the many things that Clay believes makes him stand out. Hailing from Flint, Clay says he hopes to show people that despite the lack of opportunities and resources they can achieve their goals. However, he does not want people to think less of Flint and its growing community of artists.
“Flint and its artists are some of the most turnt up teed people. We have a lot of good artists right now, including artists I know personally,” said Clay. “I’m just trying to bump shoulders. I know some of the biggest producers and a lot of the biggest artists. I’m just trying to earn my keep and earn my way up to be in that status and breakthrough. I think I can bring something new to the table with the r&b songs and the pop songs I'm doing. I think I can bring a new perspective of what Flint got going on.”
This energy and excitement he had for his city could be seen on stage as he performed tracks for his upcoming project “Prettyboy: Season 2.” He considers this album to be his highest quality project to date even compared to his last album, “The Heart of Vehicle City,” which he described earlier on Eagletainment episode three as his “best body of music.”
Clay has also found solace in a community outside of Flint and that is the collection of other creatives at EMU.
“It’s very empowering having other artists because I feel it's a difficult thing to remove your ego when other artists are involved. Everybody's competitors underneath, but when you really start to embrace each other, that's when everybody's uplifting each other. I had Questone up there supporting me and that's my guy and we just connected straight off of musc. I think that the community of aritsts and people that have an ideal goal we just help each other and that's a beautiful thing because thers a lot of talented people and we all have something unique that we bring to the table and I think we are stronger than separate,” Clay said.