"Ours was a friendship forged once in this life and again in the next."
Today many people will be stuffing their faces, celebrating with family and engaging in other festivities like lazily watching football games. We'll be doing these things as well, but with a decidedly somber heart.
Earlier this month, AllHipHop lost one in Clayton Perry, one of the finest writers to ever contribute to AllHipHop.com.
I met Clayton several years ago through a mutual friend, Ed Garnes. Ed and I had known each other through the public speaking circuit and he came to me excited over a possible writer for AllHipHop. The person was skillful - a cut above the normal, young writer that we've encountered. This young man, at the time in his early 20's was professional, motivated, ambitious and, most of all, unique. This man was Clayton Perry.
Much of Clayton's work appeared in AllHipHop's alternative area, where he was allowed to roam free and flourish. Our managing editor Seandra Sims and I realized early on that we had something special in Clayton. He was relentless. He was one of the few writers that didn't need managing or motivating. He was full of life and it showed in his work ethic. His stories read like all of the great writers of the 90's - very academically. He was a scholar that framed and contextualized his subject matter. Clayton thoroughly researched the people he spoke to, challenging them as much as they challenged him.
He'd crank out story after story after story and kept count of them all - over 200 in a matter of a couple years. And we're not talking any-old-body. We're talking Clive Davis, Kenneth Gamble, John Legend, B.O.B., Janelle Monae, Bobby Brown, Chuck D, Common, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Adele and so many more. (In fact, here's an alphabetical listing of his interviews.)
There were other instances when Clayton would even check us on editing mistakes that appeared in his pieces. In hindsight, he was a man on a mission. There were times when Seandra and I would talk about Clayton, mystified and marveled at the same time. In one email, she said, "That's Clayton...marching to the beat of his own drum" after he suddenly and randomly submitted a lengthy piece on soul singer Allen Stone earlier this year.
To this day, we don't know the circumstances around Clayton's death, but that doesn't much matter. What matters is that he's left behind a proverbial library of his life's work on ClaytonPerry.com. He was only 29, but I know people twice his age that haven't accomplished as much. He was an educator that held a degree in Sociology and another in Creative writing. To put in plainly, Clayton was a remarkable talent.
On Facebook and Twitter, Clayton's last words were "In the end, all you need is love." He was loved. Clayton will certainly be missed by his family and friends, but also by those of us what were touched by his talents, professionalism and supremely pleasant demeanor. So, on this day of giving Thanks, we give thanks that God blessed us with knowing Mr. Clayton Perry.
Rest In Power, Clayton.
And job well done.