Where there's smoke, there's fire—and that adage most definitely rings true for Haviah Mighty's latest heater. The Brampton, Ontario-bred emcee just dropped the music video for "Smoke," featuring Toronto's Clairmont The Second, off her Polaris Prize-winning 2019 album 13th Floor. Complex Canada hit the set of the video shoot, directed by Jon Reira, to give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how it all came together.
"'Smoke' is a song about coming from a self-perseverance space and focusing on all the things you have to mentally overcome [in order to] channel your triumph," says Haviah. "There's so much negativity around us, like, 'Oh, you want the smoke?' And the song's hook rebukes and rejects that concept, focusing on the positive. Like, it's your life. Just live it."
Check out the video for "Smoke" below.
The minimalist, black-and-white clip features Haviah and Clairmont turning up and trading bars in a room full of smoke (get it?), amid dancers, gamblers, and occasional pops of colour.
"I knew I eventually wanted to talk about smoke, and people not wanting the smoke," laughs Clairmont when describing his part. "And then I wrote the verse from the perspective of, 'This is what's happened to me, this is what I've seen, this is why I'm like this, and this is why you don't want the smoke.'"
Though they've stanned each other's music for a while, the studio session for the song was the first time both artists ever met. Haviah was very selective about features on 13th Floor—there are three in total—but knew Clairmont would be perfect for the track, which is something of an underdog rallying call, as soon as she penned it.
"I think both me and Clairmont resonate with that underdog perspective, just from the style that we embody in our music and our nature," says Haviah. "We're both very focused on our artistic nature more than anything gimmicky, or our outfits, you know? We're like, 'What is the message first?'" In the music industry in 2020, you can feel like an underdog because of the competition and what they're participating in. It's more difficult to really draw an audience the way we're navigating it."
Clairmont concurs. "I talk about being an underdog all the time," says the Juno-nominated yet fairly under-the-radar rapper. "That's probably why I'm so angry sometimes."
Well, okay, he partly concurs. "I don't know if Haviah can really talk about being an underdog anymore, man. She's eating right now. Just killing it. It's really cool to see."