A Trouble Clef Timeline (from the liner notes to Tomicide: The Complete Trouble Clef, 1997-2007):
October 1996: First known composition: inspired by “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Amish Paradise,” and in response to a school assignment, Tomemos composes and performs “Glucuose Paradise,” which parodies Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” while teaching listeners about cellular respiration. Performed in Mr. Spohn’s Berkeley High biology class; accompaniment provided by a cassette with the instrumental track of “Gangsta’s Paradise.”
Summer 1997: While riding BART, Tomemos decides on a rap name: “Trouble Clef.”
Fall 1998: Friend suggests an opening line to a Tomemos rap song: “My name’s Tommy H, and I don’t mean Hilfiger.” Trouble later completes the couplet with the line “I gotta be a rapper, ’cause I ain’t no singer.” Also during this period, Trouble settles on the album name Tomicide.
June 1999: Writes and performs a rap for the staff of the Berkeley High school newspaper, the Jacket, to commemorate the end of the school year and the graduation of the senior editorial staff. First performance under the Trouble Clef moniker, given in the second couplet of the song: “My clothes are wack, but my flows are def/And ’round Berkeley High, they call me ‘Trouble Clef.'”
August 1999: Writes and performs a rap to commemorate the end of a guided rafting trip on the Rogue River in Oregon. (Due to the lack of writing materials, the rap is committed to memory and later transcribed.)
November 1999: Writes and performs a rap as a birthday present for a friend. “‘Round Berkeley High” becomes “‘Round SLC.” The song is well-received, and Trouble performs birthday raps for two more friends in the following January and February.
Summer 2000: Begins writing what will later become “Elmer Season.” Drafts are unavailable, but lines that probably appear during this period are “I’m the bomb, like President Truman,” “I throw down comedy like Benjamin Stiller,” and “I’ll fuck Miss Scarlet, bust a cap in Mister Boddy.”
Spring 2001: As part of a required seminar for Sarah Lawrence club leaders, writes a rap touting The Bubble, Sarah Lawrence’s satirical newspaper. This constitutes the second half of Trouble’s “student journalism” cycle.
Fall 2001: In England for a study abroad program, begins performing an early version of “Elmer Season” to entertain American classmates.
March 2002: Writes a parody of Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” which apologizes to the subject for not sending a present in time for her birthday; performs it as an answering machine message in early April. The song contains at least one rhyme that will appear, in modified form, in the final version of “Elmer Season.”
Fall 2003: Performs final version of “Elmer Season” for fellow UC Irvine grad students. “‘Round SLC” becomes “‘Round UCI.”
January 2004: Receives an offer from Patrick Keller, who would later found Dutch Missionary Records, to record “Elmer Season.” Trouble expresses interest, but takes no action.
December 2006: Records “Elmer Season” as a contribution to Dutch Missionary Records’ ILL Literates compilation.
March 2007: Final version of “Elmer Season” released:
Trouble Clef, “Elmer Season”, © 2007, Dutch Missionary Records
Produced by The Beat Conflicts
Backing vocals by The Beat Conflicts and Praxis
Thanks to The Beat Conflicts for getting me onto wax, and to TBC and Praxis for their help making this song ready for the studio. Thanks to Title Fight for inspiring me in 1999. And a big Thanks to everyone who’s listened to this song over the last six years. —TC