Local rapper Matt Cloonan stands next to the “Welcome to Farmington” sign on Farmington City Hall’s grounds.

Local rapper Matt Cloonan stands next to the “Welcome to Farmington” sign on Farmington City Hall’s grounds.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

‘King of Farmington’ clears the air: He’s king of both cities

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published August 11, 2020


FARMINGTON/HILLS — When Farmington Hills resident and local rapper Matt Cloonan, known by his rap moniker Clooner, uploaded the music video for his single “King of Farmington” July 20, he wasn’t expecting to be propelled into the spotlight as much as he has been.

“I expected my last song to blow up, because I actually put money into that for promotion,” Cloonan said of his previous releases. “I didn’t put money into this. … All my previous songs, I’ve tried to make go viral. None of them went viral. I thought this song could go viral to an extent. I didn’t think it would get this big.”

“King of Farmington” instantly took the internet by storm, trending on Twitter and garnering the attention of city officials, including Mayor Vicki Barnett. His song received high praise from notable Detroit rappers Royce da 5’9”, Danny Brown and others, as well as rapper Freddie Gibbs, of Gary, Indiana. Cloonan’s song had 67,220 Youtube views as of Aug. 3, the highest grossing of his approximately 30 videos online.

Cloonan, 25, graduated from Farmington High School and has been a resident since age 7.  He started creating music in high school, but he began taking it seriously in 2015 and was performing at house shows in Detroit a year later.

As “King of Farmington” increasingly caught the attention of individuals online, one question clearly needed to be answered — was he the king of Farmington or Farmington Hills?

Cloonan’s video depicts him in front of a Farmington Hills sign at the corner of Inkster and Eight Mile roads, but it also features him rapping in front of Farmington locations like Silver Dairy and Chicken King. Cloonan landed on the title “King of Farmington” because “Farmington Hills was too clunky as a full title.”

“I think people outside of this area don’t realize Farmington is an actual city in between. … Farmington is Farmington Hills’ downtown. It might be a separate city, but if I say, ‘Hey, let’s meet downtown,’ people know what I mean,” Cloonan said, adding that the two communities are connected in his mind.

Still, Cloonan thinks city officials on both sides seem to be jokingly vying for him to crown himself king of one city over the other. Farmington City Council member David Delind took a photo outside the “Welcome to Farmington” sign with Cloonan, who is seen wearing a Burger King crown. Cloonan said Farmington Hills City Council members have been talking about a coronation ceremony.

“It was enjoyable to meet with him as an artist and hear about his views and experiences in Farmington-Farmington Hills. He’s a very nice, affable guy,” Delind said. “He was willing to come out, meet with me and take a silly photo out in front of the Farmington sign so we could verify he was the king of Farmington.

“I think a tagline and a hook that shows love for the city is one of the best things going on out there,” he added.

The motivation to create “King of Farmington” came easily to Cloonan. Instead of being the 50th or 100th greatest rapper in Detroit, why not be the greatest in the city you’re from, he explained. He wanted to provide others with a blueprint to follow.

“I’ve seen a lot of people kind of put down their suburban city, because they’re aiming for a Detroit audience. Claim your city,” he said. “I just wanted to claim (mine). I joked about how I wanted to put the city on the map, and then of course, I ended up putting the city on the map a little bit.”

Former Farmington resident — now living in Atlanta — and “King of Farmington” producer Luke Torvinen, known as Luke Superior, said Cloonan has brought some excitement back to the city by way of his music.

The song’s growing popularity has helped Torvinen gain exposure as a producer, as well, but really the spotlight is on Cloonan, who has received an outpouring of messages asking to collaborate or soliciting for record deals, though many have been scams.

“I think him going locally viral with this was kind of what he’s been wanting and planning to do,” Torvinen said. “I am proud to see my friend finally get some attention and notoriety.”

This won’t be the last time hearing from Cloonan, either, who said he’s sitting on a lot of music that just needs music videos. Cloonan also messaged Jena Irene, a North Farmington High School graduate who was featured on season 13 of “American Idol,” in hopes of striking up a collaboration and a remix of “King of Farmington” featuring the local singer.

“My dream collaboration is Celine Dion or Britney Spears,” Cloonan said. “I would definitely like to work with more pop artists.”

Listen to “King of Farmington” on Youtube. Warning: the video contains explicit lyrics.