ALBANY -- Michael Duren's long, strange trip just keeps getting longer ... and stranger.
A music fanatic with a theatrical bent, Duren -- best known by his rap persona Cloroks and his nom de rock star Eddie Van Pale'n -- is like a basketball gym rat when it comes to doing studio time. He rolls out of bed early in the a.m. and heads straight for Jimmy Hennec's Pluto Muzik, where he'll work all day, Weezy-like, on his latest lyrical creations.
Hennec, whose "Crank It Up" recently became the No. 1 song on the local urban music scene, has helped Duren focus on what is increasingly starting to look like a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the big time. Since Duren moved to Valdosta a few months ago to work with the hot producer and with proteges J-Luv and Stone, he's seen his itenerary change from random shows at local bars to plane flights to Minnesota to perform with Eminem homies D-12.
Duren also hooked up with the legendary Nappy Roots for a recent show, which he stole, and he's fielding calls almost daily from national record labels and promoters. He's been recruited to perform at a giant hip-hop concert in Dallas, and part of his performance with D-12 in Mapelwood, Minn., will be shown in the independently produced motion picture "The Musick."
And Duren/Cloroks' latest single, "Drinkin' Buddy," is generating buzz all over the Southeast; its debut on local urban stations WJIZ in Albany and WLYX-96 in Valdosta now imminent. He's working with Hennec on a new album -- possible title: "Get Drunk or Die Tryin'" -- and he's contemplating a deal that will include the rerelease/distribution of his 2008 album "Your Pale Homie."
"I don't want to be just another rapper," Duren says during a sit-down at Elements Coffee on Ledo Road. "I want to go out legendary; I want to be notorious.
"I've tried to set a timetable for myself in this business, and I've even tried to walk away from Cloroks. But I can't do it. This is where my heart is."
Duren's heart is also in Albany, and he plans to give back the love he's gotten from his hometown with a return concert Friday. He, J-Luv, Stone and red-hot Valdosta turntable master DJ Karlo will perform at the Chop Shop at 2238 Palmyra Road.
"I haven't played at home in a while," Duren said. "We're looking at this show as a celebration, a chance to show the folks at home how much I love them."
The return of Cloroks is creating quite a buzz in the area already. The Mack Allen Production street team is dishing out flyers and promo material to "Roks-aholics" clamoring to hear more from their Skittles-throwing, Buttaball Girl-loving hero.
"My Roks-aholics, those guys are disturbed," Duren says with a wicked laugh. "They've got problems; they're going to meetings, doing the step program for their addiction to my music."
Duren's music, the well-received "Homie," the recent mix tape "The Adventures of Eddie Van Pale'n" -- which features the glove-wearing, animated rock-star alter ego to Cloroks' fun hip-hop vibe -- is the basis for his growing mob of Roks-aholics and the attention of movers in the music industry. It's at times hilarious in its cleverness, but it's very listenable.
"If your music doesn't grow, you become stagnant and die," Duren said. "That's where Eddie Van Pale'n came from; he's a little more shocking, a little more serious than Cloroks. It's my rock-star side coming out.
"As an artist, you have to always be mutating, changing, transforming what you do. That's why I'm going to keep working until I become the most reckless, the most ruthless, the most wanted in the industry ... at least until they find me, Kurt Cobain-style, in a hotel room. You have to plan for these things."
And for Michael Duren/Cloroks/Eddie Van Pale'n, the plans are gowing increasingly more far-reaching.
"Man, I get e-mails and snail mail from all over, and I've got some loyal fans," Duren says. "I got a box the other day in the mail, and I was a little afraid to open it. But some kid had sent me a box full of Skittles and a thank-you note saying how much he loved my music. It's really amazing, I get crazy love from all over."
Not that the man called Cloroks is about to go all soft on us or anything.
"Did I tell you about my latest ideas for global conquest?" he asks, tongue planted in cheek. "Did I tell you about Puff Daddy? Me and him and Taylor Swift are going in together to push our own brand of cheesecake. And I'm going to work on a single with Tupac; we'll do it on the Ouija Board.
"And what's up with Albany, anyway? They protest Gucci Mane coming, but they've got no problem with Cloroks? What's wrong with these folks? Don't they know I'm notorious ..."
Words to live by from everyone's pale homie.