By Isaac Muñoz
Rap Music Journalist
Album: Real Person
Release Date: October 6, 2017
The Bay Area, and much of the West Coast, are no strangers to having hidden gems within their cities. One hidden gem coming out from Berkeley, California is rapper Caleb Parker, a.k.a. Caleborate. Although he began his rapping career in high school, Caleborate didn’t start to see real recognition until he released his project Hella Good in 2015. Because of that release, Caleborate was able to do a song with G-Eazy, open for Kehlani and do a tour with P-Lo. He then took a hiatus from college to work on his next project: 1993. After the success of his project 1993 in 2016, Caleborate then released his personal, in-depth album Real Person in 2017. In this project, Caleborate touches on topics such as his career, love life, political views and the obstacles he faces.
The album opens with the track “Caught Up” detailing the things that have him “caught up” in his life. Caleborate first speaks of his father because although Caleborate has a “couple problems” he could blame his father for his father is important to him. The beat, produced by Willem Ardui, keeps the listener interested with its groove while Caleborate holds your attention with his emotion-evoking flow. Caleborate enters the second verse admitting to his listener that he’s “caught up” in his feelings for his ex-girlfriend. The lines “I know I’m ‘posed to be all hard and never sweat sh*t/But it hurt when you lose the one that you connect with,” resonated with me because the point that is being made can be applied to many other aspects of relationships, other than romantic.
“Caught Up” is followed by the more upbeat and inspiring track “Soul”. Caleborate urges the listener to not let “them”, most likely the people hating, “take your soul”. He defends the “seven day a week, always on they grind” and the “takin’ care of their kids on that nine to five” people in this song and reminds them to not give up due to people being negative towards your goals. This is a message that is reassuring to know is being spread amongst the youth and the old because many people succumb to the pressure of living up to others’ expectations rather than their own. Caleborate opens up even more by explaining that he is still living at his aunt’s house and the other struggles he is facing such as not having a car, a job or any money. He reminds the listener that “you can’t stop and you won’t stop” and that you’ll “just tighten up your belt” to keep on moving through the obstacles.
A favorite of mine that comes in as the sixth track on the project is “Fine”. A song that has you rocking your head five seconds into listening because the drums are too captivating for you to not want to rock with it. A slowed down sample of “Electric Relaxation” by A Tribe Called Quest fades in and then you are trapped in the bounce of the song until it ends. Like Tribe, Caleborate begins the song talking about a girl who is so pretty that “even a blind man” would notice her. A short song with a twist on a classic song from the golden era of hip-hop. I am usually uneasy when I hear someone use a sample from classic song that defined an era but Caleborate puts me to ease with his excellent execution of his flow over the beat.
The last stand-out of Caleborate’s project is “Real Person”. He opens up about the “realization that somebody is always hating” and the women who are “contemplating dating” him. Caleborate admits the way he deals with the women and the realization he has made is that he’ll drinks until he “can’t feel nothing else/But the drums of this song beating.” The hook of the song is my favorite part because the hook is just him telling his listener that he is a “real person” every season of the year. I find that important to mention because that means he is speaking on experiences true to him and not to anyone else, which is a vital principle in hip-hop because other rappers, including fans, can tell when someone is authentic or not. Caleborate then begins to tell us about his friend Darian that passed away. In the second verse, Caleborate begins to realize the struggles of chasing his dreams as a rapper.
Real Person is an introspective project on which Caleborate provides life lessons through stories from his past. The lyrical ability exhibited by Caleborate in this project definitely makes him a stand-out artist. His flow over the project as a whole, overshadows the beats themselves. Caleborate has substance to his music that leaves his fans wanting more. He is not releasing music just for the “retweets or dollars” because he knows that there is much more beyond that.