Bay Area born and bred Caleborate was one of the first subjects of the Moment of Truth column. We profiled the 22-year old MC in January and dubbed his Winter Break EP as “settled and fluent.” He hasn't stopped working and developing his style since and just premiered his new Hella Good LP this week over at Pigeons & Planes. Today, we keep touting the praises of one of the most promising local hip-hop products and releases of the year.
What stands out on Hella Good (bump it in full below), is the growth Caleborate has shown in such a short time. He straddles many styles on the album, never coming across as uncomfortable on any of them. He comes out guns blazing on the album's opener, “From The East Bay With Love,” over a smooth soul sample and heavy bass hits from producer Wonderlust. Then he settles into complex drums from equally impressive Belgian producer Willem Ardui, on the tongue-in-cheek “Get The Green,” droppin' gems like “The game's mine, you just run in place/ I'm more like Kanye on 'Heard Em Say'/ While you more like Kanye on VMA's.” It's a breath of fresh air to hear an MC having fun on a record. Especially when it seems like everyone in the Bay is trying to out-muscle each other on a flow.
Wonderlust and Ardui highlight a tastefully selected crop of producers on Hella Good, that also includes HBK Gang's, Drew Banga, and 1-O.A.K. on the album's nastiest track, “El Bandito.” It's an epic beat from the HBK crew and Caleborate shines on every bar. He's the type of MC that keeps you hanging on a never-ending lyrical stream and the thoughtful production on Hella Good, keeps you grooving to the record through and through. From Ardui's guitar samples on “Kaytra” to Ian McKee & Turk's mellowed riffs on “Youth In Revolt,” and HBK Gang's Kuya Beats woodwind guided “The Fuzz II,” Caleborate has surrounded himself with a crop of beatmakers that make the sonic palette of Hella Good, very uniquely his own.
Don't sleep on this kid. He's crafty and clever lyrically, but also knows how to drop a fucking hammer when he's feelin' it. Thematically, Caleborate's music is progressing in a refined and intriguing direction and there's a clear artistic vision that's well-enacted by him and the production team on Hella Good. Co-sign.
Caleborate plays an album release party at The New Parish on Monday August 31st. Get tickets here and bump Hella Good below:
The New Parish, Oakland
Monday August 31st 8pm