Who is Caleborate? Give us a little introduction.
One you would have to know I’m a Gemini and like I have so many different entities I’m always growing and changing, not necessarily switching up but just growing. As of right now where I’m at, 22 years old soon to be a college graduate, I’m just this fucking kid that has had a dream since he was 16 or 17 and is just chasing that shit. I’m just passionate about what I believe in and what I believe in is the power of good music and how that shit can make you feel. Aside from that? Me as a person, I love burritos and pizza, I just like good food, I like watching Bob’s burgers, I just like being chill.
The thing about being a rapper, I’m not into the super rap shit, I rather just be like chillin,' eating sushi at the crib, tucked off on Netflix. A good Sunday to me is, wake up, workout, get some lunch, go to the studio, eat it, and work in the studio for 6 or 7 hours, come home and Netflix binge, maybe go kick it with a girl and fall asleep. That’s like my dream day, that’s the life.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Sacramento, I moved to Berkeley when I was 17 and I’ve been here until now (22). I moved to Richmond recently but the B was where I was during my teenage-adult life. Berkeley is where I got the game from.
Has spending time in Berkeley and the rest of the Bay Area influenced your sound and content? Specifically, have any artists from the Bay influenced you?
The Bay Area more so, the actual communities and the people and the lifestyles influence me more than this song or that song. Waking up in the morning and going down to Telegraph and getting breakfast, talking to people, or being in the town and going to Farley’s or something like that. That type of shit, meeting people and making relationships with those people, the experiences and relationships I had in the Bay probably did more for me than just songs, songs I heard in the Bay Area were influential but it was more so the experiences and the eclectic culture and spirit the the Bay Area gives off.
Like we know the stigma we’re given in the Bay Area, like all we do is hyphy and shit like that. Every artist that is from the Bay that is known for making party records, is more than capable of making all types of records. The Bay area is such an eclectic place, you have the abiliity to do anything, we’re around so much culture everyday. So the party sound may be something we choose to do but it’s not all we can do. And I think I’m just the example of that fact right there. Every type of song and style has its time and place, it's just figuring out where you exist and what the Bay brings out of you.
Ok, so living in Berkeley and spending time in Oakland and other cities within the inner Bay Area, what are your thoughts about gentrification and how it is affecting the culture and people that live in these cities like Oakland, Richmond, etc?
Gentrification is a problem, the fact that it can exist anywhere is a problem, it's indicative of a larger problem. The fact that there is a class of people that make a certain amount of money and they are displacing another class of people, that’s a problem. There shouldn't be any displacement, granted there is only so much world to go around and there’s only so many people that can live everywhere, I get that, but mass displacement, like moving an entire community out that’s just out of pocket to me. But, I think there are good and bad sides to gentrification, one of the positives, there is more money flowing into the community and there is an effort to clean up the city. I mean you roll through West Oakland, it’s way cleaner, you feel more comfortable it’s cool. But with that new development comes losing the community, so there are ups and downs. To me it’s shitty that the community is displaced, that’s the worst part, because those are human beings, like it means a lot to grow up somewhere and to be able to come back where you grew up and for that place to be what it's like when you grew up there. But at the same time it is important for neighborhoods to be refurbished and cleaned up. I think it’s just about finding the balance. I mean the fact that Feels could be thrown in West Oakland on Mandela Pkwy, that’s a product of gentrification.
Gentrification in a place like Oakland, just blows especially because Oakland is so eclectic and it’s known for its culture. The people that come out of the town are doing great things in the world right now. Like Damian Lillard in the NBA, Kehlani, she’s doing great things right now.
Sway is from the town!
Right! Sway is from the town, he’s an OG from the town. So yeah, just the one of the main negative parts about it is that ultimately a culture is lost.
What are your thoughts on the current culture of rap and hip-hop music? How does your sound fit in or standout from other artists that are out right now?
I wouldn’t even consider myself apart of the rap game, I just want to classify myself as an artist. These days, the rap game and hip-hop is just all fucked up, it’s a free for all, which isn’t necessarily bad but that doesn’t mean it’s good either. It just means anything goes, when anything goes some really great shit is going to happen, n*ggas like ChanceTheRapper screaming on songs and everyone loves it or some really bad, weird, non-applausable shit is going to happen. It’s just like if the commissioner of the NBA said, "Alright, n*ggas don’t have to dribble anymore, traveling is okay,” it's like anyone can do anything. Shaq can go coast to coast and just dunk on n*ggas. The rules are fucking gone. My thing about existing in this shit is just doing me, doing what I want to do and making what I want to make. I don’t really see anyone else’s movements. No disrespect, but if you’re trying to make great art and trying to change lives you dont have time to compare yourself like, “I’m hotter than this n*gga or that n*gga”. If anything it has to be more about my songs and comparing how honest or real I am. I’m just trying to stay in my own lane, create your own lane and stay in it, you feel me?
What does TBKTR mean?
TBKTR stands for, That Black Kid That Raps. I got it because I would go kick it at Cal and would be the only black person nine times out of ten so I would always be rapping and shit. I would go to a party n*ggas would be smoking, drinking and just start freestyling and I would always be that black kid that rapped. So I just started branding it and I just stuck with it. TBKTR is really the origin of all of this shit.
So switching it up, let’s talk about Hella Good. Explain the tracklist, why those songs and what was the recording process was like?
We just made a lot of records, 2015 was a crazy year as far as recording. I made Winter Break in two weeks, literally while on winter break from school. I had done like eight or nine songs, I think six or seven made the actual album. The funny thing is a lot of these songs were done a while ago, like either the songs were made hella early or a couple of weeks before the album dropped. All of those songs were indicative of certain points in my life, like The Hussle, strikes a real ass chord with me because I remember those nights grinding that was my mindset. The track SMH is funny because originally, I hated that song, it was just whatever, but everybody I played that shit for loved that record, dudes, girls, everybody loved the song except for me. It’s crazy because sometimes you can really be polar opposites. But yeah, that’s how those songs came about they were just all inspired by moments in my life.
What’s your favorite song on the album? Do you have a least favorite or one you don’t listen to as much as the others? If so, why?
It always changes by week or even the day, like one day I’ll really be fucking with one song but right now, Get The Green. I’ve been listening to that for like three weeks but whenever I’m about to do a show Saggin Par is my favorite song to perform. It’s the hardest song to perform because it’s at the end of the set and I’ve already been jumping around the whole performance but it’s so high energy, I love it. One I’m not listening to the most? Mm, I don’t know, when I listen to it I play it front to back and I’ll always critique my shit but I love them all, I don’t put anything out that I’m not really fucking with. That’s why it was so hard to put SMH out, I was like I’m going to sit on it and I kept listening to it, then I was like yeah, this is me, I’m going to put it out.
The first time I saw your lyrics they were being tweeted by G-Eazy. What was it like getting confirmation from big artists out the Bay like G-Eazy and P-Lo? I know that websites like The Source and Pigeons and Planes also premiered Hella Good. What was it like waking up and seeing all of this buzz around the album?
It was crazy like I had got news that Pigeons and Planes and the Source were going to premiere the album. I was like, cool, that’s awesome I was literally elated when I got the news from these sites. As for G and P-Lo to shout it out and go out of the way to publicly let me know that they fucked with it was cool. I was thinking like, damn, how selfless of a person, it was tight as fuck. But it also speaks to everyone understanding the importance of everyone from the Bay coming together and linking up. Like the Bay Area is a super team, there is so much talent. It’s about to blow, it’s like Chicago, there's a fucking slew of artists coming out of Chicago doing great things and the Bay Area has all of that too. So, I think we are finally beginning to understand that we don’t have to take the lime light and hold it, we can get a few of them and make a flood light and put hella n*ggas on, ya know? So, I think that was a monumental step in that process, with G and P-Lo reaching out and supporting.
How have you grown or evolved as an artist between Winter Break your last project, and now releasing Hella Good?
Winter Break was me coming into what I am now. What I understood and what I realize about my artistry and myself coming out of Winter Break I started to reconginze it toward the tail end of recording that project, is that not only do I have to speak out my own problems and the things I’m going through but understand how I can relate them to the masses. You have to make your music edible people have to be able to digest it. That’s what I’ve learned from creating Winter Break to now and finishing Hella Good. So just trying to find that perfect balance between music that is completely relatable and music that is very much so personal.
What upcoming collaborations can we look forward to? Who are some artists you would like to work with from the Bay? And if you could collaborate with any artist right now who would it be?
G-Eazy, I got a lot of shit in the works with P-Lo, I’m always working with P and Kuya Beats, I’m working on some shit with JayAnt. I still haven’t linked with IAMSU, he’s an all-star producer, he’s creative as shit so I’m trying to get some work in with him. Outside of the Bay? The sky is the limit, but right now my dream collab would be J.Cole or Childish Gambino, just because those are two artists that have really shaped me during my youth adolescence.
What's up next for Caleborate? Any new music or visuals dropping anytime soon?
What’s always been next, staying in the studio on a daily, still fucking grinding and creating new art. The next thing that people are going to see are visuals from the album. So I’ve been working on that with different directors. It’s just continuing to make more music and artistically in the space that I’m in I think that I’ve found the next vibe, the next sound that x-factor.
What do you want to achieve? What is your goal as you continue on in your career as an artist?
I want to be sensational (laughs) nah, I’m playing. It’s not that I want to be famous, I want to be what Bob Marley is to people, what Tupac is to people, I want to be that to people alive. I want to be that for the sake of having that kind of influence or impresison on someone’s life through music. Fifteen or twenty years from now, I want to be dope enough where people say, “if you lived to see this dude perform you were lucky”. That’s what I strive for, it’s just all about perfecting your craft and taking this shit hella seriously.