Exclusive: Cali's Caleborate Keeps It Real With ErinASimon

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The Bay Area and California has been poppin' recently when it comes to artists like Iamsu!, Sage the Gemini and etc. But, one artist that is just as poppin' and is on the rise up is Northern California's emcee Caleborate. who recently released his latest project "Hella Good." Not only his is sound very old school-ish and chill but so is his personality.

HYPEFRESH’s Erin Simon (@erinasimon) chats with Caleborate about the Bay Area music scene, his thoughts on social awareness in hip hop and more in this exclusive interview.

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Erin Simon: Recently you performed at Hiero Day. How was that day for you? What was the highlight of the day?

Caleborate: Yes I did. Damn I'm still amazed at the fact that it happened. It was awesome. Very awesome. Honestly I can't really put words how honored I was. Seeing as to how they are a legendary hip-hop group from the Bay it meant a lot to be recognized by them and to share a stage at such a signature event. I'd have to say for me, the highlight of the day was the whole experience. Meeting legendary artists, being on stage, hearing the crowd sing along and rock with my song, it was all just a great experience seeing all your hard work validated.

ES: Your sound is very old school, chill flow sound. Nowadays, you won't hear that sound as much. Why did you decide to develop your sound with that kind of flow? Was there a specific influence that moved you toward that?

Caleborate: I would have to say what influenced me to find that sound was what I was listening to at the time I decided I wanted to rap. I was listening to a lot of music that was influenced by that old school vibe. A lot of Cole, a lot of Kendrick, along with Gym Class Heroes, Pharrell, just a bunch of music that was influenced by that sound. My pop also influenced me in my youth with a bunch of Nas, Tribe, Jay-Z a bunch of shit that just made me want to evoke that sort of old school vibe. I always wanted to make that sort of music because it was what I listened to and what I personally liked so it just went hand in hand.

ES: If you had one or several artists' sound that you could say that if they were mashed together, it would equal your sound, who would it or they would be?

Caleborate: Ooh damn bruh thats hard. I like to think that I'm unique but I'm totally aware that bits an pieces of artists make their way into you music just by way of natural influence. I'd say I sound like a little bit of Common, a little bit of Cole, a little Gambino, a little Q-Tip, a little Earl Sweat, a little Vic a little Chance, a little Kanye, a little Travis Mccoy a little bit of everything really. I've listened to so much music especially during my formative years that properly pinpointing all of my influences would be nearly impossible.

ES: What makes you unique as an artist coming out of Berkeley, CA/the Bay Area (which has been poppin' in terms of artists recently)?

Caleborate: I think that's for listeners to decide. I'm just being myself. I'm literally just making songs about the things that I've seen and around my life. I'm not trying to be or do anything so if being me is unique then I'd have to say I'm sticking with that plan.

ES: In a performance back in September, there was a moment where you fell to your knees, cried and said "Let's do this shit. I don't care if I cry in this motherfucker." Do you feel like it is important as an artist to show your fans your vulnerable and/or flawed state?

Caleborate: Of course. I think that we as artists are encouraged to put up this facade to keep up this image in order for us to keep profiting. I think, fuck that, I'm not gonna hold back or restrain from being myself in order to make more money. It's about what matters more really, it matters more that people respect me and my truth more than people throw dollars at me. So fuck being fake, and acting like I'm impervious to embarrassment or that I don't have any short comings, I do. We all do. And I like to relate to the masses through them.

ES: In "Youth in Revolt" you focus on how black artists say "black lives matter" but are portraying sexist references and capitalizing on what is the complete opposite ideology in their songs. Do you feel like that contradicting situation is the reason why artists aren't as vocal when it comes to social movements now?

Caleborate: That's a deep question lol. I feel like there is a juxtaposition at the very base of hip hop culture, especially as it pertains to black males in the genre. The lifestyle in which most of us are brought up in teaches us certain values that are not necessarily important i.e. Womanizing, having luxurious things, being dangerous or having street cred. A bunch of shit that at the end of the day don't mean shit once you're 6 feet under. But there is also this illustrious history of our ancestors fighting for freedom, abolishing slavery and segregation, preaching enlightenment throughout communities like it was their life's mission. I think that we as a people struggle with those two parts of our culture and musically it shows. There is always a constant tug and pull between righteousness and evil in our lives, I think it's up to us to accurately portray it.

ES: You seem to wear hats a lot. Almost every photo on IG you have a hat on? Why is that? Are you a big hat fan?

Caleborate: I'm definitely a big hat fan, my pops used to wear the same Raiders cap almost everyday for 20+ years until I bought him a new one haha. Plus I keep my hair cut bald and I don't wanna be a bald rapper. People joke that I look like a discount Pac, so I just wear caps, I usually wear them anyways when I bike so I'm accustom to them.

ES: The HBKGang has been making major waves recently, how's your relationship with them?

Caleborate: They're all awesome dudes. I haven't formally met and gotten to know everyone in the gang yet. We're cool though, Kuya is probably who I'm most cool with just because I met him first and we started making music together and have very good chemistry in the studio. I've been in the studio with P-Lo as well, and Drew Banga along with 1-O.A.K. And I always remark on how talented they are. They just have an awesome ear for music, and really respect the craft of making quality music. I don't really have any stories to share, maybe those will come with time. We just hang out and make awesome music man.

ES: What do you have coming up project wise and performance wise?

Caleborate: I'm just taking it one step a day. Still making music still doing shows. Not stressing nothing right now just writing my life and recording it.

ES: What's one thing that fans do not know about you?
Caleborate: They'd have to keep listening to find out. That's why I always keep it honest ????

ES: Any last comment or thought?

Caleborate: Love to all my ni**as that's still riding, thank you for reading. It's all love. TBKTR forever ever and a day.