One of the first things I noticed about Berkeley rapper Caleborate is that his rap name is an elaborate form of wordplay on his birth name, Caleb. It’s a combination of a couple of puns and portmanteau (when you combine 2 words into one and make a whole new word), making his name a literal party for word nerds. Caleborate’s newest album Real Person is out, and it’s definitely worth your time. Caleborate has been putting out good music for a while now, and this album is no exception.
It begins with low-key track, “Caught Up,” a haunting beat that Caleborate melds seamlessly with lyrics about a relationship that’s recently ended. He follows it up with “Soul,” the upbeat single he released leading up to the album. The album is honest, sometimes heartbreakingly so. Caleborate doesn’t hesitate to put it all out there, whether he’s talking about his own experiences, or flexing on haters who just don’t get it. He isn’t just a wordsmith, he can also wax philosophic. Nowhere is this more clear than on tracks like “Wanna Be,” where he goes from skewering his critics to letting them know that focusing on hate is just a way to ignore their own lives.
You hating on me, now you ignoring you/Cause we just want our own little slice of the good life/because it’s unfamiliar you infatuated with hood life/I guess that’s what these beats are for us/so fuck it we gonna take advantage.
The title track comes second to last on the album, with a chill, stripped-down beat and smooth, rapid-fire flow. Like the rest of the album, it’s a rumination on the problems that come with living life, trying to make the right choices, struggling to get by…and losing friends too soon.
Winter, spring, summertime, I’m a real person/Rainfall, thundershine, I’m a real person/my name dawg, you can find, under real person.
The final song, “No Way” is a hopeful rejection of unsolicited advice, the chorus a refrain against those who would try and tell him what to do. It’s reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar in its simplistic confidence and sound. It’s clear that although Caleborate has already run into people who think he needs to change or won’t succeed, he isn’t swayed by that message. He’s still going to find his way.