This is a guest post from D’Andre, our Musical Ear.
Last year was a big one for Berkeley based artist Caleborate. SF Weekly selected his Hella Good LP as the best Bay Area album of 2015. With a collaboration with G-Eazy already under his belt, Caleborate is primed to make waves nationally with his music. I recently had an opportunity to chat with Caleborate regarding some of his favorite Berkeley spots, his upbringing, and his upcoming project 1993, due to be released this summer.
Where are you from?
Originally from South Sacramento Ca. I moved to Berkeley when I was 17, and I’ve been in Berkeley for about four or five years. I just recently moved to Richmond about a year ago. But I’m originally from Sac.
What brought you to Berkeley?
Long story short, my parents were divorced. When your folks are divorced, that leads to split custody. I spent a lot of time going from house to house. When I was younger, like 15 or 16, when a lot of kids were hanging out and going to Friday night football games, I had to go to my mom’s house. When the summertime came, I had to go see my mom. I was always going house to house, and finally after I graduated from high school, like a week later, I already knew where I was going to go to college, which was Academy of Art University. And I just really needed to get out of that situation, that broken home and divorced parents, that situation was kind of messy. Berkeley was where my brother lived when I was 17, he let me move in with him and sleep on his couch.
Your love of Berkeley is pretty evident in your music. What is it about the city that makes you enjoy it so much?
You have to understand for me, telling you how my teen years were — when you spend a lot of time on the freeway, going from house to house you never get the opportunity to just chill and enjoy your friends. I never was the kid that would just hang out with friends and drink and smoke. I never did that because as soon as Friday came I packed my bags and went to my mom’s house in Antioch, where I knew no one.
The reason why Berkeley is so special to me is because that was the first time in my life that I got to just live, and to be with my friends and make memories and experiences. It’s so special to me because I got my first job in Berkeley, I got my first apartment. I became a man in Berkeley, all the lessons that I have learned in life that have made me into the person I am today, to be able to be at this point, not just in my career but in my life, Berkeley taught me that shit. I made the best friends of my life, people that have been my friends for the last six years. I feel like when I got to Berkeley I didn’t have a home, and when I got to Berkeley I feel like I met people who appreciated my presence and we made memories and experiences.
Nook and Kranny also highlights Bay Area restaurants. What are some of your favorite Berkeley or Oakland restaurants?
It’s tough to choose a favorite, but my favorite spot to just go is Pappy’s right down Telegraph off Durant. It’s a good college bar, the food is cheap, they have hella student specials. It’s always been my spot because I’m a broke college student. So being able to go somewhere and spend six bucks for a whole meal and a beer is invaluable. There’s also a taqueria on University called Picante. It just opened about year ago. There’s another cool place on Ashby & Adeline called Flacos, and they make healthy fire ass tacos. I don’t think they use real meat but it’s hella good.
How do you feel you’ve grown from your 2014 debut EP Winter Break to now?
I’ve become more comfortable telling my story, being more vulnerable, and I just think with time any person that’s in a chosen career path, with time they’ll get better. I’ve become a better lyricist, writer, better at recording and going in the studio and understanding my voice. It’s not so much just me, I can’t say that i’ve become better, because honestly a big part of music, especially hip-hop, is production. In this era, your production has to really be on point. I think one of the things that has improved about my music since then, is that the people around me have continued to improve as well. We’ve all gotten better, we’ve all taken steps forward in the right direction. It’s just getting more and more refined.
You just dropped a visual for your song El Bandito, and announced the title of your next project – 1993. What can fans and new listeners expect?
A lot more polished material. Dropping that video for El Bandito was us taking take our time and thinking of a very clever way to release something for an old song. That song is a standout on the last project so It was a great way to give fans and new listeners a visual for that song and to also tie it in for this new project, which I think will be groundbreaking and really historic. Every time you watch that video you’re going to think about the new project coming out, and ever after it’s out, it’s going to remind you of the old one and the new one. I think that sort of innovations in terms coming up with clever ideas and the time we took in making that idea come together, those are really the things that I think people can expect from the newer work, new project and new visuals. Everything is more thought out and a lot more time put into it, and really trying to enhance the experience for the listener and the people who support.
Those records, I don’t think they’re going to be on this project. I just dropped them as some loosies. I hadn’t put a song out in a few months, and I wanted to put something out for the people who have supported me. I don’t think they’ll end up on the project, there just two records I wanted to people to have and add to their Caleborate library.
What do you hope to accomplish by the end of 2016?
What matters to me the most is that I want my music to reach more people. If that means i get an award for it or any sort of acknowledgment that’s cool. If ten people said this project changed my life, then that’s the most important thing to me. Some publication may say this album was average or whatever, but to me this album is going to be incredible because these ten people were influenced heavily by it, and this project meant something important to them. No publication or award could take that away. At the end of the day, that’s why I started doing music in the first place.
Do you have any performances coming up?
I’m doing a small tour with P-Lo (of HBK Gang) and Noodles (Kehlani’s DJ). It’s a California tour, we’re gonna hit LA, Santa Cruz, Sac, and San Francisco. I’m really juiced because this is my first tour. It’s four cities in five or six days. I’m really excited for it. We’re still trying to lock in the dates, but I know it’s in July.