This past Saturday, I was with a number of friends brewery and bar hopping around the Charlotte area. We started at NoDa Brewing Company in the late afternoon because they were releasing their Girl Scout cookie inspired beers, of which the Somoan Blonde is AMAZING. (insert all fire emojis). Naturally, they were sold out of those, although their Tagging-a-long brown ale was quite tasty. After a few of those, our group made its way over to the Davidson Street Public House where we all had some tapas style dishes – lamb mac & cheese, pork belly sliders, bruschetta, etc. Great food, (more) good beers and a great environment. Saturday was off to really nice start. As we were wrapping things up at the table, one of the girls with us had a really stong urge to see some live music (What up BetSQUAD!). A few of the other folks were calling it a night, but Amanda and I weren’t quite ready to go home yet, so we more or less said, “why not?” Nobody had any idea of what live music was actually being played that night, we just walked over to The Neighborhood Theatre and sure enough, they had a concert lined up for 8:00pm. Tickets were $12, so we more or less said YOLO and bought ourselves some. The headlining artist was Caleborate. I consider myself a pretty big hip-hop head, yet I had never heard of this artist prior to buying my ticket at the door. Nevertheless, our group makes its way inside and we wait for the show to begin. I’ll go to my grave preferring small venues to large ones, and this night spoke volumes to that preference. There were maybe 50-75 people inside having some drinks, small talking, etc. There was plenty of space, we had easy access to the bar, and we had a great view of the stage. After a few minutes, Caleborate walks out and onto the stage to some casual applause. There was nothing extravagant, no grand entrance. He gets on the mic and tells us who he is (Caleb Parker hence Caleborate), where he’s from (Berkeley, CA) and from that point he began to run through his most recent album, Real Person. To be completely forthcoming, my expectations were pretty low. And I don’t mean any offense by saying that. I’ve been to a lot of hip-hop/rap shows throughout the years, and I’ve seen a lot of what you might call struggle rappers open for different artists trying to get their name out. I had never heard of Caleborate prior to this show, so I wasn’t expecting much. Let me tell you how absolutely wrong I was. In today’s music scene where the rising stars are artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump, Lil Xan, Lil Skies and XXXtentacion, Caleborate is a breath of fresh air.
He’s got lyrical ability, storytelling ability, and a genuine feel to his music. Caleborate played his entire Real Person album front to back. To say the least, I was impressed. The soulful samples that he used on the album brought a J. Cole and Big K.R.I.T. sound forward. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m pretty sure the song “Fine” somehow made use of “Forbidden Fruit” by J. Cole, which in turn sampled “Electric Relaxation” by A Tribe Called Quest. It just sounded very familiar. Regardless, after the set concluded and Caleborate exited the stage, our group made its way to the merch table. We had a chance to meet Caleborate and get some photos with him. I purchased a Real Person CD for $10 that he autographed for me.
He was extremely humble, very thankful and in general just a nice guy. (I’ve since listened to the album about 3 times front to back and I’m amazed at how good it is). After we parted ways, Caleborate went on to speak to some other fans and I had a chance to speak with one of his boys who was selling merch. We talked about the tour, and I asked where they were going next, to which he replied “D.C”. I asked how they were getting there and he told me that they were all riding in a minivan. And it just hit me. Like, damn. These guys are really out here giving it everything they have, grinding day in and day out to go from city to city to support their friend. I think that made me appreciate the music even more. It speaks volumes to have a crew like that with you, and it says a lot about who you are as well.
The following day, I got online and started searching Caleborate to find out more about his music. Lo and behold he’s got a feature from KRIT on his “Soul” remix and he’s a got a song produced by J. Cole, aplty called “Produced by J. Cole”. I know Caleborate is probably sick of hearing how people are sleeping on him, but I was figuratively in a coma. I strongly encourage anyone to check this guy out. Give him some streams on whatever music app you have or if he’s coming to your city, spend the $10-$12 to get out there and see him perform. Talk to him after the show, get a picture with him. He might just be the next guy to blow. Don’t wind up kicking yourself years from now by passing up the opportunity to check him out. Here are the remaining tour dates. You know what to do.