Caleborate’s Lays Himself Bare On “Real Person”

Berkeley’s favorite son Caleborate has worked hard to put the city on over the last few years, dropping projects such as Hella Good and 1993 showcasing his ability on the mic and paying homage to his roots and supporters. Both projects looked toward the future as Caleb continues to build himself and grow into the Bay music scene overflowing with talent.

Caleborate’s latest release, Real Person, is a major departure from the previous two projects. Where Hella Good and 1993 offered hints of Caleb’s ability to wax introspective, Real Person is a project completely centered around authenticity and candor. His ability to lay himself bare over the track does not come at the cost of any content and results in his most comprehensive project to date.

Real Person sheds the ornaments that adorn the current wave of hip-hop. The project carries few features apart from 1-O.A.K.Donte Thomas, and MVCK, as well as guest vocals from Alexis Angulo. The instrumentals are laid back and cohesive, dropping multiple vocals layers and samples in favor of a more simplistic approach. It works. Real Person focuses on the essentials of production and songwriting, allowing Caleborate’s voice to reverberate throughout.

This would not be possible without the quality Caleb brings to his bars. He pens a eulogy for himself over fantastic production from names such as Lege Kale, Ian McKee, Willem ArduiDrew Banga, and a few others. Caleborate’s familiarity with his producers is another driving force of the project. Their ability to translate their visions into reality sustain what would be a daunting concept in others’ hands.

Caleborate talks living, legacy, mental state, drive, ambition and more on the project, even tackling the complexities of current politics on “Down.” Caleborate fleshes out the roots of his ambitions and traces his trajectory all the way back to his parent’s divorce on the standout track “Wanna Be.” His phenomenal singles “Soul” and “Bankrobber” also make an appearance on the project.

Real Person is a story of life, obstacles, anxieties and dreams. The multiplicity of topics that Caleb tackles over the course of the 10-track album coalesce into one concept: the real person. Caleborate strips himself down to create music on a human level that reflects the humility that has endeared him to so many fans.

Caleborate continues to push forward, already releasing visual content and hosting listening parties to celebrate the new project. Let him take you away with Real Person on SoundCloud below.

 

 

Don Mykel Proves Himself On New Album ‘Infinite’

Don Mykel has been exciting listeners this year with an series of stellar singles. “Return of the Don,” “N.W.O.”, and “Hell On Earth” showcased the young rapper’s abilities on the mic. Though Mykel’s most outstanding talent is as a lyricist, past his creative lyrical ability, the Don seems to be able to change his delivery and inflections at will, creating a streamlined and relentless flow over more traditional, conservative instrumentals. Mykel’s pen game cannot be ignored, and really pushes his tracks to the heights they reach. However, it is not just his lyrical ability that takes him to the next level, but a broad skill set that pushes his music through the roof. Infinite is a test of Mykel’s ability to tune into this skill set and create a comprehensive set of tracks.

Mykel passed the test with flying colors. Featuring “N.W.O.” and “Hell on Earth,” Infinite is an entirely different entity to the singles, and gives them a new meaning within the context of the album.

The lyrical overload that Don Mykel has cemented as his calling card is balanced out by more paced, thoughtful tracks. Infinite‘s lead track, “Notorious,” previews what listeners can expect from the album as a whole. With a more outspoken instrumental than he normally employs, Mykel bounces around the track with his typical energy. He deftly switches his direction on the track, slowing down and altering his deliveries before picking the pace mack up to close it off. The ability to grow with and in the beat is a distinct strength of the Don’s. He is the type of dynamic rapper that can cope with a dynamic beat, such as “Notorious.” In this way, Mykel creates a kind of call and response within his tracks, bouncing off of the instrumentals and even himself at times.

The album continues with same ferocity it started with. Mykel is relentless over the track; even his slower bars pack a major punch. Infinite proves a lot about Mykel. Many rappers stylistically similar to Mykel struggle to create a a consistently strong album. Raw talent goes only so far; it can sustain singles but supporting an entire album is a different animal. On Infinite, the Don demonstrates an impressive ability to balance his tracks against each other. The “Levy Grey Interlude” divides the album in half, splitting the tracks into two succinct sections that function both separately together.

With Infinite under his belt, Don Mykel can take the confidence the project will give him and continue proving himself one of Harlem’s most exciting young voices. Keep tabs on him and what he has to offer moving forward from Infinite.

Stream the full project below.

MIKNNA Continue Funk Revival With “MPH”

W&V sweethearts MIKNNA are back with another outstanding single. Since dropping their debut “50/50 (Side A),” the enterprising duo have set off on a traversing national tour. Despite a strenuous tour schedule, MIKNNA have still managed to push out three huge singles including “Mona Lisa,” “Cues,” and their latest, “MPH.”

All three singles have received the overwhelming support and attention they deserve. Since forming and dropping “Trinity Ave” together just over a year ago, Mike B and Ken Nana have held themselves to a level of quality unprecedented of such a relatively young group. While MIKNNA as a group are just beginning their career side by side, Mike and Ken benefit from a long history of working together, both professionally and personally. With styles that one wouldn’t initially put together, MIKNNA is a union that few could have predicted, but that continues to impress.

Mike B has proved himself repeatedly capable of handling the R&B funk tone that Nana’s production invites. His strength lies in this flexibility.  “MPH”  is yet another example of Mike’s control over his own voice. From the loose melodies he covers the track with, Mike deftly switches gear and cruises into an uptempo delivery with the ease of the Camaro pictured in the track’s artwork.

Ken Nana brings his own steez to the track just as easily as Mike. His instrumentals speak out in the track in a way that exceeds standard production. The bright synth and guitar lines are as much part of the song as the vocals. MIKNNA is a duo that relies on balance, and the two artists never seem to lose equilibrium.

MIKNNA continue to drop hit after hit. When their tour wraps at the end of the month hopefully there will be more new stuff to come. Until then, vibe out with “MPH” on soundcloud below.

Don Mykel Drops New Single Ahead of EP

Harlem’s bar-heavy lyricist Don Mykel continues to boost interest in his upcoming EP with banger after banger. Infinite is set to drop September 8th, but the Don has had our attention for a few months now. Mykel’s “Return of the Don” and “N.W.O” singles have cemented his voice as one of the most exciting in the already competitive New York scene. Now imminently approaching the release of what could be a huge album for him, Mykel seems more focused than ever.

“Hell On Earth” is something of a departure from what Mykel has shown recently. His lyrical avalanche remains, but gone is the relentless punching style that he brought on “Return of the Don” and “N.W.O.” Instead, he opts for a more calculated and melodic approach, swinging from bar to bar. “Hell On Earth” is the shortest of the three singles and comes off as a much more deliberate track than other two.

All the tracks that we have heard from the Don, however, benefit from his undeniable lyrical ability. Mykel’s game lies not just in his word choice and delivery, but also in his dexterity and ability to shift his emphasis to fit the bar. Where “Hell On Earth” differs from the previous two singles in tone and style, the techniques remain uniquely similar.

To call Don Mykel’s talent raw seems a bit of a disservice to the MC. Mykel combines a mean pen game with a distinctive voice and delivery into a style that feels raw, but is also very precise. We look forward to hearing more from the young artist.

Stream “Hell On Earth” on SoundCloud below and pre-order Infinite here.

Manu Crooks Introduces Himself With Debut ‘mood forever’ EP

Originally from Ghana, Manu Crooks moved to Sydney, Australia shortly before high school where he set about growing his musical career. Faced with the unique set of cultural, linguistic, and mental challenges that come with moving from one continent to another, Manu has come out of his youth as an inventive and exciting talent.

Manu’s ability and drive gained him notoriety, and he quickly became a standout figure in the Australian hip-hop scene. More than just his fellow countrymen began to tune into him; Crooks linked up with Stormzy, YG, and Danny Brown when their tours hit Australia, opening shows and exchanging notes with all of them. With experience, raw energy, and an eye catching single “Ridin’” under his belt, Manu has built up to his debut EP titled mood forever, which is unsurprisingly a hit.

Manu teams up with producers Miracle and DOPAM!NE on the six-track EP. He leads with “Day Ones,” an 808-heavy thank you to his long-time fans. For the quintessential Manu Crooks tune, he combines his impressive lyricism with stellar production and lets the track grow into a life of its own. Fellow Aussie vocalist JOY links up with Manu on “Touchdown,” a slower, more broken down track that bears a different side of Manu and his skill set. The hooks on “Romeo” and “All the Way” are of a quality that few could expect from such a young artist. Manu’s hit single “Ridin’,” a cornerstone of the album, gave listeners a taste of how clean Manu is with musical motifs—mood forever is more convincing evidence of how cold he can be.

The production is a stand out feature on the project. Miracle and DOPAM!NE work well together to create swirling beats that wax and wane, allowing Crooks to weave his vocals within each song. While both the vocals and instrumentals could stand alone, they merge to push each other further. The result is the cohesive and sleek sound that Manu has been cultivating since long before the EP.

Manu is more than capable of letting his bars speak for themselves. Songs like “Under Pressure” feature verses of lyrical onslaught that showcase his pen game. Perhaps as a result of his multilingual background, however, Manu is strongest when he is able to shape his bars with the instrumentals. He has a striking ability to know when to attack the beat and when to lean into it. “Ridin’” is perhaps the most succinct example of this off the EP, but each song makes a different case for Manu’s skill set.

With the hopes of a continent on his shoulders, Manu and his debut delivered in a big way. Already with some big shows and hit songs under his belt, Manu will look at the EP as another success to build on as he continues his grind. Stream mood forever below.

Manu Crook$ Drops Stylish Video For “Ridin'”

Australia’s Manu Crook$ continues his hot streak with the release of a sweet set of visuals to go with hit single “Ridin'”. The young rapper dropped the song earlier in July to accompany his other impressive singles “Everyday” and “Assumptions.” The loosies Crook$ has offered listeners are remarkable. Racking up over a million streams between the tracks, Crook$ never fails to impress with his content. The visuals for “Ridin'” are no exception.

Simplicity is the name of the game for Manu. Much like his musical style, the crux of the video is built on two or three distinct and strong foundations. Crook$ ability speaks for himself; his dexterity in switching flows as well as ability to body his own hooks are what make his music so convincing. Knowing this, it is unsurprising that that Manu opts away from excess in the visuals

The music video revolves around three things: Manu, his girl, and a red corvette. The red-tinged shots pan slowly and subtly, but never dare linger long on any one of the three subjects. The trio gradually come closer together throughout the video, until they finally intertwine at the end.

Crook$ accompanied the video with the announcement of his upcoming EP, mood forever, dropping August 18. Until then, get your Manu fix with the video for “Ridin'”, stream on youtube below.

P-Lo Parties With The Bay In Tour Closer

Touring on the heels of his latest album More Than Anything, Bay Area native P-Lo returned victoriously to San Francisco to play a final show in front of a hometown crowd at the Regency Ballroom. Joined by fellow Bay Area artists Pluto Mars and Rexx Life Raj, P-Lo brought his music home, delivering song after song to a deafening and energetic crowd. The show was a testament to three things: P-Lo’s growth as an artist and performer, his authenticity, and the powerful love that shines between P-Lo and his Bay Area fans.

A founder of the HBK Gang with Iamsu!, P-Lo has always involved his contemporaries in his music wherever and whenever he can. His unique, consistent, and quality level of production has seen him produce for and collaborate with countless other artists in and outside of the Bay. As a result, P-Lo has garnered a distinct level of recognition and respect that was evident at the show. Speaking in a short interlude during his set, Rexx Life Raj, himself a Bay Area centerpiece, had nothing but praise for P-Lo:

You meet a lot of people in the music industry. P-Lo is one of the most genuine and talented people I’ve met. That’s why I fuck with him.

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P-Lo and Rexx Life Raj link up to perform together at the Regency Ballroom, SF.

His fans seemed to agree. Even before P-Lo had touched the stage, his name had been chanted countless times. Entering to deafening cheers and with his all too familiar tag echoing around the Regency, P-Lo dove straight into his More Than Anything lead track, “The One.”

Playing through his new album, P-Lo took time to bring out some oldies to pay service to his fans. Rexx Life Raj emerged again to join him on the Cal-A track “Real One.” Performing just some days after the late Mac Dre’s birthday, P-Lo paused the show to pay tribute to the Bay legend—in his words, an “inspiration”—taking a moment to wild out with the crowd on “Feelin’ Myself.”

Moments like these encapsulate P-Lo’s image as an artist. Grounded, talented, and entertaining, P-Lo has never let his accomplishments eclipse his origins. He is a leading figure in the resurgent Bay Area movement, which he admits “for a second… was pretty dead.” Yet, he is always ready to shine the spotlight on others, whether it is bringing up young artists like Pluto Mars or standing back and letting Rexx Life Raj do his thing.

The concert wrapped after just under an hour and several layers of clothing later with P-Lo playing his smash hit “Put Me On Something”—twice. Fellow HBK man Kool John made an appearance on stage to wild out during the song; no one seemed to want to miss out on partying with each other in the atmosphere that P-Lo and company had created.

P-Lo has been essential to the new Bay scene that so many are enjoying now. As a performer, he is experienced, energetic, and enthusiastic. As a person, he’s just another music fan who loves to have fun with his crew. Friday night at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, P-Lo made countless new friends and went dumb with them all.

Revisit our piece on More Than Anything and stream the album below. Make sure to catch a P-Lo concert as soon as you can.

Don Mykel Marks Emphatic Return With New Single

Harlem’s Don Mykel made his long-awaited return to airwaves with the aptly named single “Return of the Don.” Mykel’s third song of the year, “Return of the Don” picks up the reigns after a three month silence. The track is a lesson on fundamentals for all young artists. Building towards his upcoming project Infinite, Don Mykel gives listeners exactly the content they want with “Return of the Don.”

Don Mykel has been piqued as one of Harlem’s most talented young voices. Any questions as to why are answered by “Return of the Don.” Mykel brings an avalanche of lyricism down over a vintage instrumental. His delivery is immaculate. Mykel’s energy and poise on the mic are a lethal combination. Slowing and speeding his flow at will, he is in impressive control of the bars while maintaining a dense volume and complexity of lyricism.

“Impressive” is the most concise was to sum up Mykel and his latest track. The Don marked a confident return that has certainly earned him new listeners. Check out the song on soundcloud below and stay tuned for more from Don Mykel.

P-Lo Shows Versatility With “More Than Anything”

The Bay Area’s rich musical legacy is sustained by talents that have steadily released content of a reliable and remarkable quality. While artists such as Kehlani have grabbed the spotlight recently, names like P-Lo merit just as much recognition. P-Lo is a familiar figure throughout the Bay Area. The HBK Gang co-founder’s name is littered across the hip-hop industry as a prolific producer. Alongside the aforementioned Kehlani, P-Lo has credits on work from YG, Yo Gotti, and Iamsu! just to name a few. P-Lo has established himself as a hitmaker. However, never one to rest on his laurels, the Pinole native continues to push himself as an artist, recently dropping his solo studio album More Than Anything as evidence of his versatility.

More Than Anything collects 15 tracks that P-Lo describes as coming from real “experiences” and “real places.” In typical fashion, P-Lo recruits various HBK members including Kool John and Iamsu alongside other prominent names such as Rex Life Raj, G-Eazy, and E-40 to help him bring classic Bay sound to the album. Despite being a clear product of the hyphy movement, P-Lo doesn’t let this define his musicality. Songs like “The End” or the titular “More Than Anything” bring a different side of the rapper to light—the more stripped down tracks that see P-Lo solo over the instrumental stand out as new and refreshing. These more meticulously crafted pieces provide nice contrast to the energetic anthems P-Lo has made a name for himself with, and round the album out well.

More Than Anything is showing all the layers I have as a human and artist. I’m a hyphy ball of energy but some people think I’m all slaps – I’m going to show them that I can do more than that.

Produced with the help of Cal-A and Michael Keenan, More Than Anything signals a change in P-Lo’s image. P-Lo is a veteran of the music industry and well-respected on the West Coast. His draw as a producer is evidenced on the album. Songs like “Put Me On Something” show his ability and experience in making hits. More Than Anything goes past this however, demonstrating P-Lo’s willingness to take risks in order to grow as an artist.

P-Lo’s More Than Anything Tour kicked off with a bang and is all set to round up in San Francisco. Catch the tour dates below and stream the full album on soundcloud here.

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Watch Squidnice’s Visuals For “Trap By My Lonely”

New York’s Squidnice brought his hit single to life today in a blue tinted set of visuals. The rapper dropped “Trap By My Lonely” back in 2016, announcing himself as a major threat in the game as the track was picked up by several different national radios. “Trap By My Lonely” that speaks for itself. Squidnice doesn’t attempt shroud himself in mystery, diving headfirst into the song with an infectious hook that weaves in and out in his own voice. The following verses follow the same pattern. Squidnice blends humorous bars with more serious lyrics, creating a song that is unapologetically him.

Authenticity is a big part of Squidnice’s appeal. The rapper has a massive core fan base in his native Staten Island that is beginning to grow throughout the New York area. Squidnice continually pays homage to this community, releasing new content continuously since “Trap By My Lonely” as nods to his supporters. The visuals for “Trap By My Lonely” are no different. Squidnice is certainly not by his lonesome in the video, surrounded by his crew as they bag up xans and roll up together. The visuals encapsulate the song – “Trap By My Lonely”  wraps up Squidnice’s talent and intent in a succinct and impressive piece of work.

Squidnice is set to drop his debut project soon; in another effort to recognize his growing fanbase he is lined up to perform the mixtape live at landmark New York venue SOB’s. Catch the music video for “Trap By My Lonely” below and stay tuned for his album.