Repping his own swag, Caleborate waltzed out onto the Cornerstone stage last night like it was home. And, in a sense, it was. The Sacramento-born hip-hop artist spent most of his adult life in Berkeley. It’s where he launched his music career. “It shaped me into the individual I am today,” he said with gratitude.
It felt like a fitting place for the rising talent to headline his first Noise Pop show, and fans — including a remarkably large contingent from Modesto — came out in droves. His set dug into his archive while emphasizing his new record, Real Person, which dropped last year. Real Person is Caleborate at his most vulnerable — his divorced parents, career struggles, and Donald Trump-inflected woes are all on display.
Still, the night was definitely a party. He bounced across the stage to his signature, ’90s-influenced soundscapes with triumphant glee. “Soul,” in particular, brought unmatched energy.
About half-way through, the rapper gave a shout-out to all his family members in the room — his mom, cousin, aunt, uncle, sister — before bringing out his brother, R&B singer Cash Campain, for a short interlude. It was a sweet, generous moment, given Cash already performed a set earlier in the evening, with Cash singing his latest single “Holy Matrimony” and Caleborate contributing a clever verse. But Caleborate’s set was full of similarly sweet, appreciative moments. After leading the crowd in a sing-along to “4 Willem,” perhaps the most personal, somber, and gripping track off the new album, he gazed out in awe.
“That felt like when I’d watch documentaries of my favorite emcees,” he said. “I feel like I just did something like that.”