Caleborate makes Cornerstone feel like upbeat kickback

Nicholas Chun/Staff

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Kickback-like in atmosphere, Berkeley’s Cornerstone Craft Beer and Live Music was packed with youths ranging in age from teens to mid-20s Thursday night. Wearing ‘90s-inspired flannels, mom jeans and beanies, each member of the audience eagerly waited for Bay Area rapper Caleborate to hit the stage — the venue was at once energetic and intimately comfortable.

Caleborate kicked off “The Real Person Tour” with a spirited performance — showing off his potential and oozing “soul” with each lyrical outburst.

Clad in a simple yet on-brand outfit — his signature beanie, sweatshirt, shorts and athletic shoes — Caleborate casually strolled onto the dimly lit stage as if it wasn’t his first time performing at the venue. Opening the show with “Caught Up,” he set the tone for the night as one that would emphasize honesty — one where he’d share his most vulnerable thoughts and open up to audience members like close friends. Rather than celebrating his success thus far, he reflects as he raps, “I wanna do better, and I’m tryin’, I’m caught up”

And that defines Caleborate’s style. There’s no elaborate, smoke-machine-filled entrance or fancy stage wardrobe for his concert. The rapper instead chose to be true to himself — beginning his show on a personal, intimate note.  This airy yet unified atmosphere persisted throughout the night — friends and fans both old and new sang along to every lyric.

Despite the rapper’s endearing sincerity, the night quickly became a party when the tune of his hit single “Soul” began to faintly play in the background. The crowd’s cheers became so loud that the artist struggled to get a word in, though he asked, “Can we turn up a li’l?” Once Caleborate ripped into the song, the crowd followed his lead. The night’s mood instantly shifted from calm and engaged to upbeat and undeniably fully alive.

In the midst of the show, the rapper paused to give a shoutout to his family and friends in the audience. He also brought his older brother Cash Campain — one of the show’s openers — back on the stage to perform “Holy Matrimony” together. The brotherly love translated in Caleborate’s interactions with the crowd, all becoming interwoven in the onstage family dynamic. Whether his mother, friend, cousin or ride-or-die fan, each member of the audience had one thing in common — they were all there to support the rising Berkeley-based rapper as he performed in his hometown.

What stuck out most from the show, however, was Caleborate’s genuine passion and love for his craft. For the entirety of his performance, he energetically bounced across the stage, wearing an infectious grin as he hyped up the crowd. In between songs, he interacted with his audience by crouching down to individually sing to a number of his fans — leaving each starstruck and unable to meet his eye with every singularized performance.

Caleborate wasn’t afraid to get serious. Unintimidated by the threat of losing the crowd’s energy — or perhaps trusting the audience to keep the concert alive no matter the tempo — he performed a number of quieter, more heartfelt numbers such as “4 Willem” and “Real Person.”

Yet he refused to end the night on a somber note. As though he wished to reward the audience’s energy, Caleborate jumped off stage into fans’ arms during “Bankrobber,” his show’s encore. In this moment, the rapper was just another “real person,” vibing, dancing and laughing with his pals.

It’s no question that his artistry is a reflection of his performance that night — one that focuses on uplifting others, sending good vibes and, most importantly, having a dope time.

Contact Preya Gill at [email protected].