In the past couple of years, Berkeley rapper Caleborate has had quite the rise. He’s quickly gone from being a virtually unknown YouTube rapper who opened shows on UC Berkeley’s Lower Sproul Plaza to touring Europe and holding his own early-evening spot in Outside Lands’ Friday lineup. Seeing him onstage as he bounced around in his signature fluorescent-orange beanie, it was easy to tell why.
Caleborate was a dynamic force. He moved between bars entrenched in pop culture references that drew laughs of recognition from the crowd and dreamy boom-bap funk reminiscent of Anderson .Paak. He moved on and off the stage effortlessly, hyping up the crowd from every possible vantage point. During “SMH,” he moved along the barrier, making his way right to his fans and playing a one-on-one game of call and response during the chorus.
Nothing could stop him from putting on a good show, and he used every prop and every ounce of energy at his disposal.
“I want to perform the shit out of this song,” he said as he called for a mic stand for “Consequences.”
The crowd went wild, of course, rapping along to every word and putting its all into the chorus. Impassioned cries of “I just wanna chill, smoke, drink and be cool” flowed freely through Golden Gate Park’s Hellman Hollow.
By the time Caleborate ended his set with “Bankrobber,” a track from his latest album, old and new fans were loosened up and attuned to Caleborate’s underdog charm, bopping along without hesitation. Sweat dripped from his face, but the rapper was unphased, simply putting his beanie aside for the time being. Middle fingers flew into the air in preparation for the song’s second verse: “First off, fuck Donald Trump, I don’t care, he’s not my president,” Caleborate rapped. Hands flew higher for the rapper’s jubilant last hurrah.
Playing to a crowd of friends, die-hard fans — of which the rapper already has plenty — and even his mom, Caleborate’s set was all love.
“This is probably the first time I’ve been around this many people exclusively for me,” he told the crowd. “This is crazy.”