By Nick Sligh
Caleb Parker (better known as Caleborate) has been representing the Bay Area’s modern hip-hop scene and making quality music for multiple years now. Particularly early in his career, he came through with some songs that really caught my eye. “Make Me & Take Me” immediately struck me as a great song and helped me to discover somebody with a vibrant energy and an ear for quality production. With the success of “Bankrobber,” I knew that he was somebody with real potential. Great beats, solid lyricism and lots of personality helped to make his early music enjoyable, and I’ve been following his work ever since.
“Light Hit My Skin” is the fifth full-length project in his discography, most recently following his 2019 mixtape “Hear Me Out” and 2017 LP “Real Person.” He has mentioned that he wants to implement a sound that pushes into various different genres with this one, so it will be interesting to see what directions it ends up going.
Here are my track-by-track reactions and overall initial impressions of “Light Hit My Skin.”
Caleborate: “Light Hit My Skin” (March 26, 2021)
This song has been out for a while, and I am just not the biggest fan of it. The production isn’t engaging, and the delivery feels inspired but slightly off in terms of vocals and fit.
2. “Homecoming” ft. Duckwrth
The production on this song is quality, incorporating a heavy rock influence in the production. The Duckwrth feature is very well-placed and the highlight of the song, showcasing Duckwrth’s versatility to fit any style of music. Unfortunately, Caleborate’s verse and chorus sound really bad. The vocals are rough, and the punk-rock sound that he is trying to replicate feels awfully forced. Thankfully, the aspects outside of Caleb’s performance (the production and Duckwrth’s feature) heavily redeem the song.
3. “Pull Up”
Unfortunately, this track is boring. The chorus, vocals, verses and melodies are not captivating, making this one very forgettable. A mediocre performance meets a generic beat to bring the quality back down on the third track.
4. “We Make” ft. Samaria
“We Make” brings up the quality of the album so far. The production is simple but fits Caleb’s rapping better than previous songs, and the soulful chorus from Samaria helps to make this one feel like a song that is much better suited for Caleborate’s style.
5. “LIGHT 001”
The first of 3 “Light” interludes. Nothing too consequential here.
6. “Enemies on My Side” ft. redveil
This one starts off strong, with a fitting first verse by Caleborate. The redveil feature was a little underwhelming, especially given how much more I was expecting from him as one of the promising up-and-coming rappers. Caleb comes back on the beat for a great, hard-hitting last verse to close out the song.
7. “Contact” ft. Kota the Friend
A single released in the weeks leading up to the album, I already knew that this collaboration with Kota was impressive. The production is very simple but nice, and allows impressive and heartfelt verses from Caleb and Kota to highlight the song.
8. “LIGHT 002”
9. “Mud” ft. Deante’ Hitchcock, Cantrell
This song feels like it’s lacking something, despite a solid feature verse from Cantrell and nothing particularly bad about the track. It doesn’t captivate me like I would have expected it to.
10. “The Game”
This one feels over-produced, and all of the hectic background noise is a bit distracting and unenjoyable. The odd production drowns out the verses and chorus, unfortunately, and makes this a below-average song.
11. “No Place 2 Go”
I appreciate Caleborate trying to be more adventurous and bold with his vocal deliveries, but this is another case where the vocals sound forced, leading to a bad song.
12. “LIGHT 003” ft. Cash Campain
Third interlude. This one incorporates a nice and simple vocal performance from Cash Campain.
13. “What U Want”
A pretty generic and boring pop-rap sound is consistent throughout. The sound, structure and chorus are highly unoriginal and make this one of the least enjoyable songs.
14. “Untitled (Hit Record)”
A nice twist in production and sound. The penultimate song brings in a lo-fi approach with a nice horn incorporated into the production. The style is incredibly relaxed, and this love song makes for one of the better songs of the album with the soothing production and quality performance from Caleborate.
15. “The Madness” ft. Tone Sinatra
To close out the album, “The Madness” comes in with very upbeat production and a sped-up delivery from Caleb. A decent beat is met with a fun and energetic performance from Caleborate, but an unfortunately forgettable feature from Tone Sinatra.
Overall, I am a little underwhelmed and was hoping for more from Caleborate. While there are a few good songs, a decent portion of the record sounds fairly uninspired. Although I respect the attempt at some of the bold changes in vocal delivery and style, I thought that the execution fell flat in many places, ranging anywhere from not enjoyable to just plain bad at times. I was hoping for this to be a breakthrough album from Caleborate that would help him grow his popularity and acclaim as an artist, but I unfortunately don’t see that happening.
Favorite Songs: “Untitled (Hit Record),” “Contact,” “Enemies on My Side,” “We Make”
Album Score: 55/100
Contact Nick Sligh at nsligh ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.