It’s easy to know who the best-sellers are. They’re everywhere – almost annoyingly inescapable. They have the money, but usually without the magic that makes someone memorable. What means more to me is when somebody says to me, “Hey – have you heard about this artist?” Artists with the ability to create anunbelievable underground buzz are more likely to make my music list, and one such artist is Caliba.
Born the fifth of eight children, Caliba crossed the country as a kid, moving often and finding friends few and far between. Eventually he found a friend that, despite the distance, he never fled: hip hop. At twelve he picked up a pen and began performing. Since, his smooth sound and sincerity have not been overlooked, and people are starting to take notice.
In an industry where rappers are perceived as pretty boys and make pop music, Caliba is self-proclaimed as “just what the streets need” in his song “Caliba Anthem.” Remember when there was passion, pain, power and rap was for the people, and not packaged, predictable and for profit? Caliba is funny and has flow. “We aint in the old school or the new school – we was them dropouts that just learned,” we hear in the beginning of his song “Hip Hop 101” feauturing CTraffik. “Everybody trying to spit a million dollar message, well I’m gonna hit you with a hundred million dollar question,” he continues, not only asking questions but also educating people, proving he understands the past of his predilection. With his new single, “Mr. Satisfaction,” one thing is clear: Caliba is not a formula – he is the answer.
Sara Fincham: You started at 12 — what got you into it, or is the better question who?
Caliba: I used to watch The Jetsons and all the jobs in the future were taken by robots except 1 – a rock star! So, I figured as long as teenage girls exist I will have a career. My first hip hop concert was Run DMC. When I saw them command the crowd and how nuts everyone acted I was hooked.
SF: Doing something like this, when you start out and decide this is what you want to do your failure or success rests solely on your shoulders — do you like that pressure, those chances — is it even pressure, and how do you define success?
Caliba: I love pressure because it molds you. For me it’s not the success, it’s the journey. Once I’m successful at something I get bored and want to do something else — that’s why I’m always traveling and coming up with new ideas for my MUSIC.
SF: What do you think, if anything needs to change about industry, about music, and how do you intend to do so?
Caliba: It should go back to the times when being original was a good thing. The politics should change a lot! By being myself I feel if people want to follow trends follow mine I’ll teach you that being yourself is the best style cause ain’t nobody better at being me than me.
SF: Conflict — have you had any, do you intend to, and how do you handle it? Do you call people out?
Caliba: Oh yeah, plenty! Hip hop was started in conflict. MC battling is conflict, but I think it should just stay on wax. Unless someone talks about my momma or kids then that’s something different. It depends on how someone calls me out, but I feel you should pick your battles wisely. Yes a guy was using my name so I had to treat him like Thanksgiving and serve the turkey!
SF: I noticed on your website you have a “Featured Fan” section. That impressed me. Do you have any particular memories of say your first fan, outside of friends, or just remember any compliments a particular fan has ever given you?
Caliba: Yes, a kid came to me at a car show performance and said, “I want to be you when I grow up.” That really touched me. That’s why I put the featured fan section there to show my fans I appreciate the love!
SF: You’ve had some good collaborations – Snoop Dogg and Pit Bull – how did those come about, and who would you like to work with in the future?
Caliba: My old dj worked with Knoctornal. It was his record. He got Snoop on the record. We worked with Pit early in his career. We both was hustlin’ our product and have a mutual respect for each other. I would love to work with Ice Cube, E 40 and Jill Scott. As far as producers go — Dr. Dre, Timbaland and whoever has a
distinctive sound. I love working with creative people and everyone I mention in their own right made an impact in the game and that’s my goal.