“A lot of people my age are a caught up in a rat race of doing the most for a couple clicks, and that’s never been my goal….
I want to make the best product that I possibly can, I want to be the best artist and performer that I possibly can, and I want to be the best human being that I possibly can.” – Kaleb Mitchell
With over 2.8 million streams on Soundcloud, it’s a no brainier that adding Kaleb Mitchell to your playlists is a must. The New Jersey born and raised singer and rapper found his passion for music at an early age. When he was only five years old, Kaleb began playing the piano by ear. He had already decided he wanted to be a rapper at the age of 8 after watching the legendary battle scene in the film, 8 Mile.
Kaleb Mitchell is the epitome of versatility. If you were wondering what his sound is like, each song is a mood in itself. You can expect to hear rap, laid-back R&B sounds, and little alternative, but overall–his music is a vibe. With the cliche radio sounds we hear on a daily basis, finding artists like Kaleb is a breath of fresh air.
In 2018, Kaleb released the mixtape, NINESEVENTTHREE, and is one of his most popular releases. The project features Asaiah Ziv, Aaron Cole, and Drew Famous. Personally, my favorite tracks are “Sleepwalking”, “NineSevenThree”, “Forreal” and “Light.” The whole mixtape is gold, I can literally listen to it over and over again whether in a car, work, or at home.
Inside The Lyrics
In the song “Light,” what stood out the most was the hook: “I’m just tryna glow/ They was tryna dim my light/ So I had to to let em go/ I’m not the one to play games with / Just to let you know / And I’ma make it happen
And I put that on my soul.” In the same vein, most of his projects sends positive messages like this which sets him apart from other artists even more.
As I listen to this song in particular, I became even more in awe with him as an artist as a whole. His motivational lyrics inside his work reminds me of him just writing in his journal, reflecting, and bringing into life through music. The surprise appearances and alternative sounds gives his songs an edgy feel for it making you more curious to what Kaleb will release next.
Listen to his single, “Light” here:
Between 2015 and 2016, Kaleb released two mixtapes, Soliloquy and 45 and gained lots of attention since. One of my favorite singles is “18,” as the lyrics inside proves that he is no follower, but a leader of his generation. “I been overlooked and underestimated for too long/ I’m the rapper that your favorite rapper probably stealin’ from/ Teacher said I would be nothin’ / Hmm, I bet I prove her wrong.”
This song speaks to the everyday person like myself who fights their battles whether big or small all while trying to not care what someone thinks of you. It also shows how confident he is in his work, and makes me want to hear him freestyle or battle with any rapper at this point. I’m more than certain Kaleb won’t disappoint. On top of that, the beats, melodic raps, and overall production in his work is beyond today’s music.
Kaleb is definitely before his time with this song, “18,” listen to it here:
Successively peaking at #7, So Help Me God entered the iTunes Hip Hop/Rap charts in 2017. Additionally, within the same year, Kaleb started BENCHWRMRS, a fan club and independent record label/publishing company. In 2018, his project titled Mitchell entered the iTunes Hip Hop/Rap charts at #15, and in it’s first week in accumulated over 200,000 streams according to Spotify.
Kaleb Mitchell continues to uplift his listeners through powerful messages and gravitating beats inside his music. You easily can connect to his laid-back but blunt personality while head-nodding, rapping, or singing along to his songs.
He recently dropped his new single, “Stuck On You” which is available everywhere:
But besides music, let’s get to know Kaleb even more…
Beyond The Music
Mashari: So, I love your artwork for your songs…How do you come up with the creative direction for it?
Kaleb: My good friend Kevin Hackett (graphic designer, musical artist) does all of my album covers. Either I come up with a rough concept, present it to him and we go from there, or he hits me with a rough draft already done and we tweak it until it’s perfect. We’ve been working together since 2016.
Mashari: When did you know you wanted to create music? (which age you started performing, experiences/accomplishments, etc.)
I’ve known that I wanted to create music since I was eight years old. I’ve been playing the piano by ear since I was about five, and when I turned eight I watched the movie 8 Mile for the first time. For some reason the rap battle scenes made me wanna pick up the pen, although I was already in love with Hip Hop and R&B at that time because of my older brother. He put me on to albums like Late Registration when I was super young, and I was fascinated with the genre.
I was also the biggest Michael Jackson fan on planet earth at the time. The glove, the hat, the shoes, you name it, I had it. Human Nature is still one of the greatest songs ever in my eyes. I performed publicly for the first time when I was 13 years old. I had entered this local talent show at the last minute, and ended up winning it all haha. Going into the performance I was terrified; I really didn’t know how the people would respond, but when I saw everyone get out of their seats and start dancing, I knew then that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Mashari: Do you have any favorite tracks that you had fun with the most on NINEEVENTSTHREE or MITCHELL and why?
Kaleb: “OUT THE MUD” off of my mixtape “MITCHELL” was probably the most fun I’ve ever had while making a record. It was literally a non-serious, one take rough draft that I decided to polish up and re record for the project. If you listen closely, the last hook on that record is slightly different from the rest of my vocals on that track. That’s because I decided to throw in the original rough draft vocals where I was laughing to close out the song. It was fun to not have to focus on a serious topic for once and just get ignorant hahaha.
Mashari: What are you inspired by and how do you feel it has helped you develop your musical style?
Kaleb: I’m inspired by my surroundings. My family, my friends, my life experiences, things that happen on a day to day basis. I really only talk about what I’ve seen and dealt with first hand. It’s one hundred percent molded the way I approach making records because I love having storytelling in my music. Whether it’s obvious to the listener that I’m telling you a story or not, there’s always a story being told.
Mashari: Besides music, what projects have you been working on that you are proud of?
Kaleb: Besides music, working on myself has been something that I’m extremely proud of. For a long time I was in a very bad place mentally, and constantly working to try to better myself as a whole has been the most rewarding process ever. Not that I don’t have bad days just like every other human on this earth, but I’ve learned how to not let things consume me like I used to. It’s very easy to slip into a state of depression, and it’s very hard to climb out of it. Some never make it out. Salute to everyone that’s fighting for their mental health, don’t give up.
Mashari: Who are your Top 3 favorite artists and pick a song from each of them that influenced your taste in music?
Kaleb: My top 3 favorite artists would have to be Jay Z, Michael Jackson, and Kanye West. I would roam around my neighborhood playing Jay’s entire “Black Album” on a Walkman when I was a kid. Honestly listening to how he blended different flows taught me how to rap. “What More Can I Say” is probably my personal favorite off of that record. As for MJ, as I mentioned before, “Human Nature” is so incredible to me. The chord progression on that record stopped me dead in my tracks the first time I heard it. I used to play his records on repeat and try to mimic him to learn how to sing hahaha.
“Say You Will” is the best song Kanye ever created in my eyes. Listening to 808s & Heartbreak for the first time changed my perspective on genres and what one person can accomplish as an artist. He wasn’t afraid to take risks, and like it or not he changed the course of Hip Hop forever.
Mashari: If you could collaborate with a Rapper or any artist on your next project, who would it be?
Kaleb: If I could work with anyone on an upcoming project, it would hands down be Jon Bellion. As a songwriter, as a producer, and as a vocalist the man is a different breed. Plus, he can out rap a whole lot of people that literally do just that; all while being a pop act himself.
Mashari: Who are your Top 3 favorite films and could you see your music being played in it? If so, which song/scenes?
Kaleb: In no order, my top 3 favorite films are Freedom Writers, The Dark Knight, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Super weird list I know.
I actually made my song “Bruce Wayne” after watching The Dark Knight for like the hundredth time. I was literally sitting on the couch and started mumbling “yeah, on my Bruce Wayne” and the rest is history. My record “JACK SKELLINGTON” is clearly inspired by The Nightmare Before Christmas. The character Jack Skellington himself wasn’t necessarily a villain, but he had a strange way of trying to do the right things, as we as humans can all relate too. Freedom Writers is one of my favorite movies ever because I was able to relate heavily to most of the characters in the film. I could definitely see a record like “Halfway There” being played towards the end credits of the film, just because of the content of the song and its message of never giving up.
Mashari: What sets you apart from most artists?
Kaleb: I think what sets me apart from most artists today is the fact that I’m not here to be another flash in the pan. I don’t really care about trying to compete with the newest hottest fads, because trends die just as quickly as they begin. I’m not really concerned with internet stunts for publicity because in 500 years literally no one will care. A lot of people my age are a caught up in a rat race of doing the most for a couple clicks, and that’s never been my goal. I want to make the best product that I possibly can, I want to be the best artist and performer that I possibly can, and I want to be the best human being that I possibly can. All that other bs has NONE of my attention.
Written By: Mashari Grissom|@girlfromharlem