Born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York, Hip-hop artist CAL. is heavily influenced by the late and great Big Punisher and has been writing and recording music since the young age of 11 years old. To CAL. music has and always has been a way of expression. As of lately, CAL. has been influencing and inspiring more artists to build on their craft and focus on their creative journeys.
CAL. is on a pursuit to help independent artists network and grow together as a whole. His newly released collaborative album titled 'Strangers' is a partnership album between numerous elite artists across the country. You can find him on every song on this album alongside a creative that he has personally recruited and collaborated with. This is the first installment of a series of similar albums that open up and showcase the artistic versatility of all artists.
The introductory record is titled "Strangers Intro." It clocks in at 22 seconds and features Rick Whalen. This eerie and ominous public service announcement acts as a huge staple setting the tone for what's in store for us. Sending chills down our spine with unnerving laughs, we already know that we're in for a treat.
Carrying from the end of "Strangers Intro," "Halloween Town – CAL. Remix," is the second song we can hear. The fusion between the two fits the theme perfectly. We can hear the smooth and Contemporary R&B sounds of John Concepcion's vocals fill the speakers in a record that has us grooving to the striking harmonies and vocal range displayed. The theme of this song is not as haunting as one would be led to believe. In fact, it's rather honeyed. Hyping up that significant other and wanting to share nothing but sweet loving is the subject of this intoxicating track.
"Spooky" is the third track that we're given. CAL. rides solo on this one and flaunt his captivating rhyme schemes and highly energized lyricism over top of a Hip-hop beat that takes Electronic elements that dip into the Dubstep realm. Flaunting the fact that the moves he makes are in fact, spooky, he drives it home with such a creative mixture. We can't help but bop from side to side for this track, even when the instrumentation drops out at the end and we're left with CAL.'s witty raps until the beat fades back in for an instrumental outro.
"Lookin' to Spend" features the likes of Zacc P and Tinywiings. This slow tempo jam comes in hard with a sizzling bassline and uses its magnetic pull to fully captivate us. The dynamic between the artists on this record is refreshing as we're given a taste of hard-hitting rhymes, soulful singing, and of course, femme power in the emcee department. In a track that has us wanting to go out and spend it all, we love the bars that these creatives come through flexing undeniably.
Next up on 'Strangers' is "Bad One." Focusing attention on that one woman who does it in a major way, this bass-filled beat features the talents of Manuel IV and NatStar. The witty quips that drip off the instrumentation have us fully submerged in the likes of this song. Fast emcee abilities, sharp rhyme schemes, and unmatchable lyricism are all signs of a hit, and it looks like we have one on our hands. The rappers deliver a real rollercoaster of hype on "Bad One."
The sixth record is "My Life." Slowing things down a bit to initiate the production and then coming in hard, this song features Trenton Priest and Ladi Rock as they showcase their undisputable talents. A message that we can all relate to is put across through the rhymes carefully crafted. No matter what, they're doing everything possible in their lives to win, and they won't stop until they do. A forceful collective of artists putting on a lively performance is put forth as this is a track not to skip.
"No Time" conveys the soft and delicate sounds of a Hip-hop song that dips into the Contemporary R&B realm. You can hear the melodies of Tinica Rose, Franklin Richards, and Louie Ville as they shed expressions of not having time to play around in the dating game. They need that romantic relationship to come through for them as they pursue their dreams and build a foundation together. The fusion of all the artists displayed gives "No Time" a striking flair as it breaks up the album in an effortless manner. The harmonies that light up the speakers shine a bright light on this specific song.
"Feelingz"– CAL. Remix" is an animated and rich ballad that carries some Reggae flavors to the production component courtesy of CAL. The sizzling sounds of Young Finess as he expresses his feelings for the significant person on his mind time and time again. His storytelling is painted upon a canvas in such a delicate and powerful manner as he gets his point across while sprinkling his charisma on the piece. This memorable bop has strong trademarks of what makes a hit in this industry.
"Game Time" takes us to the halfway point on 'Strangers.' The instrumentation carries memorable elements as we instantly have our fingers and toes tapping to the beat. This song makes you want to dance. Chris K H is the artist that we can hear featuring on "Game Time," and he brings it! With his smooth like butter cadences and the powerhouse abilities in his delivery, he drives home the message of flaunting what you got by holding his own.
"Get Ya Bag" is a CAL. exclusive. Approaching this song solo, CAL. self-assuredly raps about getting his bag right and having that special someone in his life getting their bag right as well. With the captivating delivery displayed, we are submerged in the confidence that he exudes. Don't be shy on the volume, and make sure to turn up a couple of notches as you roll your windows down and hit the freeway. CAL. is only getting warmed up as he provides us with the simmering rhymes he spits.
Sitting at number eleven, "Deep" comes in featuring the heavenly presence of Lovely Cruz. The instrumentation glimmers upon pressing play. The warm embrace of her vocalization catered to the strength of romantic relationships have you melting on the other side of the speakers. The conveyance of this Contemporary R&B record that she puts forth about being a ride or die is nothing short of outstanding. We are taken into the complexity of what she has to offer in her vocalization by releasing her emotional vulnerability.
"New Day" is home to the heavyweight of featuring artists of Mikyla Cara, JLA, and B. Russ. Certain empowerment is brought across as soon as the music begins playing. A triumphant feel of elevating to the next level and holding all of that power within you to succeed is the main expression. The versatility that these artists bring blend together as they accolade in a manner that flows gracefully. You have a bit of everything in this song, memorable harmonies, alluring rhymes scripted and a drizzle of everyone's personal flair glowing brightly.
Next on the roster is "No Vacation," featuring Wred. This top-notch banger shows you why taking no days off can be the way to go when what you're doing doesn't even feel like work at all. Flexing their lyrical abilities through their verses and CAL.'s talents to make a hook stay in your head until the next morning, this dynamic duo explodes the moment they touch down. You better keep up with Wred, because she is rapping fast and making it count. Her unapologetic personality shines through each word penned, and her performance radiates empowerment.
Track number fourteen is another CAL. Remix. "No Pain – CAL. Remix" puts the brakes on in the tempo department but not in the put in the work department. This record still has you grooving but puts you in your emotions even more. Umraan Syed and Zacc P can be heard giving it their all as they share pieces of themselves with listeners. This expression of wanting to win so badly that you'll work through the pain is one that we can all relate to. The soothing and rapid combination of both artists leaves us in an atmosphere that radiates victory.
"Spiritual – CAL. Remix" features Cruize FX and &RADE. This composition carries elements that allow you to feel lifted just from the music touching down in your headphones. The smooth and ambient energy allows you to get in touch with your spiritual side as you listen to the carefully crafted verses pacing through your mind. These artists make it easy to sit and lay back as they take their passion-driven performances to sound effortless as they glisten in talent. This record emits positivity in every aspect. We're all about those vibes until the end of time.
The second last song that we can hear on 'Strangers' is "At Ease," a collaboration between CAL. and T.J. The enticing instrumentation immerses us in the conscious messaging that is put into rhyme format as we hear a story about there being levels to this industry. At the end of the day, we need to fight for what's right in the justice department and let our voices be heard. A stellar performance from T.J as he weaves through concrete lyricism and ends on a note of saying, "but it's just my thoughts."
The final record on 'Strangers,' is "Paranoia – CAL Remix." You can hear the raspy and confident vocals of ItzGibz flaunting his artistic talents on a hypnotic instrumental. The delivery he offers up has him flowing between cadences, diverse rhyme schemes, and his knack for wordplay. The energy is what stands out the most to us as he switches up the language he performs in from English to Spanish. Can you say multi-talented? The perfect way to end this album on a jaw-dropping note as we fade to the purely instrumental sounds of CAL.
'Strangers' creates a diverse platform for multi-talented artists to get together and get creative. CAL. outdoes himself as he takes it into his own hands to stress this point across. With seventeen songs, the next equally as good as the last, there is something for everyone on this colossal project.
Congratulations on the release of 'Strangers,' and welcome to BuzzMusic, CAL.. With an album that has so much talent on it, how did you even begin to collaborate with all of these artists? Did you know them before reaching out?
For about a year I had this idea of Making a Collaborative Album. I wanted to showcase the talents I came across through my own Artistic Journey. What's incredible, is every artist is from different parts of the world. some I’ve networked and worked with in the past and some are some very dope Artists from my Label HRDRV Records
How long does a project of this caliber take to make? Were you able to be there for any of the other artists' recording sessions?
Strangers took about 6 months to coordinate. Since this was my first Project with multiple artists, determining beat selections, Royalty Splits, and Track Listing I had to make sure everything was in place correctly. The process was very exciting for everyone because everyone gets heard, and that was my main priority. Two Songs were made in One Session.
My Life feat. Ladi Rock & Trenten Priest and No Time Feat. Tinica Rose, Franklin Richards, and Louie Ville. I booked a studio in Brooklyn with great lighting and all the Vibe essentials and had a fun group session. We all had a great time, shout out to Make Life Studio. One Session I helped put together was Lookin’ to Spend. That song worked out on its own. Zacc P being an incredible artist from Orlando, Florida had the idea and reference already. He presented it to Tinywiings which is another very talented artist from Calgary Canada and they both made it a Hit! Shea Michaels mixed and mastered that track for us and we're all proud of how it came out.
What would you like listeners to take away from 'Strangers?' Strangers are for all artists who May feel alone in the Creative Process. We’ve all been there, so I wanted to show artists the power of networking and collaborating. Even tho most artists haven't met personally, Were Strangers with common goals and aspirations. Voices that I deemed to be dope and all I want is for people who listen, to appreciate the grind and determination of each artist.
How do you approach your creative process when putting together a remix? Songs like Feelingz by Young Finess Which happens to be my cousin from Queens New York would present me with his music. I heard the song and I loved it and asked if he would mind adding it to my Strangers project. So for it to work without technical issues, we decided to remix it, I added a verse on it to add to the style he already had on the record and keep the same vibe. We both liked the outcome! Listen to Feelingz on Strangers and tell me what you guys think. Out of all the songs on this album, does one hold more sentimental meaning to you than the rest? For sure, that would have to be a New Day feat. Mikyla Cara from Luton, UK, JLA from Brooklyn, New York, and B.Russ from Richmond, Virginia. New Day is Special to me because it reflects on what every artist is trying to accomplish. As an independent artist relying on solely yourself to get things done can get overwhelming for most. So In New Day, and my featured artists Express gratitude for the passion of making music and letting it be known that you have to do what you love and do things your way. Never stop chasing your dreams and always express yourself as you need to succeed. It's a New Day.