Caleb Lombard debuts an immersive new track.
I had the pleasure of attending the World Underground Festival back in August of 2018 on the day of their battle rap competition. While a bit disappointed at the structure of the event and how it dictated some of the artists’ approaches focusing more so on crowd energy than actual lyrical sparring, there was one nice takeaway: Caleb Lombard who traveled all the way from California to compete for the grand prize.
While he suffered an unfortunate first-round exit, I saw something in his stage presence and content that made me believe this loss wouldn’t derail him in any way. If anything, it did exactly what the title of his new album is – Set Apart. When you’re speaking from the heart, people can feel it. That’s something that stuck with me as he performed his older track “Go Shine” and was reiterated as I listened to this eight-track album. For those who follow the 25-year-old on Instagram, you know he spent the time leading up to the project giving brief descriptions of each songs’ concept, as well as a promotional video talking about the inspiration he drew from his late mother.
The rollout set the stage for a strong, commanding lyrical performance addressing God, his internal struggles, his perception of himself, but also showing he’s a true student of the game with a love for all aspects of it. My personal standouts are “Want That Funk,” “100”, “Been Doin'” and “I Need Somethin'” which is ridiculous for me to say I suppose as that’s half of the album. Don’t think for a second that means the other songs are inferior or didn’t do anything for me.
Lombard’s strength is his range. He can do the introspective backpack rap like on opener “I Need Somethin'” and then tap into old school West Coast vibes on “Pump Ya Breaks.” “Drip” is a fun, bouncy cut that is still very lyrical rap but can simultaneously function smoothly in a party of kickback. “A 1980’s Slasher” pays homage to all of the classic horror films and displays how creative he can be. “100” is a gut punch, and a strong reminder to focus on yourself. Even if you wanna help others, you can’t push them to win if you ain’t right within. “It ain’t 100 if I can’t keep it with myself.”
“Want That Funk” deserves its own paragraph. This is the type of song I can see my father two-stepping to and he almost never dances. The way Caleb’s diction and accents change over the course of the song make it a competition between whether you want to focus more on his verses or the nostalgic beat bumping in the background. What a way to close a project too. Funky.
Maturity simultaneously emanates from this project. Lombard has spoken about how he was working on the album for over a year and often dealt with self-doubt about ever releasing it. With that, came consistent effort and fine tuning but also shows true respect for the craft. Rather than rushing out “Drip” which for sure could and would make waves, he sat back patiently and let the right moment come. Now, we have eight slappers to enjoy. The question is, which will get the visual?
Check out Set Apart below and salute to Caleb Lombard for being an example of patience, faith, and commitment.