Chosen for Mixtape of The Week by Stereogum for The Jones.
“Triple-threat talent” – DJ Booth
“With production that sounds like a throwback to the late-90s pop-rap era, The Jones shows a promising tape with a sound that dips outside of the expected template.” – Complex Music
It’s easy to do a little time-traveling when listening to the music of Chicago’s Caleb James. One of many buzzing artists from hip hop’s midwest mecca, Caleb channels a previous sound and vibe that cleverly pays homage to rap’s heyday of the 90’s and early 2000’s. It was a time when shiny suits, polished production, and slick wordplay captivated the world, and ushered in artists that to this day remain at the top of rap’s throne.Read more
“It’s throwback shit, but it’s turn up,” Caleb says about his recently released sophomore mixtape, The Jones. Playing on the styles and aesthetics he observed as a fly on the wall and off hours producer at his father’s studio, Caleb crafted a project that stands with one foot squarely planted in 2013, and the other somewhere around 1996.
Caleb grew up all over the city of Chicago, born in Evanston and raised in neighborhoods in the south side, south suburbs, and also downtown. Caleb’s dad is producer Steve “Stone” Huff, who managed and then purchased Jive‘s Chicago recording studio. It was there that Caleb saw the music world first hand, and discovered that a career in music wasn’t just a pipe dream, but a real option. Caleb’s true potential appeared when his dad let him mess around in the studio during down time. It was at 16 that Caleb taught himself how to make beats, emulating his favorite artists such as R. Kelly, Jay-Z, and Cash Money.
“That’s all I did as a kid,” Caleb says about this fascination with hip hop music. “I didn’t watch the Disney channel. I watched BET & MTV, things like that because I was just like, ‘rapper. Rapper. Rapper. I want to be a rapper.’ I’ve never wanted to do anything else in life other than be a musician.”
Caleb released his first mixtape, Ground Up, in 2012. The project was somewhat of a hodge podge of fun and feel good records that Caleb crafted during studio sessions over the previous year in which he experimented with other Chicago producers. The project grew organically, as Caleb became to garner a buzz as part of Chicago’s SaveMoney collective, which also includes Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper. Caleb stood out on posse cuts and live shows, and was soon able to grow a solid following that begged him to release a formal project.
Building on the foundation set by Ground Up, Caleb returned to the studio with a narrow focus and began work on The Jones. Caleb set a goal to create a project that gave listeners a vintage-feel-good vibe, yet captured the current urgency & energy of 2013. The result was a release that has been hailed by many, including Chicago’s FakeShoreDrive, as one of the year’s best. “I just like that sound,” Caleb explains. “I just want my music to be everything that I saw on TV when I was a shorty.”
Attempting to reinterpreting rap’s golden era can be difficult, and in some cases, come off corny. Caleb James has earned the respect and props of older hip hop heads and young fans alike because he is able to come from an authentic space with well-executed music.
So while his records may include throwback themes, it is clearly to see that Caleb is not an artist that has next, but an artist that has now.
MP3: Save Money’s Caleb James Featured On Erik Hassle’s “Pathetic” Remix
Chicago Artist Goes From Singing On A Gold Record At Age 10 To Forming SaveMoney Alongside Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa
SaveMoney’s Caleb James Talks “Honesty and Loyalty” On New Single, Premiere via MissInfo
SPIN Premieres Blistering Video for Track From Upcoming The Jones 2.0 Mixtape
Caleb James Premieres New Track Off “The Jones 2.0,” Out In February
Chicago’s Caleb James Documents Performance From CMJ AllHipHop Showcase
Caleb James To Play AllHipHop Showcase In NYC Tomorrow At SOBs