Caleb Steph is important, not the type of fresh buzz, new sound kind of important. But for the sake of countless conversations that need to be held, or when articulation fails the masses, this is where Steph claims his role. Caleb is articulating for the sake of humans who are in pain, who perhaps use violence when words fail them, he’s striving to create the narrative that legitimises environmental experience, speaking for the majority who are constantly denied a voice. The rapper is creating art and music in the hopes that in arriving with clear intentions, operating with transparency, and illuminating stories, he can channel and assist in realisations. Importantly identifying, that realisations lead to healing…
There is so much power in what you are creating, at what point did you realise you needed to externalise all your thoughts and experiences?
It kinda just flowed out, there wasn’t a specific moment where I realised “I have to do this now”, it kinda just flowed that way. It was like, this is what I’m doing, I was going off the energy of the music I was making at that time. It just happened to sound that way, in the time I was making it. I was like, “Oh, this is what it is”. I didn’t try to fight it or create it, it was just very natural, honest and transparent for me.
Your videos are as powerful as your songs, do you believe they support each other as separate pieces of art, or do you feel they form a whole idea of what you are trying to communicate?
It all ties into a bigger picture, the bigger picture will be revealed down the line, but it all ties together. I love music because it’s like a time stamp. Whatever is created in that time, it lives on with you. It always brings you back to when you discovered it. Its like being reborn again every time you listen to the music. So, ideally, I was hoping I could get that across to all the new supporters listening to the music, so they can experience the project, how I experienced all my favourite projects when I first heard about them.
Were there any powerful music videos that filtered down to influence what you wanted to create visually?
It is more about movies to me, than music videos. I love films that have a message in them; that have a point they are trying to get across in the visuals. If I’m going to make a song, I want to have fire visuals behind it to make you feel it. All Spike Lee movies, all Stanley Kubrik movies and all Quentin Tarantino movies, the way the visuals are put together by these Directors, it takes you to another world but also still gives you real life elements in that world that you get brought into. That is very important.
The video you dropped for ‘Black boy’ was almost documentary like. What was the experience like, putting that video together. Using your friends and community to communicate a very real experience?
It was beautiful, I couldn’t have seen it going any better. I wanted everyone from the neighbourhood to be a part of this. I had everyone I needed to avoid any craziness happening, any chaos. I was like “Yo, I would rather just do this with my family and friends”, they know exactly what I’m talking about, that’s all I really need. It was mad cold outside, it was about to snow, and they stuck it out. We were just all in it together. We are all passionate about this, the message in the song, and we all did it together. It was beautiful.
You are focused on telling truths, that is the core backbone of what you are doing, what are those truths? What are you trying to express?
The truths I am going to continue to express throughout my music, is about everything a human could go through, especially as a black man living through the times we are going through. I would like to speak for many people other than myself. I am human, I continue to go through what every other human is going through, so I will continue to shed light and be transparent. Personally, I will always tell my truth, through my truth, I will speak the truths of everyone else. For the voices that may not know how to speak their truths, or communicate it. For people acting out, being violent or confused, who are living their life not knowing how to communicate their truths and the harsh reality that they live. I will continue to do that through my music or my art, whether it is super transparent or super complex.
That is beautiful. If you are in a position where you can find the words to articulate yourself, when other human beings can’t always find them, that is soul healing right there.
Have you ever come across any mistruths in media, that didn’t sit right with you, that you felt needed to be corrected?
I feel like there are lots of mistruths being communicated, but you can always find a truth in it, if that makes sense. From my perspective, I look at everything like, its just not communicated in the way it should be. I do notice a lot of things in media, or just the world, that are portrayed in a way that doesn’t show the full picture. We’ve got to get the full picture, we’ve got to be real in what we are showing, in our intentions. A lot of intentions are causing people to be dishonest about what is going on.
So what conversations do you hope to spark in releasing your project ‘Bellwood Product’?
I put everything into this, so many truths into this, I was really working on it. I wanted it to be a great body of work so that people can take it and live with it. To change a perspective or to allow them to live closer to their own personal truth. Or to spark the conversation, like “yo, I listened to this, it made me feel like this… now my intentions are different… now I want to go about things differently, I wanna talk about truth, I want to learn more about myself”. I wanted to take people to a place where they identified with their own truth, spark a conversation with that. Maybe spark a chain reaction, linking arms.
By Anastasia Bruen