Disclaimer: All views presented in this review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
In July of 2015, Kaleb Mitchell turned a lot of heads in Christian Hip-Hop when he released his first record, Soliloquy. The 17-year-old made an impact in part because of his age, and also due to his undeniable talent. That record received critical acclaim and it put him on Rapzilla’s Freshman 2016 list. As his star rises, Kaleb Mitchell is back with his new free record entitled, 45.
If you aren’t that familiar with Kaleb Mitchell’s work, then this is a good introcuctory record for you. 45 displays the wide range of Kaleb’s abilities, as there is a lot of versatility on this record. He experiments with some different sounds and song styles. This helps gives the listener a full and rich listening experience. That is what makes 45 such a good record and it is also why this is a record every CHH fan should download.
The record opens up with an interesting introduction that briefly explains Michael Jordan’s retirement and return. It moves into a hard hitting display of lyricism. The hard bass and crazy wordplay gives this record a proper introduction. You get a lot of what Kaleb Mitchell is about, wrapped up in one track. There are metaphors, strong punchlines and a lot of confidence. Secondly, Kaleb’s charisma oozes out of the speakers when he switches his flow and picks up the tempo at the end of the track. It is the perfect introduction.
We then move into the Ki’Shon Furlow assisted, “Whatchu Mean.” This carries the same feeling and sound of the intro. There are a lot of punchlines and wordplay on this track. Both artists give great performances, which allows this track to have a lot of playback value. This track also gives you an insight on how Kaleb incorporates Christ into his rhymes. Everything is run through an obvious Christian worldview, but he is also not ashamed of mentioning Christ. All throughout 45 this is how it is handeled. It is good positive music that cannot be mistaken for anything other than what it is – Christian.
From “Whatchu Mean” we go into the first of two “freestyles” (even though they were written). “Free Throw Pt. 1” has Kaleb just rapping for about a minute and a half with no hook. This is a classic style track that is featured on mixtapes. This gives the entire record a gritty, mixtape feel. It also separates it from a lot of other records currently out, because this isn’t as common anymore. More importantly, you get to hear all of Kaleb’s incredible talent on the mic. “Switch Up” featuring Levi Hinson gives you an insight on his maturity as an artist and creativity. He starts the track by rapping almost accapella for a few bars. This throws the listener off at first, but when the beat drops, you immediately nod your head. It’s also a switch up because it’s a slower tempo than the rest of the record up to this point. It features a layered hook and a beat that has several drops throughout it. Overall, it is a dope track that gives you a different Kaleb Mitchell than “Free Throw Pt. 1.”
Following “Switch Up” is “Voicemail,” which is an interlude that is poorly placed. It doesn’t seem to serve much, other than to give the listener a break. 45 continues into “SOS” featuring Sam Stan, which is another great showing of the versatility Kaleb has. The smooth and soulful hook that simply laments, “Oh Lord, I need your help,” sets this song up beautifully – both music wise and message wise. The tempo on this track never really picks up and that’s a good thing. This is a soulful track from start to finish and it is placed perfectly in the middle of this record. Kaleb transitions to “Free Throw Pt. II,” which will be the highlight of the record for a lot of fans. This gives a similar feel to Part 1, but the bars are better. This is a top notch lyrical display from Kaleb. He closes out the track with:
“Funny how nobody tryin to help you on your mission
but as soon as you get some bread you attracting all of the pidgeons
I’m on my Wyclef, I came to settle the score
So tell me how you want it falsetto or metaphor”
As hard as it is to follow that up, Kaleb gives you “No Pressure, All Good” featuring Adrian Stresow as that follow up. It is a great track to show more versatility. It starts as a hard hitting track, then transitions into an uptempo popish sounding track. There are a lot of different sounds, autotune, and a different flow from Kaleb. Some will love this song because it is well done, but others will skip it because it is very different from anything else on this record. 45 then moves into its precieved end entitled “Outro,” that features another interesting introduction, with a quote from Kanye West. It resembles the intro because the beat hits hard and Kaleb just raps for a few minutes. This track serves another purpose because Kaleb is rapping about why he is rapping. He gives his motiviations and purpose as a rapper. It would have been a strong and perfect way to end a great record.
However, this isn’t how the record ends. He adds 3 bonus tracks to the end of this record. Close followers of Kaleb Mitchell may have heard of some of these tracks because they were released before 45. The first of the three is “Goliath.” This is a real dope track that hits hard and gives a bit of a turn up vibe. This track would have fit real well on 45 and does well for the record as a bonus. However, “Talk to You,” – the second of the three – does not. It is a slow tempoed song that features Kaleb singing with clear help from the production team. It doesn’t fit the record and overall just doesn’t sound that great. This is where Kaleb’s creativity got away from him and the record would have done better without this track. The record actual ends with “End of the Earth” which gives similar vibes as the previous track. The beat is dope and hits hard with the bass but the singing is bad and hard to understand. This record is better off without this song also.
Overall, Kaleb Mitchell has given a great record. 45 has an underground/mixtape type feel to it. That gives it a little personality and also makes it incredibly easy to listen to. This record is why Kaleb Mitchell needs to be on everybody’s radar. He is a bright young star in Christian hip hop. He is filled with talent and charisma. He makes good songs that are fun to listen to, and 45 is evidence of that. Not only should Kaleb Mitchell he be on your radar, he should be on your iTunes playlist.