Caleb Brown’s Psych Ward Stint Moved Him to Open Up on ‘Brown’ EP
Baton Rouge, La.'s Caleb Brown has had quite the year. With three introspective projects under his belt in 2018 alone—including his latest EP, Brown—the 19-year-old rhymer is on a mission to show those going through dark times that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Brown found his after a nearly week-long stint in an acute psych ward earlier this year.
"It was just a little tricky situation that happened. I just kinda felt burnt-out at the time," he tells XXL. "A person of interest had recently went through a situation so I wasn’t able to even get to them, and that was usually my go-to person who I speak with or whatever. I just kinda burnt-out at the end so I was up in there for like, three, four days."
Brown's time in the center loosely inspired his video for "Bleublk," which also features Maryland spitter Idk. In the Juwan Lee-directed visual, Caleb and Idk are patients in a disquieting psychiatric hospital, one that he admits is rather unrealistic. "For those against the visual because it’s not accurate—I understand and I apologize for putting that kind of graphic out there in such a stereotypical way, ’cause that wasn’t cool."
According to the rapper behind "Die a Legend," "BatonStan Pt. 3" and "Hangin'," being in a windowless psych ward room made him feel trapped. "They talk to you like you’re slow, low-key, and it’s like, 'I understand everything you’re saying. There’s clearly nothing wrong with me'—but they treat you like that. They make people feel crazier than they actually are."
Caleb Brown's new experiences propelled him to rise above rapping "about surface-level shit," on Brown, opting instead to open up about his upbringing and newly learned life lessons. The EP, produced entirely by Atlanta's own Sonny Digital, serves as Caleb's therapeutic outlet as he tackles failed relationships and his troubled upbringing between Baton Rouge and Atlanta.
Brown, who is big on mental health awareness, also wants the project to help others going through similar struggles. "It’s okay to be fucked up," he reasons. "We all fucked up; just don’t use that as an excuse to stay fucked up ’cause kids [are] fucked up and it’s dangerous, and it’s taking a lot of their lives. And who’s better to speak about how fucked up kids are than me? You know, as a kid himself. I’m still making mistakes, still learning."
Up next for the up and comer? Tours and his debut studio album, slated for a 2019 release. Acknowledging he still has some growing to do, Caleb explains why the LP will take some time. "Debut albums and albums—those carry weight," he says. "I feel like I have to experience a little bit more, learn a little more, work a little harder [and] put a little more time in."
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