CaalVo has been bubbling for years now, and with his newest album, FERRIS WHEEL, there’s a good chance he’s gonna pop. Caal is 21-years-old and grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, where he began to build a buzz on SoundCloud. Just under two years ago, he moved to Atlanta, citing a distaste for Virginia and the immense opportunity Atlanta provides as his reasons. Since moving to the hip-hop mecca, he has tightened + expanded his sound, and connected with New York’s most innovative collective, Surf Gang, whose presence is vital to FERRIS WHEEL’s strength. The blossoming emcee released four projects prior to FERRIS WHEEL, and while the others offer glimpses into his talent, it’s clear that FERRIS WHEEL is CaalVo’s most articulate and defining work to date.
At 18-tracks and 35 minutes of runtime, FERRIS WHEEL exhibits CaalVo’s uncanny ability to traverse through nearly all of modern hip-hop’s styles while maintaining his distinct originality. He lays down infectious hook-centered tracks on the opener, “Ferris,” and the closer, “21 Questions.” He boosts off on high-velocity rage-beats on “Ball Hogs (No Pass Zone).” And he pours his heart onto somber instrumentals found on “Dirty Diana,” “Dancing With Demons,” and “Let It Sing.” Features include BoofPaxkMooky (“By The Morning”) and Polo Perks + Bobainee (“Let It Sing”). Whether CaalVo is flexing his success or mourning over his regrets, it remains clear that he put every ounce of his being into each song.
The production is what separates FERRIS WHEEL from CaalVo’s previous projects and the rest of the current underground landscape. It is spearheaded by Surf Gang producers EvilGiane, Goner, Eera, and TommyToHotty — who were just profiled inRolling Stone andNoisey. The collective’s unorthodox orchestral presence is painted all over FERRIS WHEEL. Most prominently on “Let It Sing,” featuring Polo Perks and Bobainee, which features one of Caal’s most intimate verses: “I’m playin’ this game and I can’t fold / My brothers locked nah I ain’t told / Can’t come to my city gotta pay that toll...My heart not silver my heart gold / Ain’t seen my pops that n***a dead / But he left all the tools in the back of the shed.”
While CaalVo has been a name to know in the underground since 2019, it’s clear that FERRIS WHEEL is the largest artistic leap of his career. It’s mature, cohesive, at times brutally reflective, and extremely creative in its flows, production choices, and mixes. You do not want to miss out on this one.