Extreme close-ups and tight, rectangular framing comprise the visual style of rapper Caleb Steph‘s new song, “Trapped.” Steph is in your face almost immediately, eyes wide, snarling and rapping like he’s railing against invisible restraints in stark, grainy black and white. That’s juxtaposed with shots of him actually restrained with a respirator mask on a solitary mattress in an abandoned house. Blood soon floods out of the mouthpiece, and we see Steph staggering down a hallway marking his path with a bloody trail alongside the wall. It’s one hell of a first impression.
“Trapped” is Caleb Steph’s debut single, and the lead from a forthcoming project titled Bellwood Product, an homage to the Bellwood Apartments housing in the Newport News area of Virginia that he grew up in. Of Bellwood, Steph tells Complex, “The thing that became regular was, ‘You hear gunshots, you hit the ground,’” adding, “A lot of terrible stuff was normal to me.” “Trapped” and the ensuing Bellwood project represent Steph channeling the instincts, attitude, and life lessons he absorbed from his environment.
Regarding “Trapped” specifically, Steph explains: “‘Trapped’ is the darkness and frustrations you feel when everything holding you back is almost inescapable. Asking yourself, ‘What do I do?’ ‘Where do I go?’ ‘Who do I go after?’ The answers lie within yourself. That inner beast holds the light. Let it loose and don’t look back. ‘Trapped’ came when the beast was unleashed.”
As a 20 year-old kid from Virginia, naturally Steph cites Clipse, Pharrell, and Timbaland as influences, but also Fall Out Boy and Paramore, and going so far as to credit the boy band Mindless Behavior with directly inspiring him to try rapping seriously. Factor those influences with Steph choosing veteran G-Unit affiliate Sha Money XL as the producer to lock in with for the majority of his upcoming project, and Bellwood Product is shaping up to be an interesting listen. If the smooth but hard-hitting “Trapped” is any indication, their chemistry yielded fire and Caleb Steph will certainly be one to watch for in 2019. Look for Bellwood Product to impact next week and watch the visual for “Trapped” above.