All lyrics no gimmicks: Oakland rapper Calvin Rodgers

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“My first start was gospel music, then I got into rock music, and then rap came later. My style comes from a very old school way, an early 2005 Kanye mixed with J. Cole,” says Oakland rapper Calvin Rodgers on his journey to hip hop.

by People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, SF Bay View Oakland Bureau

Calvin Rodgers, a rapper with Southern roots, is one of the most gifted lyricists changing the cultural tide that I have met on the Oakland scene recently, where repetitive mumble rap promoting ignorance is the current course meal of the day. I had originally seen him get down at D’Wayne Wiggins’ Compound last year, and earlier this year I saw him get down at Gina and Phil’s Pillow Session artist showcase. 

You can hear the spiritual fingerprints of Jay-Z, Em and J. Cole on his style. For me, his music puts the excitement back in local hip hop because I am tired of everyone trying to sound like Rod Wave, Lil Baby, or NBA Youngboy. Bringing something new to the game is always a sure way to get noticed. Calvin Rodgers, a rapper without a hip hop street name, is all lyrics and no gimmicks, and he is definitely a talent on the rise. Check out this brotha in this exclusive interview. 

JR Valrey: Where are you from? And how did you get into music?

Calvin Rodgers: I’m from Valdosta, Ga., and I got into music by being a musician since I was 6 years old.

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JR Valrey: Who influenced your rhyme style? How did you develop it?

Calvin Rodgers: I’m not gonna lie, man, I come from multiple genres of music. My first start was gospel music, then I got into rock music, and then rap came later. My style comes from a very old school way, an early 2005 Kanye mixed with J. Cole. The first rapper I ever sat down and listened to was Jay-Z and Em. So I studied their art of storytelling.

JR Valrey: Do you have a project you’re working on? If so, can you tell us about it?

Calvin Rodgers: Yeah man, so I’m working on a project called “What Happened to Mr. Rodgers,” and it’s a project about my journey getting back into music from an 8-year absence. I have grown up. I’ve matured, and I’ll experience some things that made my love for music elevate. I would like to have this project completed and finished by September, on my birthday, and also I’m adding a short film to it.

I was in the East Bay because it’s the heart of the culture.

JR Valrey: What is your creative process like?

Calvin Rodgers: My creative process is pretty wild. I normally always have lyrics in my head. I don’t write a lot of things down per se. I remember parts of the song where I want to say certain things, and then I start to remember it. If I really enjoy a song, it’ll take me 30 to 45 minutes to finish it. It’ll take me two days to remember it, and then I repeat that process over and over. In my head right now I prolly remember 30-40 songs word for word.

JR Valrey: Where is the best place that you like to perform in the Bay? Why?

Calvin Rodgers: In the East Bay period! I was in the East Bay because it’s the heart of the culture. All of the Bay is dope, but if you can get Oakland, you’ll get the Bay. Not SF so much now, because of all the gentrification that has happened. Vallejo and Sac is another piece that’s important as well.

JR Valrey: Where do you see yourself in the next five years as an artist?

Clavin Rodgers: I see myself being a staple artist in the industry because of the style and sound that I’m gonna be able to come out with.

JR Valrey: What are two of your favorite rap songs that you like and why?

Calvin Rodgers: 1. “Dear Summer” – Jay-Z. 2. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” – Kanye West. The “Dear Summer” song is such a staple introduction of lyricism from Jay-Z about this coming season, and being able to take it over – just took my whole imagination of bars. And “you can’t tell me nothing” is in the title itself. Haha.

JR Valrey: What kind of beats do you like?

Calvin Rodgers: I love samples and symphony orchestra music. I love sofa beats and trap beats, because I’m from the South and we got our own lingo.

JR Valrey: How do people get in touch with you?

Calvin Rodgers: Mostly Instagram @its_1996.

JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of Black New World Media, heads the SF Bay View’s Oakland Bureau and is founder of his latest project, the Ministry of Information Podcast. He can be reached at, on Facebook and on Instagram @ministryof411podcast. Visit to read more.