At the age of 17, Caleb Bloomfield found himself in the dark basement of his apartment no longer in control of his own life. He was reeling from two major losses: he and his girlfriend had just broken up after reaching the decision to give up their newborn son for adoption.
“I found myself in a very dark place,” says Caleb. “I was depressed and was diving deeper into drugs and alcohol as well as other women, trying to fill that void.”
Only God, he would discover later, could fill that void and give him a new lease on life—and even a new name. “I searched out all the ways that the world says brings you happiness,” Caleb says. “And I never did find that happiness until I found Jesus.”
That is the message the now 25-year-old Christian hip-hop artist wants to tell the world today through his music, starting with his recently released debut album Me Vs Me. The album is an ode to God’s redemptive love and the hope he has found in Jesus after years of wrong choices and painful consequences.
Caleb was born in Canada and grew up in the Fiji Islands, where his parents were missionaries. His multi-talented family gave him not only a Christian upbringing, but also a childhood filled with music. Realizing he had a talent for writing lyrics and rapping, Caleb naturally gravitated towards hip hop. “I had always wanted to be a rapper,” he recalls.
The young hip hop artist’s career started off well. His stage name then was “Tu K” a shortened version of “Ratu Kelepi”, which means “Chief Caleb” in the Fijian language. He started writing songs under that stage name, working towards his dreams of becoming a rapper.
At the same time though, he struggled to fit in with his peers and his relationship with God took a backseat. “The core problem was that I did not know who I was in Christ or who Christ called me to be,” he says.
When he was 15, during one of his family’s trips back to Canada, Caleb found the acceptance he was seeking from a group of hard-partying friends. It wasn’t long before he found himself doing things he never thought he would do, just to fit in. “I was dead set on finding a way to make me happy without God,” Caleb explains.
Drugs, partying, and sex became a part of his everyday life. When he was 17, Sara, his girlfriend at the time, gave birth to their son. After quarrelling over what to do about the baby, they decided that they would give him away to adoption. This eventually led to them breaking up. Depressed, Caleb sought solace in even more drugs, alcohol, and other women. On the outside, it looked like he was having a good time. But on the inside, all he felt was emptiness.
Called by God
One particular day, a friend invited Caleb to a Christian conference that featured hip hop dancing. Figuring he would have a bit of fun with his friends, he agreed—even arriving at the venue stoned. Despite his blasé attitude towards God at the time, Caleb was immediately struck by God’s presence at the event. Over three days, he found himself responding to one altar call after another and unloading his burdens to Jesus. “All the pain and shame I’d held onto for so many years began to fall off.”
After experiencing the truth of Christ’s love, Caleb decided to dedicate his life—and his music—to God. That started a time of transformation, redemption, and restoration. Four years later, Caleb was reunited with Sara, his former girlfriend. They married and had two more children together. “God is using our story to glorify His name,” he proudly proclaims.
As God continued to turn his life around, Caleb began to see the truth of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
But it wasn’t just a new identity that God gave Caleb: He also gave the hip hop artist a new name.
The Birth of Xempt
After God transformed him and Caleb began to use his music to honor God, he continued with his stage name, Tu K. However, he felt that the name carried a lot of baggage from his past life, which he had spent chasing after the pleasures of the world. “In all those bad things I was doing, people knew me as Tu K,” he says.
A memorable encounter changed all that. While he and Sara were choosing a name for their newborn daughter—whom they eventually named “Mercy”—Caleb felt convicted about the importance and power behind a name. Around the same time, he was also reading about incidences in the Bible when God had changed a person’s name to speak life and identity into their lives. “God spoke to me and said ‘Caleb, you have died to yourself and resurrected with me. I want to give you a new name. You have been exempted from your past and your past no longer affects you.’”
And so the name “Xempt” was born.
To Caleb, it is much more than a stage name: he sees it as an effective way to share his life story and identity in Christ. “A lot of people out there in the hip hop scene have been down the same roads that I have been,” Caleb says. “When somebody comes up to me and asks, ‘Oh, what’s your name?’, I can say ‘Yo, this is why my name is Xempt: because I’ve been exempted from my past’.”
Me vs Me
Some four years after he changed his name, Xempt released his debut album Me vs Me in November 2017, which opened at #12 on the Canadian iTunes charts. The title was inspired by Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
“If you listen through the songs (on the album), it’s a reflection of where I was and where God has brought me,” Caleb explains. From the recounting of his childhood in the opening track “Psalm 6” and the reality of spiritual warfare in “Shadows” to “Jehovah Jireh”, a song of praise that glorifies God’s work in his life, the album is filled with meaningful lyrics centering on the hope found in Jesus, solid beats, and moving melodies.
The album has a simple but powerful key message: “No matter where you may find yourself, whether you feel like the closest thing to God or the furthest thing from God, it doesn’t change the fact that He isn’t finished with you yet.”
That message is expressed especially in “Good Enough”, one of the most popular songs in the album. It was a deep, personal expression of Caleb’s journey back to God which almost was not included in the album. One of the lines in the song recounts the time he found himself sitting in the front row in a church service, feeling completely worthless. “It was a song I wrote out of a cry from my heart that I wasn’t good enough,” he says. “I found myself in a place where people would laugh at me and be like, ‘That’s not who you really are. You’re not a Christian.’ They would speak down to me and tell me what they thought I was—an addict.”
Listen to the song, however, and you’ll walk away with the overwhelming message of God’s grace and Jesus’ love. In a verse from the song, Xempt raps:
“For the seeds that I’ve sown don’t match the grace that He’s shown,
Now my mind is blown. No, I can’t comprehend.
Is it all pretend? His Son, did He really send?
Can He really be my Father, and my King, yet my Friend?”
Asked what he would say to anyone on the same journey, Caleb chokes up with emotion. With tears welling in his eyes, he proclaims: “Man, there’s hope. There’s hope and it’s found in Jesus Christ. To anyone who doesn’t know they’re worth, I just want to remind you that Jesus, the Son of God, came to die for you. No matter what situation you find yourself in, there is hope and there is a reason to live.”
Me vs Me by Xempt is available now. For more info, check out xemptmusic.ca.