WHATUPRG’s name is synonymous with innovation and authenticity. His trademark combination of Latin rhythms, Trap hip-hop, flawless lyricism, and captivating storytelling has enshrined him as an elite amongst his peers emerging from the Christian Hip Hop scene. Still, his art is too eclectic for the limits of any subgenre.
Since his latest release in 2019, the Atlanta rapper, producer, and designer has been channeling fire—the fire burning at the White House leading up to the Capitol riots, the fire burning California in the great blaze of 2020, and the fire burning at the border where the nation saw children left in cages, separated from their families. Taking this all in produced a burning inside for RG who has been processing his own coming of age through battles with depression through which he has determined to create and become something beautiful.
His new album, New Hollywood, captures the quintessential nature of what listeners truly desire from the musical art form: an experience in which the trained artist channels his or her ability to respond to deep human emotion. On “NEW HOLLYWOOD” the emotions run deep. Each track is a visceral experience.
Every chord, every bassline, every lyric, and melody each contribute a delicate stroke of paint to the album’s canvas of human experience. The picture develops into a masterpiece that is just as much specific as it is universal. Pain is universal, but we each must know it for ourselves in order to develop the empathy necessary to be ourselves and accept others who feel pain as well.
His previous EP’s “Pleasant Hill”, and the self-titled, “Raul”, have proven his capability to channel his personal experiences and journey through faith to offer something substantial to the zeitgeist. His latest, NewHollywood is a project that proves pressure plus time produces hope.
In describing the album, WHATUPRG says, “I wanted to create music that could be a friend for people”. “I wanted to help them know when they hit rock bottom, even then, they’re not alone.” Sonically, there are masterful records on New Hollywood like “KIDZ”, which carries the album's thesis, chanting “We don’t pretend no more” and “kids don’t die we go up high”, over punching 808 drums and haunting synths.
“HUMAN'' takes the listener outside the conventional rap production style so WHATUPRG can riff confessional melodies over guitar chords singing, “You clear the storm in my mind, you bring me back to life”, and “If I show you the worst [of me] would you stay and rock and roll?” True to his innovative nature, RG began recording the record mumbling cadences into a voice memo to craft the vision for one of the albums most captivating records. The record finishes with a punching back-and-forth featuring rapper, Rhomar Jessie, as the two stab back and forth with lines like, “It feels like they killin’ innocence for the hell of it, separating kids from their parents ‘cause they immigrants” and “Coulda been the next Malcolm X, Dr. King but I’m tucked in my bed while I sleep on my dreams”, each line describes their anguish watching the troubles of the world and feeling helpless to do more.
“NEEDYOU” finds RG processing his desire to be holy, but feeling far from it, or in the dark. He describes trying to process life and getting stuck. “Hella jaded, medicated, I’m surprised I’m still alive all the things I’ve taken.” and “I’m surprised I still believe in God, I gotta say it,” he raps. Describing the record he says, “I'm declaring to God that I need Him”.
On “MELATONIN”, electric guitars carry WHATUPRG’s haunting melodies as he chants “when I’m up all morning tossing and turning I been up losing sleep, all this melatonin take me up slowly take me up slowly, please”. Processing his internal struggles and the strife of the outside world has left him unable to sleep. This record is the soundtrack to those sleepless nights.
“New Hollywood is a place where you don’t have to act and you can just be yourself,” says RG. “Being yourself is enough”. This album is the Gospel according to WHATUPRG. Through these lyrics listeners will find a creative powerhouse putting himself in context of a generation questioning their responsibility to a sick and dying world as well as the role Christianity must play in finding personal and world peace.
To all who are weary and heavy-burdened, welcome to New Hollywood.