This is RAUL.
WHATUPRG’s artistry exists on the bleeding edge of hip hop, effortlessly integrating trap soundscapes and Latin rhythms to animate his memorable lyricism. Innovation is to be expected — fans of WHATUPRG’s debut album, Pleasant Hill, can attest to his creative excellence. However, WHATUPRG is entering a new frontier in his career, one where his unbridled boldness about his life experiences is fused to his distinctive sound. His latest EP, RAUL, projects his personal freedom with a clarion call to his fans to fight for the freedom he’s found. For themselves and for each other.
Besides being the title of his latest EP, as well as the 22-year-old’s first name, RAUL is a dare to WHATUPRG’s audience to reckon with the young man on the other side of their headphones making their favorite music From the opening track to the final beat, RG performs a heart-wrenching examination of his Mexican heritage and his Christian faith, illustrating two identities that are inextricably intertwined and yet, at war in the United States. Similarly, art and artist can never be wholly separated but in RAUL, they are one.
In Freeze, RAUL’s opening song, RG journeys back to his boyhood and revisits how his father’s deportation forever altered his home and outlook. For those that intimately know the pain of a separated family, it’s a breath of fresh air. To fans that don’t, it’s an invitation to wake up.
WHATUPRG’s love for his fans grounds his raw, pointed challenge to shift their perspective from apathy to empathy; be it through renewed politics, empathy for neighbors living on the margins, and most especially, their conception of God. In “4AM,” his most personal track, he offers a somber reminder that “Jesus was an immigrant” while observing that “most people don’t give –,” well, you’ll have to listen to the rest.
The project progresses through testimony about the poverty he endured as a child foreshadowed by his father’s forced exit from his life (“Swish”) and a celebratory break up told entirely in Spanish (“Ni Aqui”). RAUL culminates with “Free,” a declaration of his newfound liberty and an acknowledgment of the One who grants it.
“When we admit our brokenness, that’s when we’re closest to freedom,” said WHATUPRG. For him, that’s a reflection of the journey that brought him to RAUL. But for you, the listener, it’s something even better than a personal epiphany. It’s an invitation.