WHATUPRG talks about his heritage, influences and being a changemaker
WHATUPRG has been on fire since early 2017, with multiple features and hit records, his artistry is already set for success in 2018.
We got a chance to sit down with him for our Artist Interview Segment
NH2O: Over the last few months, especially the past year your music, image and face have been all over the web. I think it’s clear that you are on the verge of becoming an incredibly successful artist (well deserved!)
What/who has contributed to your growth and what does the future look like for you right now?
WHATUPRG: The first really big break was the video for “Don’t Forget to Live”. We literally just shot it based on like 20 or 30 RT’s and we said we would shoot the video at Walmart that night. Only 1 person showed up that night and that was my friend.
It was literally 3 of us in the video bruh. We did that and dropped it the next day and it got a whole lot of love on Twitter.
Lawren (@lawrenonit) then told me to post it on Rapzilla and I sent it over and they posted it as well.
All of that led to me and Martyr becoming friends and J.Monty and a bunch of people that I look up to started seeing the potential I had. After that, I had a run where I was doing a bunch of features. I did “Slums” with Lawren and “Ride My Own” with Mogli The Iceburg (@moglitheiceburg).
From there it was all social media – I was sleeping on Instagram for a while but after we went on tour I had some great content to post so then we started doing that as well. “Don’t Forget to Live” was like the first time that people really got to see everything I was doing. From there it was just co-signs and behind the scenes stuff that people don’t know. Overall it’s been an incredible journey and blessing and I’m excited to be where God has put me.
NH20: I know you mentioned having a passion for immigrants since you are a first generation American. How does that impact your ministry and how you present the gospel to the people you know personally and through music?
WHATUPRG: I’m first generation American and what that means is that both of my parents were born outside of the U.S. in Mexico to be exact. I’m the first to be born in the states, living and thriving!
(My heritage) brings a new perspective to the (Christian Hip Hop) conversation. I think a lot of the latino community is underrepresented because there are not a lot of voices in popular culture outside of latino communities. I think that is largely because of how we are forced (in a lot of ways) to live in hiding (in the U.S.) because many of us are illegals. You can’t be too vocal about issues or a legal situation because there is a fear of getting in trouble. For me, I’ve been through it. My dad got deported when I was like, in middle school. It plays a huge part in my life and what I do in my ministry and my music is reflective of what I’ve lived through.
I can’t fabricate another story. God allowed me to go through this whole process of life as a first generation American and a son of immigrants so I can be a voice for those who are underrepresented.
NH2O: The divide in this political sphere seems to be vast, missing a lot of common ground. With our current President, it seems people are either all in or all out. How do you navigate conversations about illegal & legal immigration in a climate where biases are so polarizing?
WHATUPRG: I think it comes down to looking at everyone with compassion.
I think there is a healthy way to disagree and inform at the same time and you can get informed too. I personally don’t understand why somebody would vote for Trump, but I would love to talk to somebody who voted for Trump and see why they voted and understand them. At the same time, I would love to talk to someone and let them know “Look, there are kids out here who are being separated from their fathers just because their parents are “illegal”, but all they’ve done is provide for their families.”
Many times they just work and live in hiding and really have no future (themselves). They’re really just supplying for their kids and sending money back to the motherland (Mexico). People are content with that and happy, but still a lot of people don’t see any of that at all. I think it is moving with compassion. Whether you’re for it or against it, you have to approach anything through the lens of Christ.
God called us to look out for the oppressed, if we are not doing our job to help one another, what are we doing?
NH2O: My wife is Mexican American my mother in law is an immigrant, once illegal. Something I’ve witnessed within Mexican culture is a very conservative approach to church and worship, Christian and Catholic.
How do you navigate a culture that is typically more conservative with your ministry and what has it been like to serve in that capacity?
WHATUPRG: Oh yeah it is definitely very conservative.
When I first started doing rap songs when I was like 7 at church and the day, or like the same week, a lady invited my mom to lunch and had a whole conversation about how my music was of the devil. My mom was like “How could you say that if the lyrics are positive and glorifying Christ?” Honestly, I didn’t understand and my mom never told me that story until I was like 16. She held off on me – but my parents have always supported me in my music.
I know in my heart where I’m heading and where I’ve positioned myself allows me to speak to people and let them know it’s not about a bunch of rules but about His grace and His mercy and His love. So when I rap I want people to know that they’re not alone and there is grace for them too. I will always be me and show them what I’m going through and being authentic with them.
People can see through the facade of who is real and who’s not. I’m blessed to have some of the realest and most humble people supporting me.
NH2O: Authenticity is obviously very important to you and what you do, I believe as it should be. How common is real authenticity within the circle of CHH? What areas could be more authentic/more transparent?
WHATUPRG: I don’t know everybody in CHH to be like “everybody’s real” or “everybody’s fake”. As far as my friends go, everyone has a genuine desire to grow as a Christian first and then God just blesses everyone.
For a little bit CHH was in a kind of weird spot where for every 10 bad songs you could find 1 good one but as time went on, everybody is just killing it! We’re not losing when we got Foggieraw, Ty Brasel, Aha, 1K, and Dyl, and Parris. There’s no L’s bruh! It’s exciting! Really exciting! Honestly, we are all just pushing to be who God called us to be. CHH wants us to fit into this mold of what a Christian rapper should be and we’re just like “naw”.
We are just doing us and it’s very liberating and very encouraging to see each other win and each other grow spiritually.
Be sure to follow WHATUPRG @whatuprg