Bar Exam: WhatupRG – Pleasant Hill (Album)
A One Listen Album Review – WHATUPRG “Pleasant Hill”
WHATUPRG just released his debut project, an EP entitled “Pleasant Hill.” The indietribe member and newest Reach Records signee isn’t new to these parts, we had the privilege to speak with him recently and have greatly anticipated this release. I’m just gonna dive right in.
Yellowpaint – “I consider my life nothing.. i live to tell the world his message Romans 116 I am not ashamed.” Rolling toms with RG singing over the top to bring us in. “I don’t want no lies, i just want to know is you really mine.” There’s some distortion on his voice, it’s kind of distracting. The verse drops and he’s got a cleaner voice here. The vocal performance is great. The topic leans towards questioning a lover who may be fickle, but could be construed as a relationship between God and man. The beat switches up and there’s no doubt what he’s talking about. He’s talking about finding fulfillment in a manipulative relationship. How he wasted his life on a girl. I wasn’t sure what to expect from WhatupRG, but here he exceeded what I thought he was capable of. He’s not only got melodies, he’s got bars. It’s all nice.
Lil Holy – “nobody owes you anything in life. not parents, brother, neighbor…Nobody wants what’s best for you more than what you want whats best for you …Even when your Mom be like “I know what’s best for you…If you don’t want that, that already cancels out” This first verse is flames. There’s charisma all over it. His inflections switch effortlessly. Short song from a big shot.
Rosegold – Starts with interesting samples on loop, 808 drops, call and response hook. Feels great. Flow is part melody part bars. This feels like the summer. I really dig how the layers of the music pull off and pile on in the right places.
“Need an umbrella, I’m a saucey fella/Anything you doin’ I could do it better/I said anything you doin’ I could do it better/And I don’t need a beat I do it a capella/don’t ever play, don’t ever play/I been bout my business since the second grade/I just talk to God when I meditate/Haven’t been home but I’m on my way”
I wouldn’t say there’s been much substance to the songs since that first track, but I will say it’s an incredibly enjoyable listening experience. Everything is above the bar as far as performance and production.
Wesside – Steel drums in the instrumental. Throwing to his Spanish heritage, he even raps a verse in Spanish here. RG shares on this song of how through the ups and downs of life God is still on his side.
RoleModels – “Liquor bottles, in a room full of role models/Guess we all got our own problems” This song seems to be a reference to Matthew 16. He’s wanting to be accepted by people, finding worth in what others say of him. He looks to his role models and sees they’ve got problems too, they’re trying to be accepted too. It’s a real track. The only thing he can do is process the struggle in his music.
Exit 104 – “You’re hard to miss in this dark abyss.” He comes in with a melody, still processing his problems, his mistakes, some broken past relationships. It’s got a double vocal on the lead vocal, except like
“You look good in denim/save me a piece of heaven/hit my line/you know I don’t mind/tell me lies/cuz the songs out of my mind/illa/you’re like kryptonite in my life if i die tell my ma/lived a good life till I met my killa/plain white t made it clean like snow/I’m reaping grief from the seed I’ve sowed/She gon’ see that a G die slow/don’t love you to death but it seem like so”
There’s a good moment here where an electric guitar solo gets interrupted by WHATUPRG busting a true flow. The beat clears out, the vocals are more dry here than everywhere else and he just does his thing. People will always let us down if we try to find ultimate satisfaction in them.
Lovely – “you’re never far enough” Rg talking about how we can lose sight if we focus on the wrong things. Again, it feels like it could be treated as a song from the perspective of a human to human relationship, but it parallels the broken relationship between man and God. “my oh my/you been on my mind since 1995/I can’t lie/you the only thing I want” Quintessential hip-hop outro montage of voicemails from friends and family sending encouragement.
We’ve known RG for awhile as an artist who can bring nice hooks, and his guest features are usually off the chain. “Pleasant Hill” proves WhatupRG to be a complete artist. This album is an incredibly enjoyable album, and while the subject matter might not have much depth, it’s all really well done.
Overall Rating – Above The Bar