On January 17th, Hector Dominguez released his third EP, Misunderstood for free on Rapzilla. Formerly known as Witness, Dominguez broke down his album track-by-track.

Dennis Rodman

I wanted this song to set the mood of the project. I wanted to showcase my storytelling abilities and the double timing that Chicago artist like Twista, Common, Kanye, and Crucial Conflict was known for.

I always hear, ‘Man you’re dope at them emotional songs but we need to hear you on something crazy’. I hit up OB and I was like ‘I know you be snapping on your production, I know this, but for my intro bro, I need you to pull El Chapo out of hiding and finesse this mug for me’. OB delivered and I believe I was able to give the listeners a full range of what I can do lyrically for the first time.

Misunderstood

I was at Flavor Fest 2014 when I got the phone call that would alter my life. My brother was screaming and yelling that someone real close to our family had tried to take their life and that my sister and he were trying to talk them out of it. After the bomb blew and the smoke cleared I was left abandoned by the same brothers who I had poured endlessly into. Birthdays, weddings, funerals, anniversaries, everything, and we were so close that we knew all of each other’s deepest and darkest secrets; years of walking life with them and the moment I needed them the most they were gone.

I called up J. Carter and just explained to him where my heart was at and wanted to see if he could help put that into words. I felt so betrayed, alone and frustrated. It was during this time when my wife almost passed away as well so I felt so destroyed that I let anger get the best of me. It has been this way ever since I was a little kid and I normally filter these types of songs out because of the subliminal context in them but this time I didn’t care. I was drowning in pain and brokenness and I felt that the people who I was there for when they were down and hurting abandoned me. Different rappers I would call up or text and they would hit me with ‘Default Answers’ and it drove me crazy. There are a few lines in this song that are going to hit a nerve with people but that’s where my heart was at at the time.

Bar Exam ft. Matt Tisdale, Cutright, A. Ward, Loso and DJ Wadeo

When I made this record I was just trying to have fun. I am in no way shape or form a rapper who is known for his #BARS. If you’re a fan of mine, it is most likely because of the heart in my music but everyone on this record is my friends and they just got me caught up in the battle rap scene so I decided to have some fun with my guys. I had fun and we all rap different and sound different. This was real difficult for me but I had a blast making this song.

…A. Ward heard my verse and I could tell he wasn’t impressed (laughing). He low key suggested I go back to writing and I am so glad I did.

Interlude + No Regrets (Situations too) ft. D. Lyelz

This song was the longest to create. I wrote seven verses for this song. This song has gone through so many different changes but I am so glad it came out the way it did.

I was a virgin until my wedding night but I was very promiscuous in my teenage years like a lot of other kids out there. After every relationship ended the girl I was with always ended up getting pregnant shortly after. I used to feel a little guilty but never really cared because that wasn’t my daughter, that wasn’t my girlfriend or wife. All of that changed the moment I had my daughter Ariel. After she was born a huge amount of guilt and shame over took me and I just begged God to never let any boy manipulate her heart like I did to those other daughters.

I shared my heaviness with a few friends and we started talking about the different scenarios where a daughter would be abandoned and how fathers have a responsibility to honor their daughters and give them the game and that’s how this song was born. Ultimately, I wanted to communicate that virginity doesn’t equal purity and visa versa. I also wanted to share a deeper side of me that I ever had in hopes that could have a positive influence over someone else. After performing this song at my last concert a 15-year-old boy came up to me and asked me to pray with him because he wanted to try and stop having sex with a few girls.

Hope ft. Abby Valdez

When I was working on ‘Hope’ I hit my producer and said, ‘Hey man I need something anthemic, something that makes you want to not give up something that makes you want to keep going’. I tackled a lot of different issues on this record that I don’t hear very often in our culture. The idea of being a father and husband while making music is crazy. Deciding on what are you going to spend money on this week, was it going to be diapers, beats, food, studio time, bus fair, gas, rent. I was just juggling a lot and literally felt like quitting life man.

If I give myself 100% to my music then I will be a terrible father and husband and visa versa. This song is just my way to encourage myself and anyone else who is going through tough times.

Hidden Track* It’s Them Not Us ft. Hilgy & Austin Downing

God is so good man. I have built so many relationships in my time with CHH and God has been faithful with those relationships but sometimes I run into people who I thought were my brothers or sisters in Christ to only find out that they used me for their personal gain and benefit.

I fell in love with CHH because a lot of these dudes claimed to have gone through so much and been picked on and treated poorly and I could relate. So when my wife almost died and my friends all abandoned me I reached out to everyone but I was met with silence. Then I hear some time later that ‘Said rappers’ were talking about me and saying how desperate I was and how they didn’t answer the call because they knew all I wanted was features but the reality is I was reaching out to these rappers because they claimed to have gone through everything I was going through and I just wanted some help. I think a lot of times we forget that though we may be CHH famous that doesn’t mean anything in real life. I’m way more concerned with being faithful than famous. Faithful > famous.

Marathon ft. Amberlea

Amber is one of my best friends. We went to Bible College together. We lived life together for years and she is one of very few people besides my immediately family that really knows me.

When it came to ‘Marathon’ I knew it would be a different type of song for me. I have never rapped on a beat like that before and I have never tackled a topic like this before. These last two years have been rough for me and honestly I just wanted to throw in the towel. This song is a declaration, a shout from the mountain top saying that accolades and awards don’t make me who I am. I am a rapper but music doesn’t define who I am. I will continue to make music as long as God allows it but it doesn’t define me. I am from the Humboldt Park area, I am married and my wife really loves me. I am a father and both my children are mine. I graduated High School and even college. In the urban context I beat the odds and that’s what I wanted to celebrate on this track. I wanted to let the world know that music is part of who I am, it is not all of who I am.

Outro ft. Hillu Hillyana and Oscar Urbina

Last time her and I connected we created ‘Mercy’. Hillyana and I have a real dope friendship. We both love music but when we talk, often times music is the last things we talk about. When we collaborated on ‘Mercy’ it was almost effortless because the Lord was in the midst of that song. Having her voice be the last thing listeners heard on my last project, it only felt right that she set the tone for my new record. I love making music that pulls on the cords of our hearts but I feel like a lot of times, especially as a rapper, we try so hard finesse a track that we sometimes lose some of the essence that captured us in the first place.

Oscar Urbina adds the cherry on top with his ability to navigate the soundscape so effortlessly. With all this ‘Rapping Christian vs Christian Rapper’ talk, I just wanted a clearly presented gospel to be the last thing the listeners leaves with from this project.

Overall Hector says that this EP is an honest depiction of the type of music he has always wanted to make but was never brave enough to do so. He changed his name from Witness and has a new freedom in art.

“I just feel that being from Chicago, being from the hood that I sort of had to make specific type of music. I was worried that if I made different sounding music that people wouldn’t get it. I was scared my wordplay would go over people’s heads and no one would get it but found peace in knowing that I am who God created me to be and I hope this project will help you see a little bit deeper into my world. If you rock with me then you rock with me. If you don’t get it that’s cool also, I guess I’m just misunderstood.”

Also available to buy on iTunes.