In a recent tweet, the young Reach Records superstar WHATUPRG pointed out that his last two projects, Pleasant Hill and RAUL were originally intended to tell one unified story. In addition to this revelation, RG went on to indicate that there was, in fact, an alternative tracklist for this combined project. With the premises of each of these works appearing so distinct, to understand the concept of this story, one must decipher who both Raul Garcia is, and who he is becoming. This growth is most evidently displayed in following the narrative of Garcia’s brash alter ego, “Lil Holy.”

Act 1 – Pain

  • 4AM – “Forget religion and politics man. I just wanna have my dad back”
  • FREEZE – “I was just a kid when my dad got deported/Ever since then everything ice cold”
  • Lil Holy – “Call me Lil Holy, I’m your big homie”
  • Rosegold – “Anything you doin’ I could do it better”
  • Wesside – “You ain’t really happy/Why you lyin’?/Why you lyin’?/You the saddest person I seen/In my life”
  • JR. (Interlude) – “Yeah, now I just have these like, like really high ups/and really low downs, hmm/I wish my dad was here”

The creation of Lil Holy, like so many other figures in fiction, is initiated with a tragedy. For WHATUPRG, the birth of Lil Holy was produced by the deportation of RG’s father. While there are obvious political implications that go with such an event, the young RG could not have possibly cared less at the time, instead simply begging for the return of his father. When the realities of his father’s deportation set in, RG was left with a feeling of cold confusion which gave rise to his coping mechanism of choice, Lil Holy.

WHATUPRG

Holy was arrogant, self-centered, and embraced behaviors that RG knew to be inherently sinful. In spite of this knowledge, Holy refused to return to his foundation of faith, seeing the life he built for himself as far more desirable. Ultimately, Lil Holy was proven wrong as his “Rosegold” lifestyle was shown to be inauthentic, much like how the alloy is not 100 percent pure gold.

This theme is communicated most effectively in the closing of “Wesside” as a disembodied voice reminded Holy that the life he built and his enjoyment of said life were fallacies. This truth broke RG, but sent him down a path of realization, and more importantly, repentance.

Act 2 – Realization

  • RoleModels – “Liquor bottles, in a room full of role models/Guess we all got our own problems”
  • YellowPaint – “I never saw life in her eyes/But every time I would approach/She told me ‘Keep things on the low’/Little did I know, she came in straight for my soul/And I hid from the Truth”
  • Exit 104 – “Came around town with that Heaven bound smile/ Naw, hell bound smile, you was here to bring me down/But I bounced back, found out I was missing out/On every single thing that God intended life about”
  • SWISH – “I had things I had to learn, I had to grieve/Momma told me Abba takin’ care of me/I believe, I believe, but sometimes I just wanna get the piece, I need peace”
  • NI AQUI – “Ya no quiero nada más de ti, no-no-no (No-no-no)/Nada que tú digas va a servir conmigo, oh/Yo sé que tú quieres tener mi corazón (Corazón)/Pero ese corazón no lo compra un millones” Rough translation: (I do not want anything else from you, no-no-no (No-no-no) / Nothing you say will serve me, oh / I know you want to have my heart (Heart) / But that heart does not buy it one million

Following the realization of Wesside, RG began to recognize how his sinful lifestyle had truly broken not only him but those he had looked up to. The disembodied voice, perhaps RG’s subconscious, perhaps God reaching out to the young artist, showed Lil Holy that sin leads to destruction for all who follow such a path. This realization sent Lil Holy on the run, as he fled from the grip of evil. Characterizing sin as a temptress, RG understood what sin had been doing all along, finding “Exit 104” on his journey. While this track does connect back to the story of the HOLY project, exit 104 is indeed a real location which features a billboard that reads “JESUS.”

The message here is clear, in escaping sin, RG had to return to his Christian roots. Journeying along this exit, Lil Holy began to understand his own pain, affirming his belief in Christ while confessing his struggles. Finally, as RG came close to his Heavenly Creator, he rebuked the sin of his past, stating that while he knows that sin wants his heart, he is better off without it.

Act 3 – Freedom

  • Lovely – “From the womb I knew you by name, uh/On your darkest days, I don’t change”
  • SR. (Interlude) – “Hijo, échale ganas (I’m so)/Y de tu mundo no te olvides de los planes de Dios (I’m so, I’m so free)”
  • FREE – “Yeah, I was lost (I was lost)/And the world that I made in my thoughts (In my thoughts)/I was far outta touch, yeah, You came for me”

Lil Holy made it to the end of his journey and found encouragement in both his Earthly and Heavenly fathers. On “Lovely” God reminded RG just how much he loves and cares about the artist, stating that He had been thinking of the artist even before his birth. Rather than casting Raul out because of his sin, God welcomed RG back home. After this, RG’s father, presumably named Raul Garcia Sr., asked RG to trust in God’s plans, because God’s plans are always greater than our own. Finally, Garcia Sr. commanded RG to give this life his all which RG responded to with the adrenaline pumping anthem, “FREE.”

On this final track, RG emphasized his liberty from guilt, pain, and his own past, acknowledging that his battle is of a spiritual nature above all. RG knows that his sin nearly cost him everything, but with God, he is free of it all. Lil Holy was a means of expressing RG’s pain, but that persona led him down a dark, dangerous path. By embracing his true identity as RAUL, RG has found the freedom he yearned for.

Check out the WHATUPRG HOLY alternative tracklist in playlist form:

HOLY ALTERNATIVE TRACKLIST

  1. 4AM
  2. FREEZE
  3. Lil Holy
  4. Rosegold
  5. Wesside
  6. JR. (Interlude)
  7. RoleModels
  8. YellowPaint
  9. Exit 104
  10. SWISH
  11. NI AQUI
  12. Lovely
  13. SR. (Interlude)
  14. FREE

Read our breakdown of Pleasant Hill here. Read about Raul here.