For three years the story of the Red Ranger has played out in the theater of CHH.
Against a backdrop of depression,
the most deadly of enemies we listen as an individual who has been broken rises and becomes a hero.
“Red Ranger Part 3” is coming to complete the saga.
Xay Hill has become a friend of FiveTwenty and he was kind enough to share with us his upcoming album that is set to drop at the beginning of February. On this rainy day in January, after a hectic workday, I am finally getting to set down and engage with what I expect will be one of the top releases of 2019.
If the lead single from the project (“Fight” ft. Bl3y) is any indication, I am indeed about to hear something epic.
So let’s dive into it and I will share with you my instant reactions:
Morph III – WOW! Okay, so what Xay is about to do to CHH doesn’t even seem fair. The first sounds on the project are dark and intriguing as if they are holding the energy back with everything they have. You fully expect the beat to drop with a sonic explosion. Instead, we get met with a piano-driven melody that works perfectly with Xay’s vocals as he comes in saying “Levels on levels on levels/devils on devils on devils”. The entire job of an opening track is to set the mood for the entire project. “Morph III” accomplishes that and then some. We get the full repertoire of Xay’s skill right from the jump. It is clear that there will be no holding back as he is holding on for dear life.
“This is what you taught me to be/ a leader was raised from defeat/ a leader won’t ever retreat/ I guess it’s my time, time to go morph on the beat”
Snakes in December – Xay is going in here with no filter as he addresses the “snakes” that have surrounded him. Confronting so-called homies who are living foul to speaking to exes, this really feels like Xay is exercising thoughts that have been kept silent for a long time.
“Yeah I knew that they were leeches but they’re snakes now/ and they were standing by them trees throwing shade wow”
Black Ranger ft. YCG Dante – Is YCG Dante the Black Ranger? Perhaps. If what he is showing us equates to consistency throughout 2019, then we have a powerful alliance happening. Even though this is not the first time this duo has hooked up, and it is far from the last, “Black Ranger” does feel like an official introduction for Dante. The production is hard and it is pure energy throughout.
Crown Me – “They pray to Jesus, but they’re praying with a loaded chopper” A minute in and while this track is not bad, it certainly feels like the weakest offering to this point. It is more of a straight forward theme that you would expect to find on a hip-hop album, dealing with a less than perfect life in a difficult environment. Like I said, not bad, but not the highlight of the project.
Level 5 ft. Double ATL, Corey Wise, & J-Phish – This is more laid back than I expected, especially with the lineup that is featured on it. “Used to roll up to get high/ now I roll up to get fly/ when you make the wave hard to stay dry/ level up, level up” This definitely brings that vibe back around. Without even realizing it I found myself moving like when Ric Sincere gets into a clip on Line 4 Line (you know what I’m talking about).
Cry – The production here has an almost playful feel to it which is a contrast to the first words we hear “I just wanna cry sometimes” While sonically this is a very pleasing track, my criticism here is that the mix on the verses makes it hard to fully understand the message. I catch snippets of the lyrics but lose a lot of what is actually being said.
Suicide – This is clearly where the ranger begins to battle himself. “I told so many lies, yeah I told so many lies/ try to hide from all the facts that I deny/ I see the tears as they roll from your eyes/ it’s suicide” If you look at this only on the surface you may have some concern for the hero of the story. As you listen though, you find that this is actually a time of growth and rebirth as he finds the promise that “all things are working for my good”.
Sixth Ranger – YCG Dante is back and so is another ranger. “It’s alright, it’s alright/ I got my homie by my side” This is very repetitive, but not in a way that makes you jump to the next track. Instead, with this heading into the middle of the album, it feels like the moment when the heroes look at each other and declare “well, I guess we are doing this, even though it seems there is no way to win!”
MegaMegaMegaZord ft. Raw-B – “Don’t tremble at the feet of demons cause they’ve been defeated” We’ve reached the point in the story where the situation is seen for what it is. But even in the mess, the realization comes that the things that have been an obstacle cannot stop the greater purpose. The production and overall feel of this track is simplified but may prove to be the pivotal point in the story.
Phone Call – Here we have an interlude from an unknown female caller who lets the ranger know that she is there.
Pink Ranger – Enter the next ranger in the battle. This is the sound that has come to define Xay. From the moment the lyrics come in you can tell that this track is going to be a treat. “I’ve been told so many lies yeah so many lies/ when I was trying to die you wouldn’t let me die” We have a declaration to a significant other, which has certainly become a part of CHH. This offering is a quality track as it says what is needed and doesn’t drag on as some “love songs” have the tendency to do.
Level 6 ft. Caleb Kolman, Azrael, Yung Titan, Deane Walden, Scribe, & Cameron Walton – This is a more straightforward hip-hop track as we are hit with a melodic hook and rapid-fire verses. There is something about the production that sounds like it is just not quite there. Even so, the collection of up and coming artists have their abilities on display.
Clear ft. Tre’Gadd – We have another single that has been available for a minute. I love the collaboration of Xay and Tre’Gadd as they compliment each other well. I hope to hear more from this duo sooner rather than later.
Letter to My Future – This is worship. Plain and simple, this is what CHH needs more of. It is not corny. Xay is praising the Father and acknowledging that “You love me, you love me” and without that love what would we be? I hope to hear more of this within the culture as it is what the things we do should be built around.
Fight ft. Bl3y – As I stated, this single has been available for a couple of weeks now. IT IS A BANGER! From the moment I heard it, I knew that if what Xay had in this track carried throughout the project then RR3 would be a problem. The production, sound, quality, vocals, basically everything you look for in a good song is on point here. If you haven’t heard it yet you’re living life wrong.
360 – I like the feel of this track. As Xay is able to do consistently, we have a track that is a vibe and you can sit back and relax to. If there is one thing I would be critical of is that I wish the writing on the hook would have been pushed a bit deeper “We go, we go, we go/ we go, we go, we go/ we go, we go, we go/ around, around, we go” While I understand the connection with the title, this seems like wording we have heard many times. With this song, it is the overall experience, not the lyrical depth, that adds the replay value.
Level 7 ft. Bl1nd3d – We come to the finale. This is it for our hero. The song starts out with an explanation of sorts that explains what this journey has been about. “I’ve been on a mission to create a culture/ I ain’t had a vision, just moving where the wind blows/ Just want to get this off my chest so listen/ not a breath we’re given, every breath I’m living” This track is a fitting end to the series and a strong offering no matter where it may have been placed on the project. Even through the struggle, the testing, and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, we know that as long as we are with God both our hero and ourself alike will be alright.
- Morph III
- Letter to My Future
- Level 7
- Pink Ranger