Rolando Sepulveda goes by the moniker of R3. The R comes from the first letter of his name while the 3 comes from the number he wore when playing sports. Rolando was born and raised in Edinburg, Texas a town down in south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. Currently working on his EP “LIFE”, set to drop during the month of May 2020 under the Damn It Boy Music imprint, R3has released the lead single “Let Go” ft. Breanna Marin, written for a close friend who passed away.
Hip-hop has been cranking out living-it-up bangers for decades, but the average hip-hop head is aware that serious introspection and emotional thoughts aren’t a foreign concept for the game.
The gloominess feels natural for a culture that grew out of urban plight and the trauma of impoverished people of color; it makes sense that at least some of the genre’s songs should reflect misfortunes and their lasting effects on the psyche. Hence the soulful sad sound of “Let Go”, is especially captivating to the ear.
Sometimes we may be suffering the same emotions and need someone to talk us through why we’re feeling these feelings. R3’s laidback conversational voice attentively talks us through the feeling of loss, while the stunning Breanna Marin backs him up with an extremely poignant hook.
Many other rappers have embraced loss and vulnerability in past years, even when male emotional introspection wasn’t part of the dominant narrative. Today we have sub-genres like emo-rap that is awash with sadness and pain, but it’s still hard to find old-school rappers who trade in emotional rap.
R3 shows us it’s perfectly possible on “Let Go”, which blends old school flavors and new wave trends. R3’s distinctly unobtrusive flow comes with a sensitive quality, so he has no trouble selling the emotion at the core of his song. The result is a wrenching set of bars that never falls into the pits of melodramatic grief.
R3 paints the verses with straightforward, transparent revelations about the loss of a friend. It draws a deep personal unhappiness into focus, but Breanna’s hook, reminds us that sometimes we need to let go. Rapped over haunted piano plunks and a driving drumbeat, the song is particularly affecting, because the level of detail shows that R3 is truly spilling a piece of himself.
It is a reminder that there’s a human struggle at the center of it all. As someone who grew up listening to the hyper-masculine hip-hop of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I’m struck when I hear today’s rappers, like R3, speaking openly about their vulnerabilities.
With hip-hop still the reigning king of mainstream music, introspective lyrics like those found on “Let Go” are working their way into the genre’s latest hits. R3’s lyrical content surfaces his inner struggles with loss, and tells hip-hop practitioners and listeners alike that it’s okay to examine and detail your inner feelings. The song is a constant reminder that life is sacred, and anyone can go at any time, and that at some time we’ll need to “Let Go”.