One thing that is certain in life is that no one survives it. Sometimes loss is a part of your story and one’s story informs the art they create. There must be something in the atmosphere because there are several projects that are either dedicated to the artist’s mother, or feature narration from the deceased matriarch. From Kanye West’s ‘Donda,’ to the upcoming ‘Never Land II’ from Andy Mineo, these artists seek to honor the legacies of their mothers. In that same vein, we find Wyoming based artist Wilfresdo’s album, ‘Bloomed in the Moonlight.’ Wilfredo’s project is dedicated to his mother who passed away on January 26th of this year. The project was released on August 24th, 2021, which is his mother’s birthday. Let’s dive into this project.
The first song is titled “Fortaleceme,” which is Spanish for “Strengthen Me” or “Empower Me.” With such a weighty purpose behind the creation and release of this project, it makes sense for Wilfredo to ask for strength on the first track. The song starts with emotion driven guitars and Wilfredo jumps right in, saying he’s feeling weak and asking for the Lord to help him. Then without warning, he starts rapping in Spanish! He gets into the theme of the album with lines like, “I’m just a rose that blooms in the moonlight/I keep it moving no matter what the mood’s like.” Fredo gets into some weighty lines and I enjoyed his wordplay as he’s, “Riding through Cheyenne, Wyoming/the silence asking me do I really know me?” I appreciate the off rhyme of “Wyoming” with “know me.” That let me know Wilfredo is not a basic lyricist. He asks God fill him up with no ice and to let there be no phantom pain. These two statements will make sense later. Fredo switches back to Spanish crooning, “So lo que necessito oracion,” or in other words, “I need prayer.” This is one heck of a way to start the project and lets us know what to expect moving forward. The second song is actually a skit or interlude tited “Para Nada Mi Vida,” which roughly translates to “Nothing in My Life.” I don’t quite understand the context of the title but we hear Wilfredo talking and joking with his mother. They have an exchange that leads to explosive laughter and ends with Wilfredo telling his mother that he loves her.
Song number three is called “Moonlight” and features Edwin Bliss. This track greets us with some piano keys and Wilfreo starts the song rapping in Spanish asking the Lord for protection because he has an Enemy after his soul. He seamlessly transitions to rapping in English and states that January 26 is a day that living legends are laid to rest. This one line could go over the listener’s head if they don’t pay attention to the following lines. It seems random that Fredo shouts out Kobe Bryant AKA the Black Mamba, but it is quite intentional. Wilfredo’s mom passed away on January 26th of this year, but last year on that same date is when Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others perished in a helicopter crash. While the world is in agreement that Kobe was a legend, Wilfredo’s mother was a legend to him and they both passed on the same day within an exact year of each other. 2019 was rough for Fredo as well, but he says that with Jesus, the gym, and some therapy, he will be alright. The hook is the star of this song as Edwin Bliss sings that he’s just a rose that blooms in the moonlight, pursuing life so he fights through the perceived plight of midnight. I can’t overstate how much I like this hook as it speaks to the heart of the song as well and the album as a whole. Wilfredo talks about how he is feeling and invites the listener to share his experience by drinking a Pepsi and eating som Menthos. I can only admonish the listener to not do this as Wilfredo’s statement was purely satirical. If you do this, the results will be explosive. Even with all of this pain, Fredo is still reaching out to Jesus. This song has a bop to it and I like it. At this point, Wilfredo is two for two.
The fourth song is called “No Ice” and it was one of the singles for this project. I love the production for this song and how Wilfredo starts the song. He alleges that, “Some want the sauce, others want the juice/ I just want Living Water that leads to the Truth.” The rest of the verse finds him speaking on the glory of God at a double time pace. One of the most common complaints about fast rapping is that the rappers are saying a lot of words but aren’t really communicating. This is not the case with Wilfredo, as every line is laced with a gem or quotable saying. He claims that God is “unfadeable as my hair” and many other witty one liners. Wilfredo then asks the Lord to “Fill me up with no ice.” While this line may seem simple, it is quite layered. When you order a drink with ice, you are getting a much cooler fluid but it comes with a cost. The drink is colder but there is less of it to enjoy because while the ice makes the beverage cooler, it is actually taking up space in the cup leaving less room for the actual drink. Wilfredo wants to be filled up with the true God without the “ice” of religion or any other unnecessary trappings that are associated with Christianity. On the second verse, Wilfredo takes the lyricism up a notch with even more witty bars and an impressive Michael Jackson scheme. So far, “Moonlight” and “No Ice” are the best records on the album. The next song is “I AM” and features Nakhaz and has an ominous feel to it. Wilfredo is a beast with the bars and he executes a verse long Marvel Comics scheme to prove it. In hip hop we’ve heard a lot of these, but I appreciate the creative approach that Wilfredo took. Instead of “Captain America” he used “Cappin’ in America” and for Professor X he said “exes that profess or.” I thought that was creative, clever, and the point still comes across. The hook espouses that Wilfredo is not only following the great I AM but becoming who he’s supposed to be. Nakhaz picks up right where Fredo left off with a Marvel Comics scheme of his own as he spoke about the good news of Jesus Christ and the freedom it brings. I appreciated his “Dare the Devil to test me” bar, a head nod to the Hell’s Kitchen vigilante, Daredevil. This was a great song and Fredo adlibbed on the outro that “the Ordinary coming soon.” What did he mean by that? Will that be a joint project with Nakhaz and himself? The chemistry and synchronicity between the two emcees was amazing and I enjoyed both artists equally. Next is another interlude titled “Crecio Fuerte,” which translates to “Grew Strong.” I don’t understand what was said as it was only sixteen seconds, but I can only assume that it adds to the narrative of the album.
The seventh song is called “King Saul” and Wilfredo admonishes the listener to not follow in the foot steps of the biblical character of the same name. Wilfredo points out that Saul was a people pleaser and the things that he did wrong, he did for the approval of man and not God. This theme of following God and not the crowd is laced throughout the entirety of the song. Fredo spits, ” If you live for the applause then you’ll die by the boos” and that is cold hard facts. We take a break from the music with a two minute interlude titled “Carta de Mami,” which translates to “Letter From Mom.” It sounds like Wilfredo wanted his mom to say some deep things but like the first interlude, it ends in laughter. You don’t have to understand the language to grasp the heart of what’s being communicated here. Mother and son share laughter and cherished moments. For song number nine, Wilfredo shifts gears and we get more of a somber slowed down tone from him. “Phantom Pain” is an acoustic guitar driven track with some assistance from the drums, but the guitar helps communicate the state of mind that Fredo is in. The phenomenon known as phantom pain is the pain someone feels from something that is no longer there. In the cases of people who have to have a limb surgically removed, there are times where they will feel a twinge of pain in the place where the limb used to be. Sometimes rain can trigger this pain and other times it can just come and go. In Wilfredo’s case, the loss of his mother is causing him emotional phantom pain. In the hook he states that everyday he’s feeling these pains and has to adjust how he lives each and every day. As close as Fredo and his mother were, there may be times where he is tempted to call her and see how she’s doing only to be reminded of reality. Even in the midst of grief Wilfredo still has hope and confesses, “One day I know i’ll be whole because I believe the stories that I’m told/ but until then, I’m feeling these Phantom Pains.”
As we turn the final corner on the project, we run into the minute and a half song “Cheyenne.” This song finds Wilfredo soley accompanied by an acoustic guitar as he sings about riding through city of Cheyenne. As he rides, the silence is asking who he is and he rides through the morning, noon, and night as he just dwells on his thoughts. He rides, a man alone with his thoughts and his God. No matter where you live, this is the song to throw on as you ride through your city to clear your mind. The eleventh song is called “Back 2 U” featuring Paula. This is another favorite from the project as all the elements come together beautifully. The hook has Paula singing on it and speaks to navigating emotions and hard times trying to make it to where she’s trying to go. As Wilfredo navigates one of the hardest times of his life, he’s become distant. Nothing communicates that better than the lines, “Someone told me they miss me, I looked at them and said… I miss me too.” Oof, how can anyone walk away from this song and not feel anything is beyond me. At the end of the first verse he quotes the oft mentioned phrase that “time heals all wounds,” but he doesnt believe that is true. He reiterates that same sentiment at the end of the second verse but follows up with, “I heard ‘time heals all wounds,’ I don’t believe that’s true/it’s what you do with the time given to you that will heal you.” That is such a profound thought. Many of us are navigating life waiting for certain wounds to heal but that’s not how it works. The passage of time itsef does nothing, we have to use the time we have to do the work to get better. The second to last song is “Holding On” featuring The Way. Wilfredo and The Way accompany an acoustic guitar as they sing that they are a reflection of the grace and love of God and they have to keep holding on. They repeat this for just shy of a minute as we head into the final song of the project. The final song is aptly named “Oracion” or “Prayer” featuring G.I. Jojo. Wilfredo performs the entire song in Spanish, but he’s encouraging the listener and saying the only reason some of us are still here is because of the prayers of our mothers. He talks about how he has faith because of his mother and encourages the listener to stand up and never give up. The song is ended with what sounds like a prayer from his mother.
This album is heavy and encouraging at the same time. As someone who has lost four grandfathers from 2010 until 2016, this album spoke to me. Wilfredo doesn’t fall into the Christian cliche of speaking about grief from a past tense, rather he talks to the listener from his current place. He also doesn’t speak about grief and pain to the point where it sounds like he has no hope. As Believers we have hope and Wilfredo communicated that from an authenic and real place. Wilfredo walks that delicate line and he executed his plans wonderfully. His love for Jesus and his mother shine through on this project. I appreciate that he stuck to his roots and rapped in Spanish and used Latin elements within his music. Some may be off put by this, but my first ever CHH album I purchased was “Tha Last Street Preacha” by T-Bone back in 2001, and he rapped in English and Spanish as well. The thought of continuing to perservere or “bloom” while surrounded by dark times and navigating by the moonlight was weaved throughout the entire album. If you want to hear a great album with an amazing message and sound, you need to check out Wilfredo’s ‘Bloomed in the Moonlight.’