Kingdom: the Mixtape teams the hunky artist with the Black Eyed Peas Grammy-winning producer, Printz Board, and features a collaboration with fellow American Idol Blake Lewis.
The follow-up to his 2011 debut album, I Am Who I Am, this new collection of 20 tracks reflects many of the highs and lows he’s experienced since his time on the American Idol stage in 2008, including his sometimes crunchy relationship with the music industry.
“I’ve been sitting on most of this material for years, waiting for the right time to release it,” says Hernandez. “I’ve listened to too many people’s opinions about when to release, how, what images and content are appropriate… I was just over listening to what other people think I should do. One day I finally stepped back and realized I had a great body of work that deserves to be heard, now.”
Many of the songs explore Hernandez’s journey over the past decade rebuilding trust and love, his refusal to give up, and his persistence to change for the better.
But it’s not all about an uphill climb. There are also tracks that express joy and fun because as Hernandez explains, “Life isn’t always that serious and sometimes you just wanna let go and rage!”
The new album stretches across several genres including power ballads, soul/R&B, and dance tracks.
The title track is an achingly soulful mid-tempo ballad that soars across triumphant drums and a grand piano.
“Shield (Coat of Armor),” the first single and music video from the album, is an uplifting, confident, guitar-driven anthem.
“Beautiful” showcases Hernandez’s vocals in power pop mode, while “Last Supper” and “Animal” are uptempo numbers clearly born for the dance floor.
Then there’s “Break,” an introspective mid-tempo song that lays bare Hernandez’s struggles with addiction.
“I wrote the song at a time when I was drinking a lot and popping Xanax,” says Hernandez. “It was an awful time. We were being evicted from our apartment and everything was going to shit.
“I ended up in rehab and eventually got clean of prescription drugs, and life became much better,” he adds.
While every day can be a private struggle for those with addiction, Hernandez says that he felt compelled to put the song on the mixtape because prescription drug addition has reached epidemic levels among youth.
“Young people are dying and committing suicide. They need to know there is help,” he says.
“I hope listeners hear a piece of my soul in Kingdom: the Mixtape,” shares Hernandez. “I hope they get where I am coming from, really see me for who I am, and that they, too, can relate to the songs. I want the mixtape to be healing, enlightening, and revelrous.”
You can find Kingdom: the Mixtape on iTunes here.