Seven years after the release of his coming out album, I Am Who I Am, American Idol’s David Hernandez is back with Kingdom: the Mixtape.
Self-produced and recorded in various home studios in Los Angeles, California — proving artists don’t need fancy studios to make a great record anymore — Kingdom: the Mixtape is David’s first full album release since 2011’s I Am Who I Am.
The record displays a fresh sound for Hernandez. Amongst its many highlights, it includes collaborations with fellow American Idol Blake Lewis and the Grammy winning producer of Black Eyed Peas, Printz Board.
“I’ve been sitting on most of this material for years, waiting for the right time to release it,” David says. “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 realised I had a great body of work that deserves to be heard, now.”
In Kingdom: the Mixtape, David Hernandez delivers 20 original tracks plus a cappella versions of “Kingdom” and “Where Love Begins” as well as a bonus cover of Hailee Steinfeld’s “Starving,” featuring YouTube star Rajiv Dhall.
Many of the songs reflect on the heartbreaks and loss Hernandez has experienced over the last decade since rising to fame on American Idol. They explore his rebuilding trust and love, his refusal to give up, his persistence to change for the better and to grow as a human.
Other songs touch on forgiveness, joy and fun because as David explains, “Life isn’t always that serious and sometimes you just wanna let go and rage!”
From pop to R&B, with influences of soul, no one song on Kingdom: the Mixtape is the same. The title track, produced by Mikal Blue (Jason Mraz, Colbie Caliet, One Republic) is a mid-tempo power ballad that soars with electric guitars, triumphant drums and a grand piano.
“Beautiful” produced by Mark Grilliot, is a pop anthem while “Last Supper” and “Animal,” produced by Printz Board, are beat driven dance numbers.
Then there’s “Break,” an introspective mid-tempo song, produced by Alex Teamer, where David Hernandez opens up about his struggles with addiction. “I wrote the song at a time when I was drinking a lot and popping Xanax. 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 admits it is a daily struggle that he prefers to battle privately but felt compelled to put the song on the mixtape because prescription drug addition has become an epidemic among youth. “Young people are dying and committing suicide. They need to know there is help,” he says.
David Hernandez began singing at age six, starring in musicals and performing with various theatre companies. At fifteen, he started writing original music and recording his arrangements. In addition to American Idol, he has showcased his talents on The Ellen Show, The Today Show, MTV’s TRL, EXTRA, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Teen Choice Awards, Idol Tonight, FOX-TV’s Idol Gives Back. He was also named among TV Guides’ Sexiest Stars.
At the start of his recording career, Hernandez was signed to a major music label but couldn’t meet the high expectations of its executives. “Labels were always telling me to be me but then expected me to fit their mould of what David Hernandez was supposed to be. It was impossible. I felt powerless and lived in constant fear that I would get dropped.”
Here’s “Shield” – The first single from Kingdom: the Mixtape
His feelings about the music industry are reflected in the cover art for Kingdom: the Mixtape. It depicts a crown, symbolising David and his music, being held by a robotic hand: the music industry. It is intended to illustrate an industry that is fake and how it holds and controls an artist’s work and career.
“I hope listeners hear a piece of my soul in Kingdom: the Mixtape,” David Hernandez wraps up. “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.”
Kingdom: the Mixtape is available on all digital platforms including iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and Tidal.