Cryptic Wisdom, the hybrid alt-rap project of Arizona-bred songwriter David Gonzalez, is an outlet for the MC to explore his fatherless childhood, struggles with sobriety, and the feeling of hopelessness. “Telling my story about my dad and my mother and my relationship to them is how I got my start and first went viral,” he explains, referring to 2016’s “7 Years,” which begins: “Once I was seven years old/ My father told me, I’ll never leave again.”
Gonzalez deftly weaves rock styles with hip-hop themes and flows, creating a world that nods to multiple genres but exists on its own. The songwriter honed in on this style and themes of anger and depression most intensely on 2014’s X’s & O’z 2020’s Hindsight and 2021’s LOVE YOU HATE ME. But when Gonzalez began recording HATE YOU BACK, he found himself happier, and in a more positive place than ever before. And yet Gonzalez found himself gravitating to the lyrical themes of his earlier works, recalling stories of past traumas, wondering why happier feelings still resulted in emotionally heavy songs.
“I always seemed to pull from past experiences, even when things were going really well, which was always very confusing to me,” he says. “I had to check myself multiple times and be like, ‘Hey, am I good right now?’”
With this realization, Gonzalez began crafting HATE YOU BACK, though there are songs that fall into similar patterns as his earlier releases.
“I want to show people that life sucks sometimes, but I was able to get clean. I was able to overcome childhood trauma and learn how to do the shadow work and learn how to work on myself and actually make something of my life despite all of that,” Gonzalez says. “Even so, that hasn’t necessarily been reflected in my work yet. So that’s my interest right now, is trying to explore how I can reflect that in the art.”
On HATE YOU BACK, he offers an optimistic perspective, one that has come from hard work and introspection. “I feel like I’m in an even better place now than I was when I worked on LOVE YOU HATE ME. It’s been really interesting seeing how people react to the music, because a lot of them are still in that head space that I’m trying to help them get through those tough moments,” Gonzalez says.
Although the album finds Gonzalez occasionally embracing this newfound light, it still addresses topics of Gonzalez’s youth, which makes him even more excited to work on new music with songs celebrating these recent wins.
Throughout the process of discovering his voice–and his personality–through music creation, Cryptic Wisdom has become comfortable in diving deeply into his emotions. “I’m working so hard these days to remind myself that I don’t have to be an unhappy person just because my music sounds unhappy.”
This adjustment has been a big learning curve for Gonzalez, and one that has required a lot of initiative and curiosity. “I’m still learning every day, because I think my biggest problem is I can be a very angry person,” he explains. Gonzalez still hasn’t mastered that tricky emotion, which he is more than willing to share with his audience. “I’m learning right alongside my fans, relating to them no matter how I’m feeling.”