Analysis: Understanding Rangeview’s identity through its music


Junior Hazel Somoza scrolling through her SoundCloud feed during her free time in class. (Aaron Chapa)

Aaron Chapa, Review Staff

Feature Photo By: Aaron Chapa  Junior Hazzel Somoza scrolls through her SoundCloud feed during her free time in class. 

The first time I felt like a Rangeview student was a year before I walked into the building as a freshman. It was two years before, to be exact, and I was a Mustang at Aurora Hills Middle School.

My older brother, Stephen, was a proud sophomore at Rangeview, and I felt equally proud when he sat me down at our computer and clicked play on the first Young Kingz track I ever heard, aptly titled Stars.

“Shooting for the moon/ yeah we’re going far/ even if we miss we’re still landing in the stars,” rapped the then-fifteen-year-old duo, Rangeview alum Jorion Marshall and Abel Negussie.

This was the moment that made me, a thirteen-year-old kid at the time, feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself – I felt like a Raider.

 In the years since, the rappers that make up the duo — Jorion “Jayfresh” Marshall and Abel “A-Rex” Negussie — have graduated, both stepping off into successful but separate lives: Negussie to Yale in Connecticut and Marshall to the University of Colorado in Denver.

Pictured above is Young Kingz’s profile picture on Soundcloud. Currently, Young Kings has 292 followers listening to their music.

They left a tremendous impact on Rangeview’s musical legacy, one that can’t be ignored when considering the school’s artistic identity.

In fact, I am a testament to their impact myself. Hearing their music in the school’s halls during the all-too-short passing periods and the far-too-long formative assemblies helped me develop my self-esteem into something resembling confidence that would allow me to unleash my own creativity, and I eventually released my first song on Soundcloud on October 7, 2017.

Releasing this song (which I have since removed because it’s honestly awful) allowed me to venture into the vast and diverse world of Rangeview music, one that I discovered to be strange, enticing, and ambitious.

Ultimately, it was beautiful through its pureness and powerful through its rough authenticity.

I was shocked to discover an incredible selection of artists that walked among all of us in the congested hallways; they were just like me and again I felt a part of something bigger than myself.

How could I not? Listening to my peers’ rap, sing, and scream their darkest fears and deepest desires gave me an understanding of my school that I would have not had otherwise.

I felt Marshall’s conflict between destiny and love on Win Interlude when he sang, “Telling my shordy to give me some space, young black man trying to find his place.”

I understood the value of all-encompassing teenage love when Tyler Hardin-Kuta, more commonly known as Pj the Dj rapped, “Babygirl you rule my world, I think that you deserve a crown, I’d rather be with you than at a party in a different town,” in his song, Her Remidees.

I shared Isaiah Grove’s anxiety on his song Outro when he rapped, “I don’t got time, I have no regrets just let me shine, too many distractions ruining my vibe… had divorced parents since I was five.”

My heart ached with Devin Blea, known as Khid Imperial, on Long Time when he sang, “It won’t last, but I love to try, please don’t say goodbye, no don’t say goodbye…”

These are all Rangeview’s artists. They aren’t just artists that happen to be from Rangeview, they are artists that represent Rangeview in the music world, and that makes every one of them important.

There are far more than those I just quoted, in fact, many of my closest friends are artists as well: Senior Roman Edwards/Varsity, Rangeview alum Kenny Nguyen/Kendog, and senior Malachi Sanchez/Malachi$.

Senior Malachi Sanchez a.k.a Malachi$.
Rangeview alum Kenny Nguyen a.k.a Kendog.

When I asked Sanchez about his music, he told me, “I started rapping in 2012, but I started taking it seriously in 2016.”

It isn’t a coincidence that he started taking music seriously when he got to Rangeview.

“I love this school, and we have good music steadily coming out of here. Older artists inspire us, and we inspire the younger ones,” said Sanchez.

I can attest to this as well, as since I started rapping last year, I have lost track of how many of my peers came to me for advice on starting their own musical endeavors.

In searching for Rangeview’s identity, I was able to find my own as well. With 14 songs, two short-length projects, and almost 10,000 listens after my first track, I think it’s safe to say this school has allowed my musical peers and I to flourish.  

I’ve grown sonically as well; having a larger, more dedicated audience has pushed me toward a more personal approach in my latest songs.

Essentially, I’ve gone from rapping just to rap in my early tracks such as Distance, and Ninja to rapping about my struggles and triumphs as a teen in today’s America i.e. Darkest Hour and Bad Intentions.

An unfinished song I am currently writing titled Zero Degrees centers around my self-admitted inability to differentiate constructive criticism from soul-destroying hate.

I rapped, “My temper flares out I think I’m losing it/ Been going off on all the people I’m coolin with… I gotta learn to laugh, like none of it matters/ Silence my friends attempting to silence the chatter.”

A year ago I would have felt tremendous anxiety at the thought of releasing such personal lyrics, yet now I know I will be accepted and even appreciated for it — and it’s all due to Rangeview.

Jorion Marshall poses for his song “Stealthy.”

Rangeview is a breeding ground for creativity, unfiltered and uncensored in the face of the world’s overabundance of inauthentic media.

I felt like a Raider when listening to the school’s music because the music itself defined what it meant to be a Raider. It’s about being a small but vastly important piece of the bigger picture, understanding your value in that picture, and pushing forward the significance of the culture as a whole.

There are countless artists at this school and all deserve recognition; every bar they rap, every line they sing, every drum pattern mixed by our students opens up someone’s mind somewhere, and that influence is indispensable.

That influence has defined my entire musical career, and it can be heard in the music from every artist that attends this school.

That influence gives voice to the things that matter to every student in every corner of the school, and by extension every young person in this country.

That influence provided me and others a home outside of home and an identity that has the potential to grow in every aspect because every student brings something to the table.

That is what it means to be a Raider.