For the past three months, I have been exploring new and seasoned music. From genres like hip hop and Neo Soul to indie music and even classic rock, I have kept an open mind in my music discoveries. I’m not sure why exactly I’ve been on this music kick, but it has turned into a daily ritual for me.
DISCOVERING NEW HIP HOP MUSIC ARTISTS
Almost every day I go on my Spotify app to listen to selected artists I have saved to my music playlist, or I listen to the “New Release” section to discover new music.
A few weeks ago, I was telling a friend of mine I have been listening to a lot of hip hop music lately. I was actually surprised at myself because I normally listen to more Neo Soul and R&B than I do hip hop.
But ever since the passing of hip hop artist Nipsey Hussle (#RestInPower), I have felt compelled to discover more hip hop artists. Partly, because when I learned of Nipsey’s tragic death, I realized I didn’t know much about his music. The other reason being I wanted to expand my musical interests.
I started listening to more of Nipsey Hussle’s songs after his passing and I discovered what a phenomenal artist he was. I wish I would have known more about his music before he died, though. His death was just heartbreaking. I love Nipsey Hussle’s music and it stays in rotation on my Spotify.
Some of my favorite Nipsey Hussle songs are:
“Last Time That I Checc’d”
“If U Were Mine”
This experience taught me to open my eyes and my mind more and discover more artists, and to also discover artists I normally wouldn’t listen to (like Tyler the Creator– don’t hate me for being late on discovering Tyler the Creator!) because I might actually like their music!
Something else I have changed about my music listening is taking the time to listen to the lyrics and the stories the artists have to share. Sometimes those stories are profound and/or discuss important social issues.
MEETING HIP HOP ARTIST LANDO CHILL
Ironically, after beginning my hip hop exploration, in early May, I was invited to attend hip hop artist Lando Chill’s show in Corktown, Detroit. Lance “Lando Chill” Washington is a hip hop artist originally from Chicago. Now based in California, Lance has been touring with Knife Knights for a few weeks.
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Although Lance grew up in a musical family, he didn’t start pursuing his musical career until after college. In 2010, Lance made the move from his home city of Chicago to Arizona to attend the University of Arizona. While in college, he studied film, journalism, and anthropology.
With musical influences like Luther Vandross, James Taylor, Kid Cudi, and Lupe Fiasco, Lance has a very eclectic taste in music. He doesn’t like to say just one particular singer has an impact on him as an artist because he finds music influences in many types of artists and genres.
“I guess anything that matches the mood,” Lance explained to me during our interview. “My soul is in certain people I have never heard of…they may not have even quote-unquote made it yet.”
Music isn’t the only thing that also inspires Lance as an artist. As a social activist, he also strongly believes in discussing social injustice issues and raising awareness of important topics. Lance also uses his music to share his thoughts on various issues. From women’s rights to racism, the hip hop artist isn’t one to shy from speaking his mind.
On a February 2019 Instagram post, Lance took the time to honor the late Trayvon Martin on what would have been his 24th birthday.
On the post, Lance wrote:
“Throughout history, those in power have had no problem using generalizations built on bias & bigotry to shape their & their own children’s thought processes and experiences; as if those generalizations can justify the overt & covert prejudice enacted during the every day. This idea of a vigilante white person or group going around finding people of color to terrorize with violence is a fantasy that stems from reality…”Lando Chill’s Instagram
During my interview with Lance, I asked him about his style (only because I’m obsessed with vintage) and more serious issues like the feminist movement and the injustices against black women (a topic Lance is very passionate about).
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#TrayvonMartin would have been 24 today. & on the day of his birth we’re having the cyclical conversation that we tend to have when someone leans on the justification for their racism in some instance of violence against the black body. From Liam Neeson admitting to stalking the streets looking for a “black bastard” to kill if he charged him up in some twisted form of retaliation against sexual violence to George Zimmerman following Trayvon Martin because he looked like a “bad kid”, to Emmitt Till; who at 14 was lynched by a group of white men on a lie, there is always an assumed justification or alternative narrative absolving the perpetrator of whatever violence was sown upon that person of color. Throughout history, those in power have had no problem using generalizations built on bias & bigotry to shape their & their own children’s thought processes and experiences; as if those generalizations can justify the overt & covert prejudice enacted during the every day. This idea of a vigilante white person or group going around finding people of color to terrorize with violence is a fantasy that stems from reality; going back to the film “A Birth of a Nation” a 1915 film originally called “The Clansmen”, that depicted a racist portrayal of black men (many played by white actors in blackface) as unintelligent and sexually violent towards white women as well as the KKK being the American saving grace against the on coming scourge called freed black men and women. today we call it the “George Zimmerman syndrome”, but this idea of the perception of other leading to the violent action from the self is nothing new at all; the indoctrination of racist beliefs acting as a form of self defense. In their minds, protecting family & nation. Today’s instance with Liam Neeson and his pity tour on our morning talk shows is just another way they lend credence toward those who have the privilege to act without thinking about the repercussions their actions. White entitlement is a real thing; and in various cases including those stated above, has been the basis for black death and white violence. We shall never forget your name; nor that your killer walked free to live amongst us.
INTERVIEW WITH LANDO CHILL
JH: (Admiring Lance’s vintage coat because I have a thing for vintage style.) I really like your coat.
Lando Chill: “Thank you! Thrift store vibes. Like $35 bucks. Tuscon (Arizona) has some of the best thrift stores finds. You can find anything there. It’s like untouched by the wave of recommodification of nostalgia.”
JH: Is that your style? Mainly going to thrift stores? (I say this admiring Lance’s style because I love vintage fashion.)
Lando Chill: “Yeah. I mean, it’s what I can afford at the moment. I’ll splurge every now and again for some nice shoes and shit. I guess in some ways it can be considered a style just because maybe like simplicity or– I don’t know– nostalgia is desirable. You can find cool shit at thrift stores, know what I’m saying?”
JH: I know you’re originally from Chicago.
Lando Chill: “Yep.”
JH: Did you use to come to Detroit a lot to visit?
Lando Chill: “No. I’ve never actually been to Detroit, aside from when I got here earlier [this week]. I think I got here April 29th, I believe. To pick up the homie Lasso, who drove from L.A. to Tuscon and then Tuscon to Detroit. He lives in Ferndale so that was my first time in Detroit.” (Andy “Lasso” C is also a part of Lando Chill’s band.)
After Lance talks about me the places he visited in the D with his partner Maya, he shares with me his impression of Detroit.
LANDO CHILL: “It’s a very historic place. It reminds me a lot of what was and what could be. There are definitely some stark contrasts when it comes to originality and authenticity.”
JH: When did you move to L.A.?
LANDO CHILL: Last July.
JH: What was the transition like from Midwest to West Coast?
LANDO CHILL: “I lived in Tucson for about eight years. I moved from Chicago in 2010. Moved to Tucson to go to school and started my career as a musician so the west coast is kind of feels like a second home, honestly.”
“And I don’t know if you can consider the Southwest the West Coast. As far as sound, there are some similarities, but also some very big differences. It’s been a chill transition so far. I’m from a big city so I like big cities. I know how to navigate myself.”
JH: Have you always been doing music?
LANDO CHILL: “It became more of a passion, at the end (Lando’s referring to his college career), as far as recording and mixing. Music has always been within my life from the beginning. My mom was a choir director and my grandmother sang music. It has always been in the family. We always had instruments like rhythm sticks, tambourines. I’ve always been listening to music. It’s been within the blood, but the formal execution/training happened 2013/2014. and then it became a career, in essence.”
JH: What is the meaning behind your name?
LANDO CHILL: “I like Star Wars. ‘Lando’ is the only black character in Star Wars. When I watched Star Wars as a kid, that was a name, as well as a face, that I could relate to because my name is Lance so that’s pretty close [to Lando]. I never called myself that, though. I never had an affiliation to ‘Lando’ until one of my homies had called me that as a joke. Sort of like as a nickname kind of deal and it’s stuck.”
“And ‘Chill’ was…fuck, I don’t know. I smoke a lot of weed. (laughs). I guess back then I thought that was an appropriate last name for the lifestyle that I lived and currently live. It would be weird if I called it a lifestyle, but it’s really a mindset. Having patience, being able to take things in stride, and understanding when your time is– but also knowing that there is a time and a place for everything and hard work, a lot of the time, is what is needed.”
JH: I wanted to ask you a little about a couple of your songs. “From the Hip”– I really like that song and I’m curious to know: in the song, there is a moment when a woman talking in a Southern accent talks about cheesecake. What is that from? Is that from a movie?
LANDO CHILL: It’s from a viral video I found on the internet on World Star. (laughs)
LANDO CHILL: “This white lady just ran– I guess a bakery or a service at her house– where she cooked a lot of sweets. And I guess this lady ordered a cheesecake and she was very late in picking it up. She hadn’t picked up her cheesecake so she was like, ‘Yo! Come pick up your fucking cheesecake.'”
“I just like placing things I find funny in a song, but it ended up having kind of it a very subtle meaning, you know. This lady who does a service– this is her career. This is her livelihood. Something she has a passion for. And there is no follow through with the other person who has a contract or an agreement or whatever. And it’s kind of like hurry the fuck up. Where’s my shit?! You know what I’m saying? My dues. Where is my recognition? Where’s my respect?
“It’s really that song is an encapsulation of what it means to be black in a space that is not consumed mostly by black folks anymore. Being in a world where there is a lot of gatekeeping and a lot of the gatekeepers don’t have the best interest in growing the art, as far as growing their artists and lining their pockets. And so yeah, it was just like a big fuck you.”
JH: The song “Facts”– There are a lot of songs that I like, actually, but I’m only going to talk about a few. (laughs) So I also read the lyrics from “Facts” and I was wondering if you can tell me a little bit about the song. First, I wanted to say what I got from it. I felt it was about some social injustice issues like slavery and women’s rights. Am I right?
LANDO CHILL: “Yeah! I have been reading this book called Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts, and it’s sort of a really back to front look at what injustice is to the black body, namely, and [what] black women have gone through throughout their existence within this shadow of slavery we call America.”
“It delves into Reproductive Rights. It’s actually really heinous, as far as when you go into eugenics, how higher learning was used as a tool in order to change perception, and use racist ideology as the underling to really oppress, and not only oppress the woman and the man, but also the unborn and the born children. I could go on and on.”
“I had been reading [Killing the Black Body], and when I listened to the facts, it was something that brought a lot of energy and brought a lot of pain but also a lot of privado. Indignation. Not necessarily like revenge, but just more of: ‘Listen. I implore you’.”
“And so it became the canvas in which I painted– what I ingested the past week and a half. So that was, in essence, why that song [“Facts”] is as specific, and I think, as meaningful, as it is. Because it comes from a place of authenticity.”
“It comes from a place of learning about past– regardless of how abreast we think we are about a subject. Not taking things for granted. I think a lot of us young men take for granted what black women did for the cause and did for this world.”
“I mean, we can talk about Malcolm and Martin, but what happened when they were gone? Who was there before and after? Who is there to pick up the pieces and continue the household as we see it today”
“And a lot of people may see it as broken, but I don’t think so. You know what I’m saying? We didn’t break it. The fuck? Like, we’ve been holding it down. Y’all been holding it down (referring to black women).”
JH: Would you say that you’re a feminist then?
LANDO CHILL: “Yeah. I mean, if you want to put a label [on it]– for sure. I think, though, when we talk about the history of feminism, that word is not necessarily inclusive to people of color or trans or queer individuals as much as we want it to be. In a lot of instances, white feminism nowadays is very much a detriment to women’s rights because of the fact that it speaks only to a certain segment of the population and for a certain segment of the population that is dwindling.”
“And so reproductive rights is a big issue when it comes to white feminism and then the overarching better idea of intersectionality and feminism or feminists who know about intersectionality and inclusivity. So yeah, I mean I would call myself that.”
“But there’s also so much weird nuance within that word and that movement now today. And I think it’s like a continuation of what history was. The women’s suffrage movement was built upon the backs of black women, but white women get all of the credit because they made it to the workforce.”
“I mean, there was already a woman’s workforce already popping off and you’re talking about you got the right to vote. But did black women get the right to vote at the same time? What is women’s suffrage if it’s not for all women? And the movement hasn’t been for all women.”
“I mean, Margaret Sanger— even though reproductive freedom is paramount, her lack of oversight over her ideology and her involvement within the eugenics community and reproductive rights, in general, put a stake into the heart of black communities and poor communities. And these are people who call themselves and are called “The Mothers and The Creators of the Feminist Movement” or “The Creators of the Reproductive Rights Movement.”
“There are so many nuances I’ve learned about because of Dorothy Roberts and because of [Killing the Black Body], as well as a lot of black women on Twitter. Black Twitter is life, you know what I’m saying? I’m for women’s rights. I’m for women’s equality.”
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- A Heartwarming Evening at Gigs for Digs and Mitch Albom’s ‘Finding Chika’ Book Launch
- An Inspiring, First-Time Visit at TEDxDetroit 2019
- The Grace, Beauty, and Grit of Vanessa Williams
Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were taken by Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit.