If we’re lucky, we receive a handful of albums each year that transcend the basic reasons why we love music. They’re much more than just fun escapes or creative manipulations of sound: they speak to the chaotic wilderness of the soul, examine our self-doubts and laments, and offer measured hope for the human condition. They refuse to dismiss the demons that lead us astray and derive their strength from having to earn their optimism.
Lando Chill’s debut for Mello Music Group, For Mark, Your Son is one of those life-affirming records. It’s a 12-song tribute to the father who passed away when the Chicago-born and raised rapper was just three years old-the rare shout into the existential abyss that actually receives answers echoing back. It’s a coming-of-age story rooted in life, death, and legacy. It reminds us how the dearly departed can leave behind an indelible light. It’s the work of a brilliant 24-year old Tucson transplant with a wicked jump shot, who steadfastly embodies the compassion, strength, and talent of his vanished hero.
When you listen to Lando Chill, you hear traces of Gil Scott-Heron, Pharoahe Monch, and The Roots. At times, his rollicking cadences and innate gift for melody feel like a one-man equivalent of The Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia, while the album’s sepulchral finale feels like the most gorgeous song TV On The Radio never wrote. But mostly, For Mark, Your Son marks the ascendance of a singular talent, fusing scattered influences into a coherent vision, an artist scarred by his experiences but healing through his broken poems.
This album is for those open books with open hearts, the vulnerable and those in pain, the fatherless children too proud to ask for help because they believe their dads wouldn’t raise a weak son, the mothers that lost their best friend, the fathers that never got the chance to see how bright the future looked, for the blunted that aspire for something that more than what’s in front of them. It’s for those willing to admit their mistakes and those smart enough to start correcting them.
Lando has the gift of writing disconsolate spirituals, non-denominational prayers, a Unitarian Gospel that can’t help but leave you feeling whole. He says it himself: his soul has a purpose. He made his dad proud. He made himself proud. He reminded us that some things are timeless.