On November 30th, 2014, Lando Chillrissian released his first solo mixtape, Broken on the Wheel.
In the midst of establishing his sound, Lando proves to be doing just so in his second full project. A collective of bass, claps, fades and orchestral instruments, Broken on the Wheel is a promising first impression for many. He is mastering a blend of future, funk and flow.
Born and raised in a south side neighborhood called Roseland Heights of Chicago, Illinois, Lando is flourishing his image in the small, yet artistically driven, city of Tucson, Arizona; originally in the pursuit of film.
Growing up in a religious household, where his mother was a pastor, he had an array of musical influences like gospel, folk, and Motown.
"Music had always been a part of me. My mom was really artistic when she was a kid so she pushed poetry, dance, which is kind of embarrassing," Lando admits and follows with laughter, "But she pushed a lot of artistic qualities, which was cool for me because it allowed me to have an emotional outlet. It wasn’t until, I would say, sophomore year of college where I took hip hop and rap and poetry the most serious I’ve ever had up until this point.”
Between the years 2011 and 2012, he officially started his pursuit in music.
"It wasn’t that long ago," said Lando. "It’s cool to have progressed from my first little foray into the music industry, which was this little joint mixtape with my friend Deep Rich, LA artist, called Tabernacle, to now, Broken on the Wheel. It’s tight."
Hip Hop wasn't welcomed in Lando's household growing up but he felt as if it was something that bridged the gap between himself and his peers, his relatives, and the kids on the block.
"I mean, as a kid I wasn’t black enough for a lot of people. Being mixed you have the identity crisis of: you can be this, you can be that," he said.
"Falling into Hip Hop… it wasn’t by chance it was a necessity at first to feel black enough. And it wasn’t even like I liked it at first, honestly. It was tight but my ears weren’t trained for it.
"It’s funny ‘cause my mom had the same problem. I think she still does because she doesn’t listen to a lot of Hip Hop. I remember back when I was first listening to it, my ears couldn’t catch up to the wordplay. It couldn’t catch the metaphors. It was so fast compared to what I listened to. Being from Chicago you listen to Twista, Consequence… you listen to all that, so you got cats that spit all fast."
Finding Hip Hop was a musical awakening and enlightenment, as he described it, for Lando.
“[Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor] was the first rap CD I bought with my own money, which is kinda lame,” he said.
Beginning Hip Hop influences
“Growing up I’d say Lupe. Man, Lupe was a big influence. Lupe and Kanye, I would say," said Lando.
Lando was a big mixtape head, visiting sites like HotNewHipHop and Stereogum for new music and artists on the come up.
"I remember when Childish Gambino was coming out and when Asher Roth was coming out and Cool Kids are just getting on, all these young cats now that are making headway. I used to think that I wanted to rap like them or emulate them like they were the 'end all, be all.' It got to a point where, I don't know, I was lying to myself through my music and that's the last thing you want to do as an artist. You want to be honest and truthful. Especially in rap, you keep it one hunnid. Honestly, that's what Hip Hop’s about. So it got to the point where I was just like, ‘Screw this. Let me find my own voice. Find my own path.’
I cut a lot of influences I thought were good influences that turned out to be just me trying to write a trend. I cut those out and I think my music grew because of that. I think it got a lot better, a lot better," said Lando.
When Lando first began writing, Childish Gambino, Tyler the Creator and Kid Cudi were the ones to somewhat be a foundation for his founding.
"It wasn’t as if I was biting their flows or their subject matter, I was biting their beat selection, their ambient style, their aura," he explained.
"After a while, after a few months of writing to their songs, it got to a point where I was like, ‘This is not getting me anywhere.' Musically, me being an artist is a pipe dream. Back then I didn’t have a mixtape, I'd bullshit. If I really wanted to get somewhere I didn’t want to be another one hit wonder, I didn’t want to copy ideas," said Lando.
"It definitely happened pretty fast. I would definitely say from finding my own voice I've grown exponentially," he said, "Just learning what I'm capable of - what sounds good, what sounds original. I think I'm almost there. I'm close to hitting that stride of it being a 'Lando' track. Like ‘Ah damn, that's Lando.'"
With a few demos already on hand, Lando has got a twelve to fourteen track album in the works.
"I’ve been listening to my demos and it's not like it transcends Hip Hop, it just sounds really… I don’t want to toot my own horn because I don’t really have a horn to toot.
It sounds really cool, it sounds unique, it sounds like I put the funk back in Hip Hop. That's what I want to do. I grew up with funk. I want to put the funk back in Hip Hop. Hell yeah," he said as if having had an epiphany.
"I have so many ideas spinning in my own head about it. I know I have two songs, I have a U of A artist working on the cover, I know Phen from Jivin' Scientists is going to engineer it and hopefully produce most of it. It's going to be interesting, it's going to be really interesting.
I'm going to get a lot of Tucson locals to be on it. Not the quintessential Hip Hop artists we have here. I’m going to get some world class trumpet players, trombone players, some unknown U of A choir kids to sing on it. I want to get some homegrown talent to be on it. The one thing I want on my album is passion. I'm going to pick passionate people who came [to Tucson] for a reason," said Lando.
He is aiming for an album drop in March of 2015.
Quick, yet diligent, to provide people some material, Lando is dedicated.
"This is going to cost money, this is going to cost time, this is going to have bad days, this is going to have days in the booth where I can’t rhyme, where, fuckin', my big ass lips don't work. There's going to be days like that but that's all a part of the journey. For those who think their end goal is having one performance or one tour or selling one album, this is the wrong profession for you. This is not something you quit, it's a part of you. Some people fall into it, some people grow into it, some people are just natural at it. Music isn’t something you quit. It's not a job, it's not a chore," expressed Lando.
His true end goal is having a long career in the music industry.
Broken on the Wheel
Broken on the Wheel took about five days of creation; given, a few of the songs are songs that Lando has been performing for a while now but finally had a chance to put them on wax and give them a home.
This ten-track mixtape is available for download on Bandcamp, (link can be found at the end of this piece). When you do download this baby, you find yourself with an eleventh track, "ain't no reason," where Lando covers one of his favorite songs by Brett Dennen.
One track, "Stay Gold," has an official music video and other tracks like "FAST Food" will have a video underway.
The project's cover artwork was made by Ezra Letra and photography was taken by Brian Thompson.
Lando sequenced this mixtape with reason. All ten (secretly eleven) tracks were placed in order while the titles were being given.
Not only are they sequenced but each song on the tape has a significant meaning and portrayal. Because of this, Lando walks us through the message behind each song and how it relates to the theme of the project: pride.
“It’s a tight track. I wanted something that would catch people’s attention. The theme of the mixtape, why it’s called Broken on the Wheel, is pride. That’s what I’ve come to understand is an area of weakness for me, so I decided to run with that theme.
Being 'broken on the wheel' is the punishment you receive when you are damned to hell for the sin of pride. That's the mother of all sins, of which all other sins arise from. Makes sense how everything stems from pride.
Each track reflects that in a sense and especially some of the subject matter in some of the songs. "Babel" was the first one. I named it "Babel" because of the Tower of Babel. That was the tower of pride within the bible. The Tower of Babel was this tower built and it was a monument of mans superiority and of course it was torn down.
I want people to know I was serious. I want people to know I’m not bulshittin’."
“It's an ode to Dragon Ball Z. I don’t know. I was kind of a nerd, still am. So I wanted to do a little shout out. I wanted to have fun. It was a really light hearted; Brazilian, samba form sounding shit. It sounded real dope, produced by Co.fee. I heard it and I was like, ’Whoa, this shit is tight as fuck.'
Namek is the planet in Dragon Ball Z that Piccolo is from. We all know Piccolo is the deflecto, black person in Dragon Ball Z. Little ode to that and that song also shows my hebrus. I really wanted to make it a point to have fun with the first few songs but also assert myself as a musician, as someone who has metaphors on wordplay, someone who can entertain you."
“That was the Kanye produced one. I wish I actually had his phone number to be like, ‘Hey thanks for the beat.’ I’ve actually had that song written for a while. That was one of the songs I always wanted to do because I’ve been a fan of Common for a while and the beat is off of his album Be. The original song is called “The Food.” Common killed it but I wanted my own version and I wanted to sing on the hook as well.
It’s nice to see “FAST Food” on wax, listen to it, layer it up.
That’s one of the ones I got pretty real on. Not sort of to preach but just a wake up call that the food that we’ve been eating, (the food as in a metaphor for the education, the culture, the ideas, capitalism and this consumerism), all this stuff that we’ve been fed by the people in power... it's not necessarily good for us.
It's not conducive to how human life really is. Humans aren’t meant to hate other humans, humans aren’t meant to enslave other humans. Once you already get in that mindset then you’ve already lost. So yeah, that's where I wanted to go with this song."
“Another ode to Star Wars. It’s funny because one of the strongest Padawans that there ever was, Anakin Skywalker, the thing he suffered from was pride. We’ll say that revenge had a big thing to do with it and that’s not necessarily something that’s a theme in this mixtape but it is a theme in my life just because I’m a spiteful ass son of a bitch, which is sad. But yeah its easy to admit just because it is me.
Yeah, Anakin, his power stemmed from his pride and his abilities and of course he had abilties that were beyond any Jedi or man or whatever. The pride was essentially his downfall. He believed he was more powerful than he actually was and at times I think us as a human race, me as a person, believe I’m more powerful than I actually am. It took growing up to realize that and I talk about that in that song. That song is produced by Lunice, originally a Rockie Fresh song. Shoutout Rockie Fresh."
“That ones produced by Flying Lotus. That songs pretty tight just because from the time I got here, 2010, to now I definitely been a part of a lot of friend groups, been on different sides. I've been taken advantage of, I’ve taken advantage of people, lied, cheated, all sorts of stuff and it got to a point where it was - you know, I’m putting myself in these situations, not the other way around where trouble finds me.
So I started to just make my circle smaller and smaller and I did that by becoming a hermit, in the sense of being more responsible, paying attention to my music and that cut a lot of bullshit out. But when you go do you, when you go to Henry David Thoreau type of forest bullshit and you go out into your own and find yourself, you then realize who has your back and who doesn't have your back.
You realize who goes out of their way to go say 'Wassup' and hang out, and who will just say 'Wassup' in passing when they see you at the bar at one a.m.. That was a song for them, for those people. That and for me. The song starts off with, 'Let's keep this between friends but to them I’m a means to an end/ I’m a pot of gold with a voice that can bend'. So yeah. Got to be real."
“That one is produced by Bearface. I wrote that after an ex-girlfriend. After we were talking and we stopped talking. My pride was hurt is perfectly how I segway back to the theme of pride and that beat sort of gave me the canvas to be able to portray how I felt when the heartbreaker gets his heart broken. It's unusual. That's why I named it “unusual betrayal” cause you never think you're going to fall on your own sword. The cop never thinks he's going to get arrested. It's just one of those ironic situations so I picked an ironic title.
It's funny because some people listen to your music and say, ‘Yo I listened to that song its so dope,’ and it's just like, ‘Yeah I wrote that song about you.’
She's heard this song. She doesn’t know its about her though.
The only reason music touches anyone's soul is if that person has been through what they talk about on the track. You can talk about dishonesty on the track, that doesn't make you dishonest."
"That is actually cut off of my first tape. That was a single. That is the only song I have a music video for.
For Senior Film [Ben Montemayor], (a classmate), talked about doing a music video. I was the artist he picked. I didn't have a song so he got his producer, a.k.a. his friend at the time Josh Sheppard, and we all collaborated on a song. After we collaborated on a song, got a music video, I was like ‘Hey, i got this music video coming out, I have this song coming out, I don't have a mixtape. I have nothing'. So that is what spurred the making of Tabernacle, my first project.
I give a lot of credit to Alexis Preston for producing and set designing that. A lot of credit to her and Ben. Shoutout to Cooper James, the cinematographer. I gave them a lot of ideas to work with where I wanted to be truthful.
The metaphors that I portray within the music video are real. That stuff happened to me or was in the process of happening to me and I wanted to make it vague enough to where as you wondered what it took for me to be here after all this shit happened to me. But I wanted it to be specific enough for you to realize that I didn't get here without some trials and tribulations, I have scars. I have been tested. I could have died multiple times but I'm here for a reason."
"It's spelled on purpose like that. It's spelled with capital TUC to represent Tucson. It’s one of those songs that you really have to listen to before… this one is hard to explain. It’s a metaphor for every college students nightmare but it’s also a nightmare that we are more important than what we think our future may hold for us. We’re more important than that job or career. Society said you need to make a certain amount of money to be able to live comfortable, you’re more than what you lost last week that you’re trying to get back. I mean you’re more than that.
You're more than that moment. There's more to life than that. It's not that big of a bump on the road in your journey and that was my little story about us college kids, the pitfall we go through. A little reminder being stuck is relative but we’ve all been there but it's not the end.
I heard that song because of Coachella, I went to Coachella this year. That is a Virtual Boy song. I heard that and it was bomb as fuck and I decided that it needed me on it."
"seen it all b4"
"That is from Mellow Hype, ancillary group from Odd Future. I wanted to get really biblical. I have a religious background: Christianity, Methodist, Presbyterian, not really Baptist, Episcopalian.
Going to college you learn how to ask questions. Not only that you learn how to ask questions, you learn why you should ask these questions. It's not just of curiosity, you learn in asking questions because ignorance is not bliss.
It's a pretty deep song. I'm going through the lyrics in my head and it's funny because I sound somewhat condescending but that is the whole point. That is my pride at work but that's also, I guess, my point. I've seen it all before.
As an Anthropology major, which I am now, and as a minority, I’m previewed to the knowledge and the history and the scars of what people are capable of, of what society is capable of, of what the world is capable of."
"REIGN OF PRIDE"
"That is an important track. That is my apex or my crescendo of my growth and understanding of myself and my weaknesses when it comes to pride and when it comes to that affecting other people or my consequences or my actions affecting other people. It was a culmination of the few years I have been musically inclined. That was just a culmination.
It was an important song. It's a song I’ve listened to for a while now. I think it came out in 2010. That's a Ryan Lewis cut, produced by him. The original song was “Fake Empire,” I believe, by The National. That band... they're a pretty dope band. That cut of a song was available on Macklemore’s and Ryan Lewis’ The Vs. EP.
I always had an affinity for that song. It always had this weird feeling or meaning or aura or something about it just felt right. I decided to write over it and it took me a while. Took me like a year because I wrote it in different bits and pieces. In my different highs and lows.
I wrote it, finished it up. Finished up the chorus last and sung it and it sounded right."
"ain’t no reason" - (the hidden track)
I like folk music. It's pretty tight. It's pretty fucking tight. That is a cover of a Brett Dennen song, "Ain't No Reason." I think it's pretty relevant to the struggles to the middle and lower class nowadays. It puts into perspective what and who we take for granted in society nowadays and how lopsided it can be.
That and I wanted this mixtape to be a really interesting roller coaster. I want it to flow but I also want it to showcase a lot of my talents. Being able to rap and sing can give you a wide range but also give you a cool little roller coaster, typhoon type shit you can do if you sequence it right and if you execute it right on wax.
It's a song I love to sing so I just put it on the tape."
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