Landon Wordswell: A way with words
by Mike Roe
In this age of YouTube and iTunes, anyone with a laptop and headphones can be a producer, and the ability to use two rhyming words in a sentence makes you an emcee. With this oversaturation in the hip-hop genre, REAL artists stand out from the crowd and no one may be shining as bright as Landon Wordswell. Born in Indianapolis and raised in Illinois, Landon now calls Eugene, Oregon his home, and he is no stranger to the Bellingham hip-hop scene.
“I absolutely love Bellingham, genuinely,” Wordswell said. “There are outstanding emcees here such as MoStafa, My Dad Bruce, Jesus Chris, Heist, Hash Adams, Taj and the like!”
Bellingham loves Landon as well. His past shows have all done very well and Landon brought some amazing artists to the stage such as Gift of Gab (Blackalicious).
Currently on tour with local artists Mostafa and C-Legz, Wordswell has been very busy recently, touring the West Coast and also working hard in the studio. He recently released his sophomore album And All That Jazz, exploring hip-hop and its fusion with jazz music. The album features hip-hop production from around the globe.
And All That Jazz, has a very laid-back feel in both the production and lyrics, bringing the listener back to a time when hip-hop was about wordplay, metaphors and storytelling. From the first track on the album you can tell that Landon is a different kind of artist, but just who is Landon Wordswell? I was able to catch up with Landon while on tour to learn more about the man behind the music.
Mike Roe: Who is Landon Wordswell the person? The artist?
Landon Wordswell: I try my best to separate my personal life and music life. Landon is an artist. Anthony (my real name) is a father and a son and a provider. Obviously I’m the same man, but my Landon persona has allowed me to alleviate a lot of stress. It has single handedly dragged me through my deepest, darkest depressions. Writing is so therapeutic that it’s allowed me to attempt to balance myself as a human. As a man.
The artist is the all seeing, all hearing but definitely not all knowing entity. The majority of my music itself is observations, storytelling and questioning my own motives. To look so inwardly into oneself allowing you to notice your good & highlight your flaws. It’s as if life was an object that you misplaced. A very important object. So, you look for it and recount your steps. Along your way of finding it you discover each and everything you did to make any situation better or worse. It’s a humbling feeling. Hip hop has taught me so much about myself.
MR: How long have you been rapping?
LW: I don’t really know how long I’ve been rapping. I know I’ve been rapping for a living and for my livelihood for the past four years.
MR: Do you play any instruments?
LW: I used to play trumpet. I wasn’t that good though. I was like the 3rd or 4th chair in band, but I loved it!
MR: Do you make your own beats?
LW: No sir-re bob. In the words of Mac Dre, “That’s not my job.” I’ve never really listened to his music, but that song cracks me up.
MR: What is your process for finding beats?
LW: I haven’t worked with anyone local in a while. As a matter of fact my beats for my latest album, And All That Jazz, were made from producers out of Korea, Columbia, New Zealand and England. One of two things happens for me to get beats. I’m on two labels, Cult Classic Records (UK) and Blue Bottle Records (New Zealand). My labels send me beats and I get to work, or producers send me beats to get on. We negotiate a deal and we move forward. So, luckily my email is filled with a superfluous amount of beats.
MR: Who are your biggest influences in life and music?
LW: In life, my mom, my stepdad, my big sister, my little sister, my baby’s mother. It all revolves around life. My mom gave me life. My step-dad taught me how to be a real, respectable man in this life. My big sister showed how to enjoy the good life. My little sister taught me how to appreciate life. My baby’s mother saved my life. As for music there are two, Black Thought of The Roots and MoStafa. That’s why I choose to take him on tours with me. He’s undeniably my favorite emcee in the Northwest. No one’s lyrics penetrate the soul like his. Plus he’s an artist that has every reason to be jaded, but chooses to be better than that. That’s powerful. Every time he comes to my house he rocks my son to sleep. He’s family.
MR: Why do you rap?
LW: I rap because the sun doesn’t shine in the Northwest too often. I rap to stop being depressed. When I started rapping to provide for my son and his mother it became the most beautiful tool I’ve ever known. I rap because people have cried at my shows time and time again telling me that they are going through the same thing. When you strip down the instruments and it’s just a man and his mic on stage people can really connect with the emotion you display on stage. I rap because of the countless emails about saving someone’s life through music. Figuratively and literally. Getting them out of addiction, depression, abusive relationships, etc. Allowing them to know they’re not alone. I’ve honestly stayed up at nights for hours reading these emails and crying right along with them. Yea, that’s why I rap.”
You can find Landon Wordswell’s new album online at bluebottlerecords.bandcamp.com/album/and-all-that-jazz. See him perform live on April 11 at The Shakedown. For more about him, follow his Facebook page.