In a word, up-and-coming Chicago-based rapper Landon Battles is versatile.
His live-wire personality, insightful yet witty lyrics and overall creativity set him apart from the increasingly crowded Chicago rap scene, where at times it’s hard to tell one rapper from the next. Describing his sound as “trill conscious,” Landon not only wants to make a powerful impact in music, but in his community as well as he also serves as a mentor to young men dealing with gang violence. The 20-something emcee strives to be more than a musician, but a icon for youth to admire and emulate.
“With my talent, I hope to spark knowledge,” Battles says. “I want to contribute to the progression of not only music, but my people as well. I want to be more than a rapper. I want to be an artist.”
Rolling out recently sat down with the “Sacred Circle” rapper to discuss his influences, his Black Gold project, and his upcoming show with Roc Nation artist Jay Electronica.
Battles brings to the forefront our every experience, struggle and enjoyment. Through his colorful music he conveys timeless, thought-provoking entertainment. His distinction is clear, simply a diamond in the rough waiting to be discovered.
Who were your musical influences that made you want to rap?
Hands down, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. My cousin Mario put me on Creepin’ On Ah Come Up and it was over. Then my moms bought 2Pac’s Me Against the World and that was the first album that really hit and stuck with me. That was the first album that I learned something from and I learned how to rap about real s–t. Pops used to bump Bob Marley a lot and that’s where I learned how to just feel the music and just sing my song to the world.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about the Chicago hip-hop scene?
My favorite thing is the energy in it. I feel the energy and it moves the hell out of me, straight up. I like the authenticity of it. It just feels real, you feel me? What I don’t like about it is the message and how it hypnotizes these lil ni–as out here. I hate how it promotes doing evil, satanic, demonic s–t like killing, robbing, and killing your damn self by doing all these damn drugs. That’s weak as hell to me. Even weaker because I see how these little ni–as are turning to base heads at younger ages now. I see how it influences people to think in the wrong way.
Do you think more artists, especially Chicago artists, should make an effort to speak more positivity into their music?
Hell yeah I do, but I get why folks don’t, especially if they’re in it for the bread. It’s definitely needed because of the way folks look at life around here. If you got an audience, you got to give them something to grow from or learn about. That’s how I look at it. Learn life.
For those unaware, what can you tell us about your project Black Gold that dropped at the end of last year?
That album is the best thing that happened in my career so far. Just from new fans, new opportunities and all that good stuff. I called it Black Gold because I’m talking about your melanin. Melanin is so valuable in terms of money but it’s even more valuable to learn about to empower you. Look it up and watch how good you feel! I got my homie GKnow Buie on the album, Ras Kass and The Boy Illinois on there. I have songs about how we should stop marching and really do something about our situation (“Coming 4 Blood”), your melanin (“Melanin”), getting high and meditating/astral projecting (“Jesus’ Jordans”), and a banging joint about a lot of unauthentic and fake stuff that I see on the daily (“Get Yo Goofa– Out My Face”). I speak on a lot of different things on this album. I got a lot to say, man.
What’s it mean to you to have the opportunity to share the stage with an artist of Jay Electronica’s caliber?
It means a lot. Just to be on the bill lets me know that I’m reaching my target audience. I’m glad more folks can witness me on stage, though. That’s most defintely my strong point with this music thing, my stage show. It’s gonna be a powerful show just because of our messages in our music and the energy we bring when we perform.
Landon Battles plays The Metro (3730 N. Clark) in Chicago with The Boy Illinois and Jay Electronica on Sunday, April 3.