Hard Pill To Swallow
By Mike O’Cull www.mikeocull.com
Farr Well, a.k.a. Farrington Llewellyn, is a Minneapolis hip-hop artist with a deep social and personal purpose to his music. His latest release, Hard Pill To Swallow, is a six-track EP slated to come out July 17th, 2020 that eschews the tales of street bravado so common in the rap game and instead focuses on real-life issues including black identity, activism, gun violence, and mental illness. His songs are built around a funky, vintage soul vibe, authentic truth, and a desire to make life better for all of humanity. No stranger to the mic, Farr Well has appeared with Flo-Rida, Blood Raw, and hip-hop icon Rakim, performed hundreds of shows in the US and Japan, and had his music used in the Greater Twin Cities United Way documentary film on food justice in North Minneapolis With Appetite For Change.
Hard Pill To Swallow tells the story of Farr Well’s life from 2015 to 2020. It relates the mental health journey of a community organizer, activist, and traumatized human who found peace by learning to accept the impossible. He made the record in conjunction with Sao Mao (a producer from Long Beach, California who lives with Bipolar Disorder) and Marcus Kar (director of Youth Farm Minnesota, musician/artist, and war veteran) who both added their own insights to the process.
The set opens with “Think,” a spacious slow jam that immediately deals with becoming suicidal, self-medication, and psychosis. Farr Well puts his real self on the line and hides nothing from his listeners. The intense paranoia of the lyrics is a direct contrast to the easy soul feel of the beat underneath and the tension this creates helps us on the outside understand this experience better. “Think” also shows us right away that Farr Well has the skill, guts, and vision to make life-changing music. Few performers are fearless enough to be this open.
“Bipolar Rock & Roller” is an edgy track that unflinchingly brings us the reality of a manic episode. “High speed chase on the highway, Living every day like it’s Friday,” Farr spits, proceeding to work through the details of what happens when he goes off his meds and becomes conspiratorial and grandiose. It’s a frightening look behind the eyes of what many people regularly live with but is personal enough to remain unnerving. Farr Well is one of the most lyrically proficient artists on the modern scene and fills this track and the entire EP with the kind of truth most artists will never attain. Be sure to also spin “Street Forecast” and “Kid Again.”
Hard Pill To Swallow is a major statement from someone who has been there, survived, and lived to tell. Farr Well delivers a hard gospel reminiscent of legendary truth-tellers like Chuck D and KRS-One without ever sounding like anyone but himself. Making the personal universal in an original way is the secret to musical greatness and Farr Well has that trick locked down. Expect him to become a serious contender in the world of real hip-hop. Highly recommended.