Farr Well caught Your EDM’s attention just a couple of months ago with his heady mix of jazz, lyricism and social activism as he released his seminal EP, Hard Pill to Swallow. No sooner was that release wrapped up, however, than he began work on a new series of tracks that are different even for his usual indie-leaning style. Going heavy on the chill jazz, the Chameleon Lifestyles Simulation series required a different approach in the artist’s eyes. He released the first tracks in a series once per week in August, culminating in the release of the full album just a few weeks ago. Sort of a compressed version of what Gorillaz have been doing with Song Machine, it’s an effective strategy to keep fans’ attention and give each track the space it deserves.
With each track on Chameleon Lifestyles Simulation being dense, full of syntax and with many layers of meaning, it was a good strategy for Farr Well to give the individual tracks their own space. Lyrically, each track is a stream of consciousness that also tells a story. Farr Well moves through said stories with breakneck speed while also enunciating and painting a picture for the audience of exactly what he’s thinking. It’s impossible to catch everything he’s saying in one pass; it’s like reading a good book or watching a good movie, every time you sit down with it, you’ll notice something new. Giving each track its own week to marinate in listeners’ minds before releasing the next probably solidified that many-layered experience Farr well has a natural knack for.
The full album tells a story itself, with a progression in music and tone from the opening title track to closer “Black Man’s Car.” The first tow tracks, the title track and “Drunken Emperor” are so heavy on the smooth jazz, the listener will half expect Farr Well to sing his lyrics but indeed his unique rap style comes in and blends surprisingly well with said smooth jazz. “Doin’ Too Much” is a little easier on the jazz, focusing more on the funky hip hop beat and contrasting with the slightly frenetic lyrics. The unique style contained in these tracks really can’t be compared to any things, but “Doin’ Too Much” catches some whiffs of Common while the next track “Papa Hit the Lotto” has a little Wu Tang vibe.
“Questar” featuring Manny Phesto featured on YEDM’s first profile on Farr Well as the beginning of the track release series and still stands out as one of the album’s highlights. It’s followed by “Mpls Is Magic,” an ode to the hometown Farr Well credits his talent to and to which he has given so much back featuring Mike The Martyr. The penultimate track “Vunerable Pose” feat MC Longshot is back to indie hip hop and also back to extreme introspection in the lyrics: fears of intimacy, the paradox oh love versus fear. Nothing is too emotionally charged for Farr Well to cover and while his work is so dense and sometimes heavy, the honesty is also so refreshing.
The album ends with “Black Man’s Car 2.0” feat VHS Hazard which again has a 90s indie feel a’la Rza or Living Legends but the mile-high, “find the beauty in the chaos” perspective is surprising and fresh, with only the likes of Ice Cube attempting such a thing before in rap with “It Was a Good Day.” That’s the caliber of work Farr Well produces and one can only hope for the sake of hip hop and its audience that the pendulum swings back towards introspective, conscious rap as the norm as it was in the late 90s. In the meantime, Farr Well will continue to make waves and make a difference with his activism, his honesty and projects like Chameleon Lifestyles Simulation.