Lando Ash is a Pittsburgh rapper whose song “Second Level,” included on last year’s Unicorn project, received the video treatment in March.
The video starts with a fake-out–a menacing intro whose beat sounds like a big ol’ robot striding towards you–before stopping on a dime and morphing into the song proper, an unabashed self-fulfillment anthem backed by a swirling boom-bap instrumental. An ebullient Lando rattles off some of the more wholesome brags you’ll hear (“When you around the right people that make you feel safe […] When you can really be yourself, and you see nobody judging”), punctuating each scenario with a gleeful, “What a feeling!” His examples range from the personal to the defiantly structural, mental illness destigmatization flexes bumping up against indictments of the so-called justice system. Each obstacle conquered brings the same joy. Lando has elevated himself to the Second Level, and, as he promises, the Third isn’t far behind.