Creating a narrative in the present to connect with his past, Chicago bred, L.A.–based artist Tolliver drops his latest EP, Daddyland, a musical letter to his late father as well as a loving expression of Tolliver’s own self discovery as an individual. In his new release, Tolliver imagines a space where he and his father — two good, but flawed, men — can meet in the middle to appreciate all that makes them human and all that makes them different. Fun, out of the box and never dull, Daddyland is as bold as it is thoughtful and paints an imaginative picture with vibrant imagery as each song vibrates with its own insatiable energy.

Filled with dynamite instrumentals, the EP is funky, groovy and insanely catchy. It is a piece of work that hypes up your senses and makes you want to strut as much as it is makes you contemplate your life and want to unpack your complicated relationship.

The EP was inspired largely in part by Tolliver’s father, who passed away when Tolliver was just 11. After spending years feeling like his father would not approve of his lifestyle or sexuality, Tolliver learned there was more complexity and shades to the cowboy-loving-gospel-choir-singing pastor that was his dad. Understanding the virtues and vices of his father gave Tolliver the space to think about him from a different perspective, and that opened up an internal dialogue that helped shape greater clarity in his life. With Daddyland, Tolliver lets go of his fears and reconciles with the notion that his father would be disappointed in how he turned out.

“I know how much you loved me, but I wonder sometimes if that love would’ve soured when you realized this son of a pastor loves kissing big, hairy men – I stop at kissing because I’m a gentleman – or if you found out I used to sell coke, or if you found out I edited gay porn, on and on and on and on,” Tolliver writes to his father and about the album. “I have been ashamed of your opinions of me yet will never know what they really would have been. And so I wanted to make this record for us. Because we’re both very flawed people who give a lot of love, who work hard but also play a little too hard, who love big fat butts and lending people money. I wanted to show you who I am, and get closer to who you are, because I miss you and still can’t believe you’re gone. Anyway, hope you’re having a good day in purgatory. Love you dad.”

Wrapping deep sentiments of empowerment, acceptance and love into his music, Tolliver finds a way to work creatively through his own struggles as well as acknowledge that although we can all be pretty flawed, we should be our authentic selves and work to love ourselves every day we are alive. Speaking directly to his father in this work, Tolliver also speaks to a part of himself, pushing away shame, confusion and instead embracing ingenuity, freedom and joy.

Recorded at a home studio in Glendale, CA with the help of producer Jake Bowman (Kendrick Lamar, Ryan Beatty, Burna Boy), Teddy Roxpin (drums and percussion) and Todd Simon (trumpet), Daddyland is a masterful combination of music and message with positive vibes and an inner strength. The EP is available for purchase and streaming online now.

Words: Patti Sanchez

For more on Tolliver, make sure to visit his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.