"Just a wallflower, alone at the party. Observing a life he'll never know of, he's sorry," so Sean "KoLyric" Slimak raps in a cold but aware state on his track "God's Lonely Man," one of the twelve cuts on his debut album "Withered Wallflower." "God's Lonely Man," which features a verse from rapper Notebook, was released on Youtube several months back, technically making the song the lead single off the album. It's a fitting track to lead the album with, as the song packs in a wallop, regardless of whether you know who Chicago-based rapper KoLyric is or not. The track does a wonderful job at giving us a sense of what KoLyric is really about, a poet unfortunately confined to the bitter sidelines of an observer or an outcast at social gatherings and only allowed to observe what is happening rather than be allowed to make things happen.
The remaining eleven tracks pack an equal wallop to a person confined to Top 40 hits or the collectively uninspired rap that has found its way on the radio in the past few years. "Withered Wallflower" benefits right off the bat from solid, consistently impressive sound editing and mixing for a largely independent release online and through limited physical copies sold by Slimak himself. Slimak, in addition, allows features from several other independent rappers (my personal favorite being the completely unpredictable and talented Anxiety State) along with a collage of soundbites taken from a broad spectrum of films.
The music, on the other hand, is nothing shy of impressive. For a debut album, this is tour-de-force quality. After a minute long intro, we are greeted with "The Vulcan," a track that immediately illustrates numerous things about KoLyric as a rapper. For one, it establishes vocal agility, or the ability to change from words spoken at incredible speeds, to a slower, more melodic sense of calmness, all the while keeping in line with the surprisingly advanced instrumentals.
The album continues, with the standout track being "Cynic," effectively creating a more-than-meets-the-eye portrait of KoLyric. This is the song that sets him apart from the rest, establishing the fact that he doesn't want to belong to the long array of party music, but rather, the sector of music that allows for deep expression and unbridled emotion to sneak through. "Sickened by the evil, the innocent diminished. Angry and so tired of the world, I'm a cynic" is an excellent summation of the attitude I try so often to suppress as the country's, and the world's, moral compass seems to be dwindling by the day. The song goes on, gradually picking up speed, with Slimak not even hesitating or coming close to tripping up on his words. Combined with a dark, pessimistic instrumental, the song lives up to its name and illustrates a track, I believe, many others could easily call their anthem.
"Fall (The Autumn of Cronus)" seems like the kind of track that could benefit from a beautiful, film-noir-esque style music video to go along with it. KoLyric continues his forceful rapping, a feat he makes scarcely come off as mean-spirited ramblings of a starving artist, but rather, intelligent, detailed musings on the world around him. The track samples Adele's warm, infectious Skyfall
that seems uneven at first, but winds up working for the song in such a way that's indescribable and just needs to be heard.
"The Death of Hubris" is the other track I found to be completely out-of-the-blue and a true slap in the face in regards to personal criticism of a cocky individual. KoLyric uses something resembling autotune or high-pitch vocal mixing on the track, a questionable decision at first, until I realize that the way in which he utilizes it makes him sound like the very person he's criticizing, creating a remarkable depiction of reality by impersonation. "Hey, man, I work out to tell you I work out. I'm training every day, just to say it to the girls. Wow!," he utters, reminding the listener maybe of a cloying person they've come across in life with a similar attitude. The chorus may stand as KoLyric's most soulful and violent in terms of execution, as he spits, "Tired of the music, fired up and useless, tearing down the blueprints. Rearranging truth. Rearranging truth. Rearranging truth. Rearranging truth. Rearranging truth." The track is a brilliant critique of social cockiness and disgusting narcissism, another feat that could very well contribute to Slimak's proclaimed cynicism.
With eleven tracks, the album is never tired and is constantly kept in line with an array of fantastic instrumentals, a cacophony of powerful lyrics, and features on the album that never do the piece an injustice. KoLyric seems to be the kind of rapper who will constantly try new things later on in life. If this is the case, he may not be "alone at the party" for very long.
NOTE: The album can be sampled and purchased on the popular website BandCamp in a name-your-price fashion over $7, http://kolyric.bandcamp.com/album/withered-wallflower
Music Review by Steve Pulaski