Silentarmy :: The Effects of Self EP ::
as reviewed by Susan 'susiQ' Kim

While many hip hop artists attempt to dissect one's "self" through their music, most don't get it right and are unsuccessful. Far from being silent in lyricism and cadence as his name states, Silentarmy figures him‘self' out entirely in "The Effects of Self EP."

Rapping since the age of nine and self taught in producing, engineering, and mixing, Silentarmy is beyond doubt an imaginative jack of all trades. With the opportunity to further his talents and popularity by being booked as an unsigned artist for the Vans Warped Tour, he surprisingly created his debut EP "The Man Against Himself" in a mere 3 months before touring. To further his career, Silentarmy ventured out to Minneapolis where he joined the group Substance Abuse, although parting ways as he was asked to join Eyedea on the Eyedea and Friends Tour in 2005. The development of Silentarmy's career ensued with the opportunity to share the stage with top underground hip hop artists including Brother Ali, Aesop Rock, Cage, Zion I, Hangar 18, Rhymesayers, Doomtree, and more.

As his second EP, "The Effects of Self" shows a distinct side to Silentarmy with his own creation and brainchild, with production from Bradlee Baxter, Ecid, P.O.S., and Marko.

Dedicating a bulk of the album towards self-exploration and self-reflection, Silentarmy reveals the struggle and hardship through life to ultimately bring him to this point as an artist. Setting the tone for "The Effects of Self," the opening track of the same name establishes the outcome and consequences from the legacy of Silentarmy as initiates his story with "It was May 9th, 1985…"

With heavy rocked out electric guitars that begin "Shots. Nope. Not Led" featuring P.O.S. of Rhymesayers/Doomtree, Silentarmy exposes the struggle to make it in the music industry regardless of the all the adversities encountered throughout the journey. Revealing his rawness and crudeness, Silentarmy shows that as he has made it this far, there is no turning back or giving up as he says, "ain't looking back ‘til I'm on the top seat."

Reminiscent of a somber ballad with soft piano keys, "Thou Shall Stab the Following" highlights Silentarmy's variety in cadence with a few of his verses in double time to complement the slower tonality of the track. Speculating about the past and lapses in judgment, he points out the occasional feeling of discouragement and despair. In an attempt to sing the chorus, Silentarmy shows that "every now and then I feel so dejected/ it's not quite what I had in my mind."

"Ice" featuring Sims from Doomtree is a similar track that delves deep into the idea of escaping reality because of hopelessness and feeling vulnerable to the world. Present in many tracks, the sudden change in sound towards the end of the song is refreshing as the harsh reverberation suddenly stops and continues with a slow, atmospheric feel as a female voice echoes a repetitious "running, running, running." With acoustic guitars synchronized to a hard hitting bass, Silentarmy's lyricism brings balance to the two opposite spectrums of sounds as he says:

"I keep on running away
Though I know things are okay
If I just keep on holding on
Don't ever, ever look back
Until I know where I'm at
To convince myself that I am not alone"

"Reacher" unleashes the idea of being overly self-conscious and the insecurities within all of us. Silentarmy makes us realize the lack of confidence that exists for many as he acknowledges that "the man in the mirror is never who he's supposed to be, but I know that person's still me." Yet in another twist of sound, the track ends with some off the wall cuts to complete the track.

As a highlight of the album, "3 lbs Grey" is an attention-grabbing track with the creative concept of the "good" and "bad" conscience lying within us all. In an inventive fashion, Silentarmy plays both "characters" by utilizing a mixture of verses, tonality, and beats to correspond to the "good" conscience marked by serene sounds and the "bad" conscience exemplified by a reverberation of disarray.

Amidst the continuous theme of contemplation and coming face to face with hard knocks in "The Effects of Self," there are moments of digression. The atmospheric instrumentals in "A Drink With Bradlee Baxter" feature gradual introductions of escalating sounds with vocals expressing that "there will be no darkness tonight." Although different from the other tracks in terms of its more conceptual sound, the abstract production from Silentarmy on "Jameson Neat" is impressive to say the least. Even as a light hearted track, it still is able to interconnect well with the other sounds throughout "The Effects of Self" because of its complexity and appealing nature.

Although Silentarmy remains true to his independence, talents, and lyricism, he has definitely come up in the ranks alongside long time, established artists. With concise, poignant lyricism that touches upon a myriad of subject matter and backed by ingenious production that retains enough complexity, I can only imagine what else is coming our way as he is this early in his career. Silentarmy…the next Rhymesayer or the next Def Jukie perhaps?

Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10

Originally posted: April 24, 2007