Album Review: Senioritis by Dylan Owen
By Tom Roth
In the entertainment business, the only thing more valuable than cold, hard cash are LKP’s. Not everyone earns them and LKP’s typically expire sometime between 13 and 19 but sometimes last longer for athletes. Some entertainers are adept at making the most of their LKP’s (Shaun White) while others (McCauley Culkin) squander theirs, relieving themselves of one of the industry’s few career boosters. With LKP’s, average work is made above average and above average work is made exceptional.
If you’re still unclear what LKP’s are, they are Little Kid Points. Unique to young entertainers, LKP’s are nicely summed up by the phrase “that’s pretty good… for a kid.” Thus, surprise is a legitimate reaction to 19 year old New York rapper Dylan Owen’s debut album, Senioritis.
Having just graduated from high school at the time of Senioritis’ release, it’s easy to think that Owen would be hard-pressed to find enough relevant topics to address but he makes up for his lack of life experience with mature lyrics. “Old Armor” takes a couple of listens to fully appreciate but Owen’s words of back-home nostalgia come through, relating his familiarity with the place he grew up. Claiming “I wear my past on my sleeve and my heart like a crown” and that “I don’t need a map to know my way around”, Owen makes good use of something common to all listeners.
Arguably the most important track on the album, Owen’s opening joint “The Book Report” sets the tone for Senioritis. According to Owen, the track is “inspired by countless nights on Suicide Hill with my friends, and by the endless feeling of longing for childhood that comes with age” and Owen’s imaginative lyrics of “September, the summer-killing month” and “cigarette kisses” belie his age.
Collaborator, Nico Marchese produces the lion’s-share of Senioritis’ better tracks including “The Book Report”, “Postcards”, “Old Armor”, “Garden of the Gods”, and “Spirit Week”. On the latter, Marchese’s enticing beats redeem otherwise pedantic lyrics about Bud Lime, taking shots, flip cup, and sluts. Strangely though, “Spirit Week” fits nicely into Senioritis’ larger theme. As a school term, the album’s September track, “The Book Report” leads to mid-year’s “Spirit Week”, coming full circle with June’s “I’m Still Spinning”, which Owen claims to have first titled “The Graduation Song”. The continuity makes Senioritis digestible.