Review Summary: For his father; For himself.
‘Petrichor’, the opening track of Sadistik’s new LP Flowers For My Father, ends with Cody Foster delivering a spoken word verse which pays homage to the loss of his father back in 2007. Putting this powerful verse up front is a risky proposition -- it explicitly states that this record is going to be a vessel for personal purging, where everything will be laid out before the listener to witness and judge. It might even push away those who may just want entertainment; to find enjoyment in the songs. However, it’s also an indicator of honesty, a statement of realism and an unwavering devotion to the music itself.
As it turns out, this makes for an engaging and intense listen. Overflowing with emotional revelations, self-hatred, and cold cynicism, Flowers’ raps are the closest we will ever come to being inside Foster’s head. Whether presenting a metaphor through vivid imagery or knocking it out of the park with a witty one-liner, his wordplay is cunning and thought-provoking without being pretentious -- 'I'm not too good with the mental episodes / about as sharp it can get with pen and pencil though' is especially apt in ‘Song for the End of the World’'.
Technically, his flow diverse and on point, bouncing from the spitfire intensity of ‘Snow White’ to the impressive assonance of ‘The Beast', held together by a sense of depression and despair within his tone and thematic choices . A criticism of Fosters’ work has been that his ‘topics are myopic, non-sequitur and scattered’' (addressed in ‘The Beast’), yet here, his presentation is very clear and articulate. He may not be spelling it out line by line, but his meaning shines through in the music, painting a picture far more affecting than mere words.
This continuity is also down to the overarching production on the LP. Dark and desolate, swelling strings and lonely piano provide a dense undercurrent for the marching beats, adding yet more emotional weight. It’s hard to argue with production choices, with support from Cunninglyguists’ Kno and Blue Sky Black Death fitting brilliantly with the aesthetic of the record. As a result, the record is pristine and polished without losing the gritty edge of its narrative.
Foster makes it a point to show that regardless of how well this album is received, it was something he had to create, both for his father and for himself. When addressing critics, he responds with a direct 'maybe it’s for me and not you', an upfront dismissal of any and all who would look down on his work. This detached attitude allows for a unique approach in the songwriting, giving way for creative and stylistic freedom unhindered by mainstream and critical pressures that could have dampened the emotional blows. It’s exciting to see what can be done with an unabashed diversion from the constraints of the hip-hop genre, and hopefully others will follow Fosters’ lead towards breaking new ground.