Known more for lending vocals to guest appearances than making bold statements of his own, Colin Munroe now faces the hurdle of reaching solo success with his prior buzz having dwindled. Failing to capitalize on hooks for fellow Canadian Drake as well as Detroit's Slum Village and Black Milk amongst others since 2008, it was last year's "No Makeup" from Kendrick Lamar's Section.80 and a spot on Slaughterhouse's welcome to: Our House that served as reminders of his potential. Staying patient in hopes of his time finally approaching, Unsung Hero is Colin Munroe's renewed chance at staking his claim.
Pop and Rock sensibilities take the lead on Unsung Hero and mixed results arise from the role reversal of the project's Rap cameos being forced to complement Colin Munroe's personal artistic vision. The title of the alternative release possibly doubling as a metaphor for the singer's music and its theme of disappointment within romance, Colin bravely wears his heart on his sleeve, dispelling misconceptions that limit him strictly to Hip Hop. The jaded and angst ridden set starts with his determination to emerge triumphant having been through the wringer on "The Fight Of My Life" assisted by Pusha T, a prelude to the emotional turmoil to follow.
Light material is scarcely found with these songs best viewed as snapshots of a love gone awry. Between the bittersweet sense of relief on the futuristic "Over It," and "Fucking Amazing" - where it seems Colin is convincing himself he's survived depression - his grim outlook barely improves over the course of this journey. The RZA influenced and featured "Invincible" has him war torn and putting up his guard while "Wasted White" finds him on the verge of a meltdown, melodramatic moments logically coinciding with "Scars N Stars" as he and TDE's Ab-Soul share stories of trudging past harsh obstacles and onto greatness.
Whether fictional or inspired by personal experience, Colin Munroe has prepared a soundtrack to outliving trauma with Unsung Hero, simultaneously breaking free of the style used to build his name originally. Colin's heavy mood aside, the versatility here should keep the window of opportunity open for his still developing voice to prosper.
DX Consensus: "Free album" (the highest possible praise for a mixtape)