‘FLIGHT’: How Rob Kowalski’s capstone project became a purposeful creation

Kowalski reps his album cover for "Flight" on a white t-shirt. - Photo courtesy of Patrick Walsh

Senior music business major and music producer Rob Kowalski released “Flight” on Spotify and Apple Music on February 27.

It is a nine-track album that marks his first solo project in the role of the artist. The project was required for his capstone project in Rowan’s Music Industry degree program, with an accompanying marketing plan for its release.

“I listen to my own stuff constantly. I feel like I have to be a perfectionist,” Kowalski said of his work.

Despite no music being perfect, it’s incredible to hear a project from a 22-year-old student at Rowan that has the same quality as music on the radio played hundreds of thousands of times. There are collaborations, well-produced beats, and phenomenally mixed vocals that could fool anyone into thinking that each song was created in a studio in Los Angeles or New York City. Kowalski’s background as a producer and his work ethic are likely what allowed him to make each song at such a high standard.

Kowalski was open to divulge the journey, inspiration and purpose of the album.

“The overall theme of the project is taking flight” he said. He discussed the importance of moving upward and forward constantly, even when that movement comes in the form of harsh times. Tracks five and six on the album, “Fog (Interlude)” and “Flight,” connect to this theme as well as to the concept of a “fight or flight” response to new and uncomfortable situations. 

“Fog (Interlude)” provides the listener with the fighting response, as throughout the song there is an ongoing battle between a beat that I can only describe as a broken train trying its best to move forward, and an ominous choir. Both elements fight for your ears’ prominent focus while Kowalski sings in a voice with reverb almost as heavy as the pain in his mind that his lyrics describe. After the first verse you can hear the elements from before work together to create an incredible melody. There are then intermittent pauses that shift our conflict from the elements of the music to the music itself against a terrifying silence. Kowalski’s reverbed voice tells us “I can’t fight it no more.”

“Flight” has a much lighter and (no pun intended) uplifting sound. It is clear in this song that the fog hasn’t settled in his mind, but he has chosen to embrace that and continue to move up and forward. A soft chorus with “just let me fly” repeats before a melodic drop soothes and inspires the listener.

Despite the story the album entails, there is no shortage of fun songs on this project. The opening track “Crash,” which Kowalski has stated is his favorite piece of work, has pop and hip-hop undertones that give it dance and sing-along potential. It quickly cemented itself as the most popular song on the project. It features Francc, a more prominent artist who, when given the beat for “Crash,” told Rob “you need to finish this now.”

It was an incredible collaboration with both artists embodying the same vibe, with vocals complimenting each other and verses that flow beautifully between the two, showing the listener how in-sync they are.

Other highlights include “Deadline” and “Queen of the Night,” which have extremely addictive and memorable choruses, and “Instagram” (feat.  Paddy Dubz) which displays the young artist’s attempt at a dancehall song.

All three of these songs perfectly blend the artists’ voices with reverb, a baseline and what sounds like different notes on a xylophone that are very catchy. “Deadline” features a verse from Big Draco where he shows the versatility in his voice by rapping in two completely different tones to sounds like different people, and co-production from Centuri on the main melody that gives it a high quality foundation that Kowalski and Draco built upon.

“I’m pulling from everywhere… I’m a big fan of Juice [WRLD]… I listened to a lot of $uicideboys… but I also love Blackbear,” Kowalski said to sum up the inspirations for his sound.

Elements of these artists can be heard within his more upbeat songs, and Kowalski even said he isn’t sure what genre would best describe the project. But to put it into a box would be disrespectful to the craftsmanship and versatility that Robkowalskii (his stage name) displayed on his first ever solo project.

Kowalski transformed a class assignment into an opportunity to showcase not only his own musical ability, but also that of other figures close to him in the industry, and it has been an experience not only for them but for the listeners who delve into and fully listen to the project.

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