My Mp3 player lists all of the song information on its screen, including the genre of music the song belongs too. I’m not sure how these genres are concocted, but there are definitely times when it feels like my Mp3 player is confused, and is just listing off several words to reassure me that it knows things. Underneath Skyzoo, The Great Debater was listed as “Lyricism”; it’s the smartest conclusion my mp3 player could have come too.
When Skyzoo released his album The Salvation, he pounded out incredible introspection in seemingly every verse, causing him to follow it up with an album, Live from the Tape Deck of him rapping for raps sake with the emotional detachment we are used to from NY’s Hip Hop underground. Now that he’s announced his next album A Dream Deferred, his mixtape, The Great Debater feels like a lyrical exercise in preparation.
So many of the songs on here (“Until it all goes”, “For the Awake”, “Could’ve Struck The Lotto”, “Test Drive”) feel simple enough in production to be pounded out on tables while Sky spits. A saxophone might blow in the background or the twinkling of piano keys might compliment the bass, but for the most part this is Boom Bap with less soul and more boom. This is its weakness and its strength. In a world of blazingly creative production, he puts all of the pressure on himself. If you love this mixtape it will be because of Skyzoo, and his dense, thoughtfully skilled mic showmanship: “No $40 replicas/but all of my et ceteras/exemplify the inner sides of all of my forever does…”
Lyrical density; however, can be an artist’s problem, especially when your flow is like Skyzoo’s. If you are lyrically talented with a Busta Rhymes or Eminem flow that accentuates every word you might be able to get away with minimal beats. But Skyzoo is from that effortless flow school of hip hop, where it’s easy to overlook the work he’s putting in. It makes sense that he has a piece of a Jay-z interview at the end of “Complicated Rhythm” where Jay is explaining the lyrics he’s given the public, and how they sometimes sail over their head. There are times when the beat, chorus and Sky all come together, and he feels like the heir to Jay’s smooth flow. On songs like “Atypical” and “Designer Drugs” he forms a concept that matches the beat and coordinates the hook. But on the other hand, there are songs like “Get Him to The Greek” where his chorus feels as bad as the ones that ruined Jadakiss on his first LP Kiss the Game Goodbye.
Featured rapper, Manhattan performs well on “Until it All Goes” as does King Mez on one of the most interesting sequences of the album “For the Awake” which leads into “For The Sleepers.” The lowest guest star point on this mixtape easily goes to Jesse Boykins III who lends his best R. Kelly impression to the hook on “Expensive Habits”. The song is downright Lloyd Banksian in its awkward girl song construction.
The Great Debater is a rollercoaster, but to be clear the downs are completely acceptable. He goes from great to good to okay, but never lower The question Skyzoo needs to answer whether he is the next Jay-Z, or if he is the next CL Smooth. CL Smooth is one of the greatest MC’s who ever lived, but he’s ¾ of the MC Jay is. Jay has that extra something it takes to craft albums, to feel the context of the songs: when to stunt and when to preach and how to capitalize on melodies that showcase his lyricism. It’s what makes him a rapper and a musician. I’m excited to have a new CL Smooth if that is what Skyzoo turns out to be, but I’d rather see New York get a new Jay-Z because I’m greedy enough as a consumer to have big dreams for the people I follow. Skyzoo understands his own desires to exceed the expectations of others, as well as his own. On “Until it All Goes” he determines: “Maybe all that you was wanting was wrapped underneath you/ and that could at least do to prove that you need it…” He needs to succeed, and in order to do so, he needs reach the next level as a songwriter. If this mixtape was out to prove Skyzoo as an intelligent lyricist it does…but as a current fan I already knew that. The only way for him to make everyone discover this is to broaden the scope and challenge the sound that he has become so comfortable with.
You Can find Skyzoo The Great Debater by clicking the link below.