Song Review-Bamboo by Skyzoo produced by MarcNfinit
Skyzoo is so gifted that at times he’s too much for himself. At points in his discography his high IQ on jazz meets his high IQ pen and he puts out projects no one can understand. His new eight song project Peddler Themes is Skyzoo in my favorite place.
Bamboo is the most precise example: the beat takes boom bap nostalgia to real trunk rattling levels, the chorus is totally unique, intelligent and catchy while his verse is not just intelligent (everything Sky does is intelligent) the images are vivid not just telling the story but showing it to you. Examine the first verse and how the song opens “And he said, the strap black like fab 5 apparel/Sweet 16 running laps outta the barrel/Said it sing lullabies that’ll wrap you like a carol/Ducking that is like juggling laps with a Camaro” good writing grounds you in the scene with detail and Peddler Themes is full of emotionally rich detail. Skyzoo didn’t set out to make a drug rap album or a drug dealer movie but a painting built from hundreds of careful brush strokes.
That being said Peddler Themes color is still very fun. Just listen to Skyzoo (produced by his old friend Illmind) flex effortlessly on Finesse Everything. I think a lot of rappers at the higher end of lyrical density have a tough time getting out of their own way but when a razor sharp expert stays loose, has faith in the design, and pushes forward the result is usually something exciting and Peddler Themes is absolutely that.
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Tagged Bamboo, Boom Bap, Finesse Everything, Illmind, intelligence, jazz influenced hip hop, MarcNfinit, New York Hip Hop, NY Hip Hop, Peddler Themes, Skyzoo, song reviews
Song review-See a Key(Ki’) by Skyzoo featuring Jadakiss produced by Thelonius Martin
The narrative that NY hip hop is dead has been bolstered by the poor sales of Troy Ave’s album Major Without A Deal (which you won’t catch me writing about, I don’t kick people when they are down), but it’s still false. This year has seen a slew of important NY releases: Ka, Action Bronson, Raekwon, and Ghostface. These albums did more than “keep up the tradition” they were sonically unique and took the sound you were used too in a different direction. So why does that narrative persist? NY started EVERYTHING. Of course it’s not what it once was since it used to be EVERYTHING. We now have hip hop in London, Cleveland, Huntsville, etc and that’s great. We still have a rich buffet of NY hip hop but we have other options as well.
So Skyzoo has a new album Music For My Friends which showcases everything you love about him(and the traditional hip hop that is supposed to have passed). His lyrics have a Jeet Kune Do (#knowBruceLee) adaptability, dense and light at the same time. Always intensely thoughtful but able to chuckle and joke at the same time. Loose and dangerous is how Sky works best, at his worst he’s lost in his mind and at his best he’s lost in the music. Music For My Friends has the sonic template he loves, very specifically the boom bap Primo trafficked in; powerful drums and bass all conducted with a jazz ear. All the other sounds set off and ripple like a stone skipped on water; just the way Coltrane’s Naima feels. That’s what makes the album so good; if you just want a banger here you go. Jadakiss is sharp as ever (“when you don’t recognize your blessings you send them away” DAMN!) and if you want this song to be more about drugs than dreaming you can hear it that way. The cool thing is it’s not. For lyrics heads we can read Sky’s lyrics and find triple meanings among the Jazzmatazz of it all. That complexity of lyricism tracks back to New York and it still lives there.
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Tagged Action Bronson, Ghostface, Jadakiss, Jazzmatazz, John Coltrane, Major Without A Deal, Music For My Friends, NY Hip Hop, Raekwon, Skyzoo, Song Review, Thelonius Martin, Troy Ave
Song of the Year-Blue Yankee Fitted by Skyzoo & Torae produced by Illmind
Even though it’s become unhip to admit it; you love NY hip hop. If you are not from NY and you encounter someone from there and speak to them long enough they will make you yearn for it. Tell you things like “You don’t know anything about Italian Icees!” As singular as the boom bap sound became (and to some extent boring) when it’s done well it feels so right. When Skyzoo says New Yiddy you can feel Big Daddy Kane gold rope chain power equipping the song with something extra.
The album this comes off of, The Barrel Brothers, is absolutely excellent. Skyzoo is a clever writer of dense imagery and metaphor while Torae is less trickster more muscle. Together they add up to more than their sum and make every song feel infinitely listenable with lines you may have to catch on the third listen. I go back and forth from song to song with “Sky killed him on this one!” and “Torae…damn!” That’s what was supposed to happen this was an event album the internet forced together but this time….it worked out.
P.S. On an album with a lot of big names the one I was happiest to see repeated in the production credits was Illmind who makes this kind of elegant car stereo destruction as well as anyone in the business. I’m not saying Illmind is the best of this or that. I just love seeing his name.