Skyzoo has been rapping for more than 15 years, but has yet to break into the mainstream, which begs the question if 2018 will finally be the year for one of the more underrated names in hip-hop to really shine? His latest album, In Celebration of Us, is nothing short of a masterpiece and debatably is one of his best works to date.
Throughout the years he has worked with several of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B, including Dr. Dre, Jadakiss, Jill Scott, Wale, Talib Kweli, Black Thought, John Legend, Lloyd Banks, 9th Wonder and many more. His debut album, The Salvation, was something which he told an online street hop blog, was something he had been planning since he was nine-years-old and was primarily autobiographical.
But for Skyzoo… that spark never really faded. It has just busy, being applied to his many collaborations and operating his own independent record label, First Generation Rich.
“I wanted to tap into the present, more so than any other album of mine,” Skyzoo told Billboard. “Music of the times is the best way to describe it. From cultural appropriation and gentrification to police brutality and the irony of motives behind bigger motives, it’s an album that explores who we are and why we are where we are in society, as a people. What’s been done to us and what we’ve done to ourselves, mainly out of confused necessity, all while celebrating us in the process. I’m honored to be able to give my take on our story.”
The album opens with the conceptually driven “Everybody’s Fine,” an eight-minute intro track about a soon-to-be father, which he follows with “Sound Like…” a fast-paced verbal knockout that is unquestionably for the culture. Neo-Soul singer-songwriter Raheem Devaughn sings the chorus on the track from producer Apollo Brown.
“Forever and a Day” opens with a spaced-out jazz beat that flows into the beat poetic interlude, “Remembering the Rest” featuring WordsNCurves, before fading back into the conscious rap track “The Purpose” featuring Kay Cola.
Skyzoo calls attention to society’s many ills with “Love is Love,” a track about social injustice and the violence associated with hip-hop culture. He even makes reference to Venida Browder, who suffered a heart attack and died less than a year after she had discovered that her son Kalief had committed suicide. The album starts to get more direct with its conscious rap lyrics as the album progress, shedding the subtlety with the track “Black Sambo” about racism and defying to odds to achieve what you find in yourself.
Some other noteworthy tracks include “Parks & Recreation” featuring Saba Abraha, “Collateral” featuring Jake&Papa and “The Stick-Up Tape from Menace” which borrows samples from Heatwave‘s “Star of the Story.” The album comes to a close with the incredibly funky and upbeat “Honor Amongst Thieves.”
The album is a conceptual story that is gripping the whole way through. It’s powerful and raw. A must listen for any fan of New York hip-hop music.
STREAM: SKYZOO – ‘IN CELEBRATION OF US’