SkyZoo is probably one of the most low-key rappers that mostly ‘real’ hip-hop heads would appreciate. Besides being a ghost writer for (Most likely) your favourite artist and worked with greats such as Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Pharoahe Monch, Black Moon, Sean Price, Smif-n-Wessun and producer 9th Wonder. The Brooklyn rapper released his 4th solo album with “In Celebration of Us” and I felt it appropriate to listen to the whole project track by track and actually understand what he had this time.
- Everybody’s Fine – City Landscape, love how the sound paints the picture. The two gentlemen trying to leave the game…quite the different beginning for an album. The beat identical to that of Freddie Joachim’s production on Waves with Joey Badass, difference is the way he raps is similar to Lupe’s Mural. Immaculate cadence already and this is just the first song. Really love the description he gives off of the average black man…it kind of explains who he’s talking about when he’s celebrating ‘us’. The trumpet at the end. Perfect.
- Sounds Like… – Recently saw legendary South African producer Amu post something about this song, so already I was excited. Got hella bounce! Honestly am already into the beat selection. Wonder what he thinks when he goes through a multiplicity of beats to pick from. The Cadence is godly! Rhyme scheme will have you calling your momma. I really think that this is the music that they never play on the radio. GAHDDAMN! (I low-key feel he had a hand in Rapsody’s She Got Game tape…)
- Baker’s Dozen – This is the boom bap that old school heads are looking for, with the relevance that the new school that would make many ‘hip-hop’ fans be able to sit in one room and understand the same message from this album. Raheem’s hook is stuck in the past but it still makes sense for this particular feel, on any other track, I’m not so sure I’d like it. If didn’t know anybody I’d say this album is a re-release. ”You moved in when they promised you that the block vacant” (drops mic) I find it very hard to find something to hate on with this project. Flow. Cadence. Story. Hook. Boom –Bap-Head-knocking drum line. The Drake sample at the end…hmm…wonder who did the scratches.
- Crown Holder – He sounds closer to the mic than before. (Understand that at this point I can’t even write jack just because I got the screw face…it’s too nice) “Son I’m all over the aim, I’m hoodie Melo” Genuinely can’t think of anyone else doing it like this in the industry. The confidence in the flawless flow…then the line at the end is the ribbon on the project…celebration of the black man. “They don’t want us to win”
- Heirlooms and Accessories – This song in particular feels like he’s been just free styling over this entire project to a certain concept. Like one particular session and well he’s nowhere near stopping. His wordplay makes me blaspheme more times than I’m allowed during the year, honestly would love to see him do something with Ab-Soul or Slaughterhouse. The songstress in the background during the hook…damn…the silence…THE MUHFXCKIN’ BEAT JUST SWITCHED UP! Nah, I’m not writing anymore here. I’m done.
- Forever in a day – Jazz, as was the theme off the day and the way it’s interpolated…I just want to know who was executive producer on this whole thing. It’s crazy. My face literally is having cramps because I’ve had a screw face the whole time. The bars. The beat…the theme. This is my new favourite rapper right now. Honestly. Only thing I can say I don’t necessarily vibe with is the hook.
- Remembering the rest (interlude) – This song just made me feel like I did a little time travel. From that old school boom bap to this iPhone tone…as if we’re taking an actual break, but I mean, it’s like NoName came through, dropped an extremely sexual poem…but she nailed the flow so well, she might as well could’ve been rapping on the beat…sensual….I’ve got butterflies in my stomach. Nah, I’ve decided, next time I’m in the sack…this is the jam!
- The Purpose – They flipped the interlude! Ah!!! OH!! The line of the week!! “Knowing the baddest bitches is eating off her reflection” Am I allowed to mention Skyzoo’s flow again? Why isn’t he on the Black Panther Album? I see what they trying to do with the hook but it was just too loud for the feel of the song. The trumpet at the end just reminds me of Hugh Masekela. #RIP I expected a speech again but maybe that was the interlude’s part…hmm
- Love is love – Yea!! Talk that shit again! It’s like when the hardest gangster goes from making sweet passionate love to his lady in the bed, then gets up and goes hard in the streets. Love the stock snare, makes everything sound so simple. “Love me like…” makes me want to rap as well. Beautiful energy is given…makes you want to go hard!! Reminiscent of the time I first heard Range Rover Flow.
- Black Sambo – Ashu! Standard remains at the top, he either goes up or maintains. Jesus! I expected a smooth ass banger of an 808 and I was not even disappointed at all. Flow my GOD! (I’ll admit to having shed a young tear…but it was one. Nothing more.)
P.S. I might have repeated it a couple of times before I went on. Damn.
- Parks & Recreation – Old school chilled, like the drive home after a party…Would love to hear more from Saba Abraha. Feels like SkyZoo was the feature for the raps and its Saba’s song. So soft. Project could’ve ended here. KOOL AID!!
- Collateral – Jazz Lounge, Beautiful hook. Delivery is crazy, beautiful musical trip. You get lost….as if the song itself gets lost in the background. Love the stereotypes at the end. It’s beautiful getting lost in the musical high.
- The Stick Up Tape From Menace – Depth in it from the jump. “Shit can happen overnight if you wake up to get it” [This whole tape feels like a letter he wrote to himself, that accidently was leaked to the people. Still feels like personal thoughts that just resonate to every black people]
- Hoodie SZN – Love the 90’s bounce to it. “I’m an educated black man, your worst nightmare you punk.”
- Honour Amongst Thieves – I feel like Just Blaze was low-key in the room when the beat was made. Beautiful flow as always. Love the refrains. Him speaking about himself in the third person makes one relate. His dad taught him a lot it seems. The story at the end….wow. MTV Unplugged feel, as if it’s live. It’s honest. It’s real. “I’m proud to say that little kid is me.”
If ever there was a time I felt there was a project that comes third only to Good Kid, M.a.a.d City and To Pimp a Butterfly, this is it. An unofficial letter to a young black man. The lessons from a father that many black sons never had.
All I have to say is thank you for the project.
Written By Asanda ‘Ace’ Africander
Stream SkyZoo “In Celebration of Us” below.