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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Skyzoo: The Cornerstone Classic Review

Truthfully speaking, New York City hasn’t had much to be proud as far as emcees go as of late. Of course, there are a few bright spots but most of the headlines from the NYC rap scene have been about who’s being arrested or how so and so is beefing with whomever. Mid-90s, it was hard to get on the map in Hip Hop if you were from anywhere else but now, it’s the complete opposite. Skyzoo happens to be one of those bright spots for NYC I alluded to above. The Brooklyn emcee impressed fans and critics alike with his 12-track EP Cloud 9: The Three Day High. On his new mixtape, The Cornerstore Classic he aims to take it back to 95; a time when Hip Hop was thriving in NYC.

Most mixtapes will have the featured artist rhyming over an assortment of tracks that are buzzing on the radio and in the streets. Cornerstone Classic has Skyzoo electing to rhyme over vintage NYC records as well as some brand new tracks. The “intro” has Skyzoo spitting over Ghostface Killah’s “Nutmeg” from Supreme Clientele. Skyzoo’s does the track justice with crisp rhymes that are not too punchline-focused but laced with a few lines that may make you rewind like “I’m in the pocket of the beat, like I’m taxin’ it” and “still about my bread/been bakin’ for a year straight.” His flow is smooth and infused with utter cockiness but not the manufactured swagger that is seen so often in rappers nowadays. It comes off as natural. “Straighten Out” throws Sky over some 92’ Pete Rock (track of the same title) and starts with “haters is mad, I get more butt than stutterers/but, but you get the picture” and has him continue to rhyme on how far ahead of other rappers he is skating from bar to bar fluidly. He pays homage to old school NY by picking the beat of fellow New Yorker and legend, Pete Rock, and lays down 3 on par verses. Speaking of old school legends from NY, DJ Premier makes an appearance on “Get It Done” to really submerge you in that East Coast sound that Hip Hop heads love. “Get It Done” has Torae and Skyzoo feeding off of each other’s energy making both emcees drop some pretty solid verses. Skyzoo’s verse is the highlight of the track with him rhyming “I’m in a New York state of mind when I kick in the door/with a million and one questions when I’m bringing it on/whether friend or foe, this doe I need/now recognize or you gon’ get to know my steez/I’m so ghetto, I represent the back of the field/but I’m overflowin’ with mass appeal, I’m like royalty/just to get a rep, I’m on my own dick/it’s like 95 all over again.” Skyzoo’s wordplay and creativity on this particular track is insane. This is the type of track that’s exciting to listen to because both emcees are bringing their A-game. Sky drops some heat, then Torae ups the ante and throw in the aggressive head nod factor that Premo presents and you got a dope track. “Play Your Position” meshes Skyzoo and Detroit underground upstart, Guilty Simpson. Again, lyrically Skyzoo takes it up a notch on this collab digging into the funky guitar plucks with myriad punchlines. By this point in the mixtape, it’s evident Skyzoo is gifted with better than average lyricism.

The only missteps on Cornerstone Classic come in “Close Reach” and “the Paper.” “Close Reach” is one of those stock club tracks where the rapper raps as if he’s spittin’ game at a chick by the bar attempting to get her to come home with him. Sky spends most of his verse talking about garish jewels and chains and throwing around lewd remarks at the hypothetical chick. “The Paper” is one of those tracks where the rapper talks about how much they lust money; how much of a hustler he is, so on and so forth; definitely could have left this one off the tape.

Besides the two tracks above, I enjoyed listening to this mixtape a lot. It’s the kind of Hip Hop music that’s missing now. There’s a big gap between the progressive emcees and the gangsta rappers. It polarizes the fans making them have to choose whether they’ll pledge allegiance to one side or the other. Skyzoo’s brand of music falls between that gap. His lyrics will appeal to lyricism first Hip Hop heads but his music is not so complex that it would alienate the average rap fan. Skyzoo on Cornerstone Classic represents the complete package emcee—good lyrics, nice flow and mad swagger—that’s almost grown extinct. If this mixtape is symbolic of things to come, he’s definitely someone to expect big things from in the future.

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