Photo Credit : @JoexA
While hip-hop has gone through a variety of changes during this Internet era, artists like Skyzooprove that the basics like dope lyrics, excellent beat selection and consistency still go a long way. Following his stellar debut album, The Salvation and the critically acclaimed mixtape The Great Debater, Skyzoo dismisses the sophomore jinx with his new album A Dream Deferred. Skyzoo took a few minutes to talk to The Red Tag Society about his new album, his favorite clothing lines and the upcoming presidential debates.
Calvin: First of all congratulations on the release of A Dream Deferred yesterday. You’ve talked a lot about your appreciation for the Langston Hughes poem of the same name. What is it about the premise of dreams deferred that you feel resonates with your listeners, fans and the hood in general?
Skyzoo: With me, the poem was something I learned in school. I think anybody that came up in a certain period that was one of those things you had to read and learn. It really resonated with me when I first read that poem. When I started working on this album I went back to that poem. I thought of the title and all of the things I thought were being reflected in that poem represented the same state of mind I was in with the creation of this album. When I was writing this album, I said everything that I’m talking about is kind of what’s going on in this poem. So let me just use that and tie the two together and make it that much bigger.
Calvin: I was listening to a couple joints off The Salvation and it kind of had that same “what happens when things don’t turn out exactly how you planned” theme to it. Is that something that you saw in your own personal life?
Skyzoo: Yeah, I think that’s something that everyone deals with in life at some point. We all have a dream. The album isn’t about wanting to be a rapper. It’s more so about having aspirations overall. We all have this dream about who we want to become. What happens when you sacrifice for those things and throw caution to wind and just go? Sometimes the closer you get to it all, the more you realize that none of this dream is what you thought it would be. Like damn.
Calvin: Aside from of the concept of the album talk a little about the producers you worked with and the overall difference between The Salvation and A Dream Deferred.
Skyzoo: Well production wise, Illmind co-executive produced the album with me and kind of oversaw the creation of the album. Black Milk, Jahlil Beats, 9th Wonder, DJ Khalil, Focus, the list goes on. Then there’s some new people like Tall Black Guy, Eric G so it’s a mixture of Grammy winners and people you might not know about. But for me it’s really about the music telling a story regardless of the name that’s attached to the music and that’s why the names are always so diverse. Sometimes you’ll have these huge names and other times it’ll be someone you never in your life heard of.
Calvin: I heard in a recent interview that you were in the process of writing a book that will break down some of your lyrics, how’s that process coming along?
Skyzoo: It’s good, honestly it’s been a slow process at the moment because I’ve been in album mode and I’ve been working on the album so tough. So now that’s it’s done and out, I can focus on other things, the book is one of the things I’m really going to be able to throw 150% into.
Calvin: A lot of people compared your debut album The Salvation, with other debut classics such as Only Built 4 Cuban Links, Ready To Die, Reasonable Doubt and others, do you have any type of frustration seeing as how those artists were able to release those albums in a climate in which great rap and skill was appreciated on a more mainstream scale than it is now?
Skyzoo: I think it’s a little bit of both. I think that where we are nowadays in hip-hop in particular it’s in a good place because there’s options. You don’t have to only listen to the TV or the radio. So if you’re happy with everything that’s going on with the TV or the radio then you’re good. Enjoy it, support it and do what you do. If you’re not happy with the TV or the radio or you just want to add something to what you already deal with then you have the Internet. You go online and find artists you never heard of before. And there are artists building cult followings and hacking out shows without ever being on TV or the radio. I’m one of those artists. I’ve been on TV and radio but not to that extent so technically I’m one of those artists. Would it be nice for lyrics to matter like they did in the 90’s? Sure, but at the same time I don’t make music for the 90’s or old school ‘let’s take it back music.
Calvin: Popular culture has found its way into a lot of your lyrics and concepts, from album covers, to song titles….talk a little bit about how popular culture has influenced you.
Skyzoo: I grew up watching the Cosby Show and Good Times. I grew up learning about black popular culture. We watched A Different World, and Fat Albert as a kid. That stuff just sticks with me. SO when I make music I’m able to relate it and take a character like a Theo or a JJ and turn that into a story or a theme talking about myself. That’s really what that project was about but I’m able to make it relatable in the sense of Theo and J.J. and all of the pop culture references that we talked about.
Calvin: Looking forward, how have you defined success for Skyzoo the artist or the person?
Skyzoo: I think every situation is unique. I don’t think there’s one definition of success for everyone. Everyone has a different outlook and a different expectation of what success is. For me it’s definitely about money and making as much as you can make. But at the same time it’s about how you go about it. How much are you willing to give up? How much are you willing to go in as far as giving a piece of yourself. For me, the music my integrity. We all want to get money. The majority of my music is about making money. “Steel’s Apartment”, The Rage of Roemello”, these songs are all about making money. But they way I do it, it’s like the typical rapper on the radio. But yeah, to me success is about being as successful as I can financially and doing it with great music that’s going to stand the test of time.
Calvin: A lot of the people may have seen you endorse a number of clothing lines over the last few years what are a few of your favorites and why?
Skyzoo: Well with me it’s about what makes sense to me. So whether it’s the new hot wave or swag at the moment doesn’t mean I’m gonna buy every piece of it. Brand wise I like ALIFE a lot. I’m big on Supreme, RockSmith and Entree and things like that. But outside of the hip-hop brands so to speak I’m big into Comme Des Garcon, PRPS, Strivers Row Jeans and Polo of course being a Brooklynite.
Calvin: Not sure how much you keep up with politics, but considering this is debate season, it’s only right I ask how closely you follow.
Skyzoo: A little bit. I’m aware. I don’t claim to be a political person in the sense of knowing the whole who, what and why but I do respect it and I do appreciate it. I don’t really put politics in my music too much but I do know what we’re dealing with as a country, as culture and as a generation. But we all hope and pray that Obama gets another run. We’ll see what happens in November.
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