Nov 23, 2015

#InCaseYouMissedItMonday: Music For My Friends - @Skyzoo; A Niles P. Joint

I slept on Skyzoo for way too long, even when I had every reason not to.  Dude had an appearance on Sean Price’s second album, put out countless critically acclaimed albums and mixtapes, dropped a dope ass song I discovered on SoundCloud (Spike Lee Was My Hero featuring Talib Kweli,) and formed the Barrel Brothers with Torae and put out a great album last year.  Every time I got put on to any of the aforementioned, I always told myself “This Skyzoo cat is type nice, I gotta check out more of his stuff.”  And every time due to my own procrastinating ways, I stupidly put him on the back burner.  I almost did the same this summer when he dropped Music for My Friends.  But I stopped screwing around and finally give the Brooklyn emcee a good listen.  My intuition was rewarded because he dropped something quite remarkable.
This album is a concept record of sorts inasmuch as it shows how Skyzoo viewed the world in his younger years when he was coming up with his friends, hence the title.  There are interludes given by his childhood pals between songs that really add to the ambiance.  Instead of going as a straight up storytelling project, it instead aspires to capture moods and feelings of the time.  Suicide Doors sets the tone as Sky spits complex raps over crashing percussion and a jazz trumpet.  Jazz is a common stylistic theme as Sky is a jazz aficionado and uses live instrumentation in his songs.  Everything’s For Sale effectively uses a Jay-Z interpolation in the chorus to create the framework for a song about youthful aspirations.  These turn into slightly dark considerations on See a Key (Ki’) by way of thoughts of the drug game.  A guest verse by Jadakiss is well-placed.  
Money Makes Us Happy is my favorite song on the album.  It’s impossibly swanky yet doesn’t skimp on substance as he ponders the prevalence of money and it’s correlation to happiness.  Bilal provides a smooth ass hook and Black Thought slays yet another guest appearance without overshadowing the host.  Asking Bodie for a Package features Skarr Akbar and takes its theme from a vocal sample from The Wire without making it into a novelty song.  Things I Should've Told My Friends is more somber fare than anything else on here but it’s necessary for the climax of the album.  Apollo Brown laces the beat as Skyzoo gets introspective on the state of his friendships.  As a finale, Falling out the Sky is a triumph.  It sounds like it was recorded with a live band and I can picture it being performed as such.  It ends the album on a positive note without straying from the theme and is one of the best feel-good songs of the year easily.

Born in Crown Heights and raised in Bed Stuy, Skyzoo portrays the everyman around the way.  He’s not overly sappy yet doesn’t try to go a hardcore route.  He portrays himself as a regular neighborhood guy which makes his music very accessible.  His wordplay requires a few listens and rewinds but the theme of youthful dreams and aspirations is something everyone can relate to.  While the previously listed songs are only the standout tracks after a dozen listens, they could be interchangeable as the album maintains an even keel thematically and musically.  There are no bad songs on this project.  Having mostly all of the beats slathered in jazz gives each track a very home-y feeling when you listen.  There’s a warmth here you don’t get with many releases this year.  Overall I’m glad Music For My Friends was my first introduction to a full Skyzoo project.  The quality and tone ensures that I won’t sleep on his music again.  You’ll feel the same way once you listen.

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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