Archive for Sunday, August 5, 2012

Skyzoo’s Album, A Dream Deferred is Finished

Posted in Album Update, News with tags , , , , , , on Sunday, August 5, 2012 by Tim Althaus

I saw this a few days ago, and it made me ecstatic. For those of you that don’t know (how could you not know about him at this point?), Skyzoo is an incredible lyricist from Brooklyn, and everything that he builds breathes brilliance. I’ve been following his music very closely for the last four years. His debut album The Salvation was everything a East Coast Classic should be: Incredible soul-based beats with deeply coded conscientious lyricism. Every time that I listen to The Salvation, I pick up on new things, and I find an even greater appreciation for his ingenuous writing style.

In the interim since The Salvation, Skyzoo has dropped a critically acclaimed album with producer !llmind (Live From the Tape Deck), and a momentous album-quality mixtape (The Great Debater). I heard a while back that Sky was supposed to be dropping another mixtape before A Dream DeferredTheo Vs. JJ: Dreams Vs. Reality, and it was supposed to proceed right where The Great Debater left off; however, from what I’ve read and seen, Theo Vs. JJ was supposed to drop sometime in June/July, so it’s hard to say if it will be dropping before A Dream Deferred.

This is what excites me about A Dream Deferred: it will pick up exactly where The Salvation left off. The Salvation explored a great deal of topics and serious life situations, and A Dream Deferred will give listeners an insight into the outcomes that occur when the aforementioned thoughts are manifested into realities. Even though I’m partially biased because I’m such a huge fan, it sounds like Skyzoo will be able to comfortably add another classic underneath his belt.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it a million times over: Skyzoo is my favorite emcee, and I truly think that he’s one of the greatest lyricists of this or any generation. It’s no easy task to live up to the hype when you’re given titles like “The writer of writers”, but Skyzoo embraces the love that he’s given, and he continually mesmerizes the masses with thought provoking and intelligent lyricism.

Joey Bada$$: A Return to East Coast Lineage & The Wonders of Adolescence

Posted in Album Review, Music Discovery, Music Reviews with tags , , , , , on Sunday, August 5, 2012 by Tim Althaus

Article by Chris Deline

If web-hype were any indication of talent or potential, Brooklyn youngster Joey Bada$$ might well be one of rap’s hottest names right now. The typical talking points seem standard across the board: Despite being only 17 he has a “sophisticated” and “confident” flow, reps hard for his Progressive Era crew (“a collective of 18 rappers, producers, graphic designers and studio engineers“), exhibits a distinct and refreshing ’90s hip-hop vibe (reviews have been tireless with Nas references), and for having just released his first mixtape with 1999, he already has everyone from Mac Miller to MTV backing his cause. In the month that’s passed since 1999 dropped for free online, the mixtape has already racked up nearly 400k combined views between DatPiff and Live Mixtapes alone. Astounding results for a kid who has yet to enter his senior year of high school. But does web-hype really equate talent?

Of course not.

But it does accurately reflect Bada$$’s potential.

Part of 1999‘s immediate appeal comes with its obvious resemblance to what real “hip-hop heads” are either already familiar with, or are desperately seeking. Take for example one of the set’s most acclaimed cuts, “Survival Tactics,” which utilizes Styles of Beyond’s eponymous track from the group’s 1998 debut. Although it isn’t exactly a showstopper as far as musical references go, it shows that he’s actively looking back — digging, if you will — while moving forward. The same goes for when he leans on Dilla and Statik Selektah. “World Domination” goes a little deeper with sample of DOOM’s “Poo-Putt Platter,” which in turn sampled a tune from the Fat Albert Halloween episode: this is the kind of incestuous keeping-it-realness that back in tha day trumpeters kill for! “Funky Hos” and “Snakes” would each sound at home on Midnight Marauders tribute LP, but it’s “World Domination” that especially speaks to where the kid’s at musically: He’s most comfortable within the previous generation’s ideal of what an old-school flow was supposed to sound like. 1999 is the scrapbook of a kid whose parents listened to Biggie, attends the same high school as Adam Yauch once did, and who discovered Gangstarr through video games.

Most of the release finds him spitting about girls — what would you rap about if you were 17 again? — but even there he maintains a strange lyrical mixture, balancing macho posturing with emotions: “Word to my mother/Two things I never do is leave the crib without some rubbers or tell a funky ho I love her/These broads be trying to get a brother caught up in a sticky situation, missing menstruation” (from the Steve Miller Band-sampling “Funky Hos”) follows “So tell me what the fuck I’m supposed to do/You know it ain’t too easy getting over you/I sent the postcards so you know it’s true/I promise that I wouldn’t get emotional” (Bada$$ doing his best DOOM in “Pennyroyal”). But 1999 isn’t empty in terms of showing his dexterity as an MC either: peep 3:43 to about 4:30 of “Hardknocks” where his rapid fire delivery really takes off, “This is for my niggas, killas, hundred dolla billas/On the block in the rock spot glock cocked watchin’ out for cops/All about they cheddar young girls know nothin’ that’s better…”

Speaking with Pitchfork, Pro Era producer Chuck Strangers explained his process in developing the handful of tracks he contributed to the release, “Joey had a very specific vision for 1999. I was playing him all these other kinds of beats and he’d be like, ‘These are ill, but not what I’m going for.’ So I sat and I listened to Joey Bada$$ music. People ask me, ‘Did you listen to a lot of Wu-Tang and Illmatic when you made these beats?’ I know those shits because I’m from Brooklyn and I love ‘em, but to make Joey Bada$$’ tape, I listened to Joey Bada$$.” Growing up on hip-hop is a great starting point, but the ability to be so selectively focused of what it is he’s trying to do at such a young age is what might actually separate Bada$$ from the crowd. 1999 is no Illmatic, but it is a skillfully constructed tape by a minor-leaguer who’s playing at a pro-ball level. Whether you’re boom-bap’d out halfway through the mixtape or not, what you should take away from 1999 is its what-ifs: the what-ifs that have inspired the web-hype and the what-ifs that suggest his future to be bulging at the seems with “potential.” The reason it’s important to keep his age in mind isn’t simply because it’s remarkable that Joey Bada$$ appears so “sophisticated” and “confident” at only 17, but because he seems to already be better at constructing a consistent album than many who’ve been doing it since back before he was even born. Oh, the potential…

[Guest contributor Chris DeLine is a freelance writer living in Nashville, TN. Follow him or Twitter or friend him on Facebook.]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,523 other followers