The underground to me, is more than the foundation of hip hop. It's more than the back bone of the culture. The underground is to hip hop as NCAA is to the NFL. There's been a lot of talent emerging at an alarming rate in the underground. I keep my ear focused to street because no matter what's successful at the time, no matter what trend pops off, one thing is for certain. That shit will vanish in due time, and the underground wont. It always comes back to here. One of the most recognizable names in hip hop now is Skyzoo. The brother has been grinding hard for about 4 years on a mainstream scale. Hot 97 called him top 10 alive. The fans call him the new Brooklyn. The Undergound Music Awards named him Lyricist Of The Year. I call him one of my favourite MCs of all time. I caught up with the brother to discuss the game, his album The Salvation, his career, and even talk about the Super Bowl.
Jaxx: Peace and blessings ahk, thanks for taking the time out of yourSkyzoo: Everything is good, just grinding real heavy, keeping the name ringing, you know.
schedule, how you living man, you good?
schedule, how you living man, you good?
No doubt, I feel that. First Things first, your album The Salvation. The streets, the fans, Hip Hop is really anticipating this. How is this going to differ from Cloud 9? What's the course of action for the release?
Well Cloud 9 was an EP, and it was done in a 3 day time span. That project was done on the fly, pretty much just a creative spark that happened and wound up becoming a cult favorite. Cloud 9 pretty much kicked in the door for me and my name. The Salvation is my full length debut album. This is the album that I've wanted to make since I started rapping. They say you take your whole life to make your first album, so this is mine. This is my Illmatic, my Reasonable Doubt, my Ready To Die, Only Built ForCuban Linx, etc. This is my first born. It's coming out on an indie label, which was a decision I made to preserve the quality of the project. I didn't want anyone hanging over my shoulders telling me what I could and couldn't put on the record. It'll be out in the spring of 2009.
You're a young dude; it seems that your grind is relentless. Was there
ever a time where the situation looked so bleak, the battle was so
uphill, you contemplated switching lanes and going another route?
All the time, which is displayed on the album at certain points. I think everyone goes through feelings of confusion when they're pursuing a dream. Nothing is guaranteed, so it's easy to leave it all behind and go somewhere. Luckily for me I never entertained those thoughts too much.
Top 10 Alive right now … Hot 97 put you in that echelon. How did you
feel when you first received that accolade? I mean let's be real,
there are a lot of dudes out that have more time in the game and got
looked over for that.
It felt amazing to know that what I'm doing isn't getting looked over. I do agree that there are other people that may have been in the game a little longer, but it wasn't about time in the game, it was about talent and hunger and impact on the game. I pride myself on my lyrics, so knowing that people take notice is rewarding.
XXL had their top 10 freshmen for 09, out side of Wale, Gunz, and B.O.B,
the whole list was mad suspect, did you feel slighted by not being
I did a little bit, but at the end of the day, I understand the nature of the business. I got a lotta love for XXL and they've been supportive of me for awhile, so it's cool. The thing about the cover though, is that everyone on there respects my music and is a fan of it, and vice versa, so we're all in the same class at the end of the day.
I remember watching you on 106 and Park Freestyle Friday straight
GRILLING Jin. Look at where he is, and where you are now, a tad ironic
I think it's all about the grind, you know. 99% of the people from the golden Freestyle Friday era stopped doing what they do. I never stopped. The ones who won and the ones who lost, they all kinda stopped. Me, Jin, Hell Rell and PostaBoy are still active. The rest have been quiet. That's not a diss at all, it's just they're probably doing other things or working on new music. But I never stopped. I actually saw Jin when I was in Hong Kong this fall doing some touring. He's doing a lotta music out there and making moves, so he's still on his job as well. He's cool peoples.
While we're talking about BET, how did it feel to actually see them
retire Rap City?
Aww man, that was horrible. Rap City was everything to me growing up. When Yo MTV Raps left, we still had Rap City, so it was cool. I used to dream about being on the show, going in the booth, signing the wall, etc. I got to be on the show a few times via the Spit Ya Game segments and the Mixtape of The Week segments, due to my mans Tee Smif and Omar, but I never got to be on the show live. I'm really upset that they ended it. I don't really see why they did so, but I'm sure it was for a good reason. I hope so.
The success of Corner Store Classic gathered a cult like following, got
you a slew of new fans, and is quite possibly one of the best mix tapes
ever released, did you anticipate that result during its conception?
Nah I didn't really see it all coming. I knew the hood would be behind it, but when I saw the 'net get behind it just as heavy, I knew I had something special. I'm glad people understood where I was going with it. I wanted to make a soundtrack for the corner stores everywhere. I guess I got the point across.
Everyone is talking about why Hip Hop is suffering, what was the last
moment you experienced that made you absolutely amped to be a fan?
Probably certain concerts that I've been to lately. Q-Tip's show in October, a Jay-Z show, Busta, I've been to a lotta shows lately and those type of artists make me feel like a fan again. No matter what you do professionally, you have to remain a fan, or you'll slowly lose out in what you do.
On the flip what moment left you the most disappointed over the past
All the nonsense that goes on with rappers. Just make dope music, never mind the bullshit that surrounds it.
You know, at first it was fair to say it was kinda jumping the gun to
say the "crank that" and all the do your what ever dance was killing
the game, but now after the mass production of the fuckry, a few years
later, what's your intake on it?
There has to be balance. There's always been dances; the Humpty dance, the Hammer, the Kid-N-Play kick step, etc. The difference is that wasn't the end all be all. You had that, and you also had De La and Ice Cube and Das Efx, etc, and they were all successful at the same time. Nowadays whatever works, everyone else follows suit. I guess I'm alone with being a loner in that.
Now there is talk on the net from naysayers, what have you, that
you're only a 16 bar rapper. You only got the 1 verse feature, or what
ever. What do you gotta say in response to that?
When my album drops all those people will eat their words. I've never been a 16 bar rapper, but I guess people penalize you for killing a verse. People act like they never heard records like The Bodega, Stop Fooling Yourself, Extreme Measures, Ghetto America, You & Me, True Romance, etc. I don't know. I guess whoever's reading this, if they haven't heard them, go listen to them and then re-think your thoughts.
The casual listener has no idea who Skyzoo is, what's your platform to
change that in 09?
I'm dropping a mixtape in late January called The Power Of Words specifically for those people. It's the last project dropping before The Salvation. The mixtape is really full of heavy bars and quotables and punchlines, and is gonna show people why Hot 97 named me top 10, why I won Lyricist Of The Year at the UMA's this summer. The Power Of Words is the proving grounds for that.
When was the last time you had to jump in a cipher and check the shit
out of an MC for exercising ignorance?
It's been awhile. I love being in ciphers and having fun, but it's been awhile since I had to battle. I love the ciphers though. You have to stay active in them in order to be sharp. It's lyrical exercise. I'm always up for that.
I'm from Pittsburgh, you know, brothers gotta know, what do you think
our chances are of taking the Super Bowl? Keep in mind Pittsburgh fans
don't play games son…
Haha, I think the Steelers are a good team, but I'm from NY, so I'm Giants all day. I hope we d it again this year.
(Editors note ... Readers ... forgive him, he knoweth not what he say)
Out of your BK compatriots, in your eyes, who is the most deserving of
Besides me? Up and comers right now from the borough, I'd say Torae, Nina B, Sha Stimuli, Push Montana, Nino Bless, and then the ones who are out there on larger scale I'd say Maino, Joell Ortiz, Uncle Murda, Pap, there's a good amount of us in the borough.
I ask everyone this question, if you could battle any one, dead or
alive, who would be number one on the list to soundclash with?
Wow, I'd say BIG just because I'd have the opportunity. I know what the outcome would be, but just to be able to say I did it would be enough reason to.
As it stands, what is the number one thing missing from your career
Getting my album out, which is months away from happening. I wanna get that out asap. Once I get this album out, I'll be good with my status and where that's gonna take me.
The Ayatollah has spoken