Like many people, I was first introduced to Skyzoo’s music via his collaboration with 9th Wonder on the album Cloud 9: The 3 Day High. 9th Wonder has been an AED device for established rappers like Buckshot, Jean Grae, and Murs. But this kid from Brooklyn, not North Carolina, who was more Jigga than Phonte managed to make his mark on the sound scapes provided by one of the most sough after producers in underground hip hop.
Since that album dropped in 2006, Sky dropped the “don’t call it a classic out of sheer redudance” mixtape Corner Store Classic, featuring beats from da gods: DJ Premier, J Dilla, Black Milk, Khyrsis and more. Sky is one of the new wave of cats who have no problem making music for the clubs and the streets, but are wholly unable to leave behind the feeling of Maxell cassettes jam packed with radio exclusives from the mid-to-late 90s. Put him on a track with Young Buck or Buckwild and Sky won’t slip.
After meeting him briefly last month at the Heltah Skeltah show here in Philly, Sky was dope enough to give us a little insight into the the mind of one of hip hop’s most popular emcees that everyone, from backpackers to Hot 97, seems to be rooting for. It’s time for Skyzoo to learn you something!
1. At what point did you realize music is what you wanted to do?
When I heard Chi-Ali’s “Age Ain’t “, that’s when I
knew I wanted to rap. I saw the video on Video Music Box and I was
instantly drawn in. To me, Chi was doing what adults were doing
musically at 14, and seeng him do that so young is what made me wanna
2. How has New York shaped your sound and molded you as an MC?
Being from NY, you have to really be on your craft if you call yourself
an emcee. At least that’s how it was when I was coming up. You had to be
ready to show and prove at any given moment, and really stand behind
your bars. So I was shaped as a lyricist in that way, as well as making
my music be a reflection of the city I grew up in.
3. Who are the people you look up to and learn the most from?
I grew up literaly one block away from B.I.G., so a lot of inspiration
came from my ‘hood. Seeing him make it was more than enough drive for
me. Besides him though, definitely Jay, in a business sense,
people like that. Musically though it’d be Jay, BIG, Nas, Raekwon, Mos
Def, Scarface, people like that.
4. With everything you’ve learned so far, what do you wish you could have told yourself at the beginning? Would you have done anything differently?
I wish I knew early on that the game was full of lies. You don’t know
that at first. You learn as you go through it. I wouldn’t really do
anything differently though because you live and you learn. No regrets.
5. What’s hard for you? What do you struggle with?
My goal is to just make the best music possible, so at first the hard
part was dealing with a lot of my music going over people’s heads. And
that’s not tryna be cocky or anything at all. That’s just knowing that I
may mean one thing in a line or a song and people not getting it,
therefore tainting their opinions of what they heard. When people come
back later and say they get it, that makes it all worth the while. Once
I started getting certain accolades and recognition, I knew people were
seeing the picture.
6. Here’s a scenario: tomorrow you become the CEO of a major record label. What are the first three things you do as boss?
First, turn the label back into a balance. As far as acts, promo,
releases, singles, everything. It’s about balance. Keep things new while
never losing sight of the grass roots methods. Second, find the best
acts possible. The music matters more than anything else. Imaging and
branding can come after we have a classic album recorded. Third, prove
to the fans that we don’t take their $15 for granted, and show them why
they should spend it with us as opposed to someone else.
7. What are some of your favorite albums?
John Coltrane: “A Love Supreme”, Jay-Z: “Reasonable Doubt”, BIG: “Ready
To Die”, Nas: “Illmatic”, J-Dilla: “Donuts”, : “Only Built For
Cuban Linx”, Snoop: “Doggystyle”. The list goes on and on.
8. What is inspiring your work right now?
I’m inspired by everyday life. The shit I go through and the shit around
me is what helps me create my music. Good, bad, whatever is around me is
reflected in the music.
9. What advice would you give someone getting into the music business at this time?
Get out! Lol, nah, I’d say just be about your craft while being about
your business at the same time. Come up with a plan for you to move on
and start moving. The love has to be there though, or you’ll wanna quit
10. Any words to live by?
Support the music you like. If you like a certain artist, buy their
album. Everyday major chain record stores are closing. It’s scary.
Support if you like an artist. Holla. Myspace.com/skyzoo
Skyzoo “Necessary Evils (prod. by Needlz)”
Skyzoo ft. Wale “Lyrically Inclined”
Skyzoo & 9th Wonder “Bare Witness”