We like our music to fit inside in pre-fabricated boxed, for it to conform to established storylines, and writers can be more guilty of easy categorization than most. If it's loud and from the South than it's ignorant trap. If it's sample-based and from the east coast it's backpacker, densely lyrical, the sworn enemy of fun. Of course there's an element of truth there, no one's scrambling to figure out the double-entendres on "U Guessed It" and no one turns up to Aesop Rock, but there's a lot more grey area between those extremes than we usually admit.
So I want to be deliberate about how I frame this and my previous interview with Skyzoo. Yes, Skyzoo is in many ways a writer's writer, a man who loves words and that love is on full display in his music. You don't drop a line like this without pouring a lot of time and effort into your pen. But I don't want to put Sky in anything resembling a backpacker box. As a lover of hip-hop he listens to everything, and as an artist there's often a real joy and energy that transcend any mere lyrical exercise.
But with that disclaimer out of the way, I just couldn't go an entire interview with him without digging into some specifics on his songwriting, attempt to gain some insight into how his music goes from his brain to pen to headphones. In particular, his cut with Torae, "Blue Yankee Fitted," has been one of my favorites ever since it dropped, so I asked him about it.
See, in many ways "Blue Yankee Fitted" is exactly what I was talking about in the intro, a song that has real energy, but also has some real depth for those who want to dig deeper into some of the references. And continuing that theme getting more lyrically-oriented rap to translate to a live show can be a challenge, but it's one that Sky knows well.
Skyzoo is a rapper who has purposefully made lyricism a foundation of his music, but he's not your stereotypical "lyrical rapper." He's an emcee who can crush a mic and deliver some music for summertime riding in the whip, music like his new album, Music for My Friends. No matter what category you want to place it in, there's just nothing better than hip-hop from an emcee who cares passionately about making hip-hop. Skyzoo is that emcee.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast/radio form. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]