Waddup, HipHopGame, waddup world? It's your man Skyzoo, 718 and all that, and I'm back in here, finally. All apologies on the delay of posting new journals lately. I know it's been forever and a day but it's all because of this new music, so I guess that's a pretty decent reason in itself. I've been wrapped up in creating two totally different projects at once, which is definitely like nothing I've ever done.
As most of you already know, I'm releasing my debut album The Salvation this year, but I'm setting the album up with an all new mixtape entitled The Power of Words, which will be released a few months prior to the LP. The task with that is, it's two totally different frames of mind that I have to write within at the same time. They are both representations of me, but in different aspects. Going back and forth to two different extremes at once isn't hard, but different, and definitely time consuming to say the least.
The mixtape is me just going in with the punchlines, lyrics, etc. I've always been a lyrical dude and people like y’all reading this have stood tall by me when those claims are bestowed upon me, so the tape is more of that. Knocking beats, crazy lines that'll make you kill the scroll wheel on your iPod to rewind it back, dope features, etc. The tape will be put together by me, DJ Drama and Statik Selektah. There were rumors all over the 'net about Drama being behind it, and I tried to keep the word low, but I figured I'd let the cat out of the bag. So yeah, the rumors are true, The Power of Words, hosted by DJ Drama and Statik Selektah, is a reality. Some of the features include Wale, Maino, Big Pooh, Young Chris, Naledge, and tons more that y’all gotta wait and see once it drops. Production on it comes from 9th Wonder, Jake One, Illmind, Analogic, Fatin, Algorythm (who did the first leak joint "Bells & Whistles") and more. It's more of what Skyzoo fans have come to want, expect and love when they get a Skyzoo mixtape, but taken to the next level. Look for it on HHG and my MySpace page for free download in early April.
The album is a whole different animal. The Salvation is my official debut album, and I've been working on it since mid/late summer '08. This is by far my most intense, cohesive, lyrical, cinematic and best work to date. I've never been more proud of anything I've done. They say you take your whole life to make your first album, being that from the moment you choose to be an artist, all you can think about is getting your debut out. When you first start out, all you wanna do is make a record. So with that being said, this album definitely sounds the way I imagined it sounding since back when I first heard Chi-Ali (Wikipedia me to figure out that reference). The album is all stories, all conceptual, all cinematic. It's one cohesive body of work from track 1 to track 16. Everything fits, ties in, holds hands and makes sense with the songs before it and after it. The production line up includes 9th Wonder, Pete Rock, Nottz, Needlz, Illmind, Cyrus Tha Great, and more, including one name that I can't give out yet but when it drops, it'll definitely be worth the wait. There aren't too many features, as I've always been a believer of your first album being about YOU, so having a bunch of collabos to help tell YOUR story would defeat the purpose. But, with that being said, there are a few dope features that I'm blessed to have on the album. I definitely can't give those out yet because I want there to be something for you all to look forward to.
The album is storytelling based on my life, spawned by the music I came up listening to. I grew up (literally) near one of the best storytellers ever, B.I.G. If I come with anything less than above par, I'll be doing my background a disservice. Albums like Reasonable Doubt, Ready To Die, Illmatic, Doggystyle, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, et cetera all shaped me as the writer I now am, and this album reflects that, in my opinion, to a tee. I'm not comparing my album to any of those I named, but I AM saying that my album is definitely one of the most cohesive, thought-provoking and cinematic LPs I've heard in a good minute. Hopefully when it drops, you all will feel the same.
The label situation is finally situated, and the crib that I'll be calling home is Jamla Records, headed by CEO and founder 9th Wonder. Yep, 9th now has a label deal, and I'll be jumpstarting the roster and introducing the label to the world. It made sense for me to run with the dude who pretty much let me kick in the door for myself using his name. I've made a ton of friends in this business and I deal with some really genuine people that a lot of y’all reading this are fans of, but no one in the game has looked out for me more and done more for me than 9th. So even when I had other offers on the table, once he came to me with his offer, it was a no-brainer. It was only right.
The name Jamla is derived from the '60s soul label Tamla (Wikipedia that, too). So with that being said, you see what we're aiming for. The release date is looking like early summer, and believe me, I'm as excited as y’all are. My goal isn't to save hip hop, or save NY, or save anything else for that matter. It's really just to make what I feel is the best album I could make, and present it to y’all, the people who feel like you haven't heard a great hip hop album in months, years, maybe even longer. My goal is to tell my story, which in turn is telling yours.
So on that note, I apologize again for the delay on the journals and I'ma try my best to get them out more often, like I used to. The iTunes joint of the week is Jay-Z's Coming of Age featuring Memphis Bleek, off of Reasonable Doubt. That album, to me, is one of the best albums ever created in music and that song is easily my fave from it. If you like that, then I'm sure you'll like The Salvation. ‘Til next time, they still call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O. Holla
Waddup, HipHopGame, waddup, world? Still live from the 718 as always,
it's your man Skyzoo back in the building. I know it's been forever
since I spoke to y'all on the journal side of things, but I've been
more hectic than ever lately. For those who don't know, I've
officially started working on my debut album The Salvation. I started
about two months ago, which explains why it's been about the same
amount of time since I wrote a journal. Pardon my tardiness. I love
writing these journals, as it's a way for me to connect to you all and
give y'all a look into my world; but the album has been my agenda
everyday since I started it. I'm trying to be finished by late
August/early September and I'm aiming for a December/January release.
My birthay is Christmas Eve so I'd ideally love to drop it in december
as a gift to myself, but if not then it'll be out in January for sure.
This is the album I've talked about my entire career to date, as far
as in interviews, freestyles, features, even on Cloud 9 I mentioned
how that was just an EP and that my debut would be everything I've
ever wanted to say and then some. So now I'm at that stage where I'm
writing and recording my first born The Salvation. The production line
up on it is CRAZY. Just to give you a hint, the guys who made records
like "Threat", "Mr. 17.5", "Respiration", "Piggy Bank", "Gold & A
Pager", "Can't Win For Losing", "Shut Em Down Rmx", and more are all
on the project, while there's still four or five more legends sending
me stuff as I write this. I can't wait to get the album done and in
your trunks/iPods/Seratos/headphones/etc. So all in all, that's why my
journal game has been slow lately. Again, pardon my tardiness.
On another note, I've been nominated in the 2008 UMA's for "Best
Lyricist". As y'all know, I pride myself on being one of the elite as
far as lyrics go, so this nomination means a lot to me. The UMA's
stand for the Unerground Music Awards, and it's a pretty prestigious
award show up here in NYC. It's called the grammys of hip hop. All the
winners in the UMA's are chosen via online votes, so I need ALL of
yall reading this to log on to www.hiphoppalace.com and vote me me in
the best lyricist category. You can vote everyday repeatedly, so log
on, vote, and tell a friend to log on and vote so that I can bring
that award home for us. Now, back to the topic at hand...
When I started writing my album, it made me think of some of my
favorite albums and how the majority of them were released in the
summer or had some sort of summer presence leading up to it's release.
Albums like The Blueprint, Only Built For Cuban Linx, It Was Written,
and tons of others had the summer locked, whether it was during it's
release or the singles and anticipation preparing it. For me, one of
the most memorable summers was summer '97, when Puff droppded No Way
Out. Back in high school, I was a huge Bad Boy fan. I lived up the
block from Biggie, and he had just passed away, so I (and every one
else in the Stuy) felt obligated to continue waving that flag for him.
Add that to Puff's ever growing presence in hip hop and then add on
that he had Mase and The Lox (who, between the two acts, were the
DOPEST shit out on any Clue tape you could find back then), and Bad
Boy was becoming more and more unstoppable everyday. Summer 1997 was
important to me because I saw hip hop grow into a commercially
accepted culture, and watched our art get begged upon by every fortune
500 company around, all off of the success of "No Way Out".
In the summer of '97 I was 14, and headed to summer school (I spent
way too much time in the staircase in 9th grade). I had three back to
back classes to make up, and all three sucked. The only thing I looked
forward to everyday was playing ball, writing rhymes, and the july
21st release of "No Way Out". And then the day came...
I cut my summer school class and headed to the closest record store
(remember those?), threw down 10 dollars and copped the Puff Daddy &
The Family No Way Out tape (remember those?). Thus began the best
summer I've ever had. I bumped that album everyday, everywhere, and
became more and more hooked on the Bad Boy sound. The consistenty of
the records, the song structure, the range and commercial viability,
it all opened tons of doors for me creativly. I learned how to make
complete and relatable records after studying that album. I already
had a rep for being lyrical and tearing people in battles, beit in
school or the corner or anywhere else, but that tape showed me the
other side of the mic, the artist side, and how to nuture that.
To this day, that's without a doubt one of my favorite albums. What it
represented for the culture at the time; the music, the corssover
appeal, and most importantly, the summer, is what will forever be
remembered. I miss when albums gave you that feeling. I feel bad for
the younger kids in summer school right now who don't have anything to
look to cut class and go cop. Seems like people have been let down for
good amount of summers now. My record is dropping in december/january,
so the winter is definitly covered, and it'll probably lean over into
june or so. Regardless, I'ma do my part to give you that feeling no
matter what. But all in all, here's to the summer. Here's to Puff,
Jay, Wu-Tang, Nas, BIG, TI, and all the people who made summers worth
while in the past, and the hope that I'm not the only artist who's
guarenteed to bring that feeling back (but if I am the only one, then
fuck it. We good regardless).
The itunes pick of the week is "All About The Bennjamins" by Puff
Daddy; not Diddy, but Puff Daddy. Go cop that and remember summer '97
as it should be. Also, while you're in the iTunes store, cop the
"Corner Store Classic" remix tape, and cop the "Lyrically Inclined" cd
package as well. Some of yall may have it already via zshare but to
all you producers, the a capella is on iTunes, so feel free to cop it
and have fun flipping it.
I'll be back soon with another topic, for now I'm off to the pen and
the pad to write some more of this album. In the meantime, vote for me
in the Best Lyricist category for the 2008 UMA's at
www.hiphoppalace.com. Remember, The Salvation is coming this winter, a
new mixtape is coming in october, and Urban American Idol: The
Official Best Of Skyzoo is dropping in july. As always, they call me
S, K-Y, Z-O-O.
Whaddup, HipHopGame, what's good, world? Live from the 718, I'm back from a brief hiatus. Off top, I apologize for the long gap between the last journal and this one. Between recording new music, traveling out of the country, filming a video and planning more shows, it's been real hectic for the dude. I generally try to keep these journals coming on a consistent two week basis, but it's been crazy lately due to all that I'm trying to get done. In a good way though. To all my fans and supporters who come to HHG for my new journal entries on the regular, my bad, y’all. I appreciate the support and will do my best to keep y’all fed as far as journals go.
This week's journal is dedicated to one of my heroes, one of the greatest emcees of all time, the Notorious BIG. As we all know, the 11 year anniversary of his death was March 9, which was about a week and a half ago. I purposely waited until after the date to put this journal up because I didn't want it to be a "let's celebrate BIG on the date he died and then forget about it." Everyone does that. I figured I'd wait to stretch out the memory of BIG beyond just his anniversary, but more so keep it going continuously, beyond the date. So without any further ado, here's the journal.
As many people know, I'm from Brooklyn. I was born in Crown Heights but I moved around a lot. I went from Crown Heights to Flatbush to Bed Stuy to even Southside Jamaica Queens when I was in high school (shout to the whole Southside!), but most of who I am and what I'm about came from my time spent in Bed Stuy. The Stuy is what really raised me. When I lived in Bed Stuy, I saw a lot and learned a lot, just like anyone else living in there. But what I was blessed with in disguise was my address; St. James between Gates and Greene. Lo and behold, 30 seconds away from my crib, another rapper called the same hood "home” – Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious BIG.
Right on St. James between Gates and Fulton was Biggie, and as an aspiring 10 year-old rapper, I couldn't have asked for better training than to live literally up the block from the man who would later be dubbed "the greatest of all time". When I moved to the Stuy, BIG wasn't the world-renowned rapper he later became. He had actually just signed his deal with Diddy and was still in the ‘hood heavy. I saw him come up. The "Juicy" video was shot in my hood and seeing Lil' Kim and Lil' Cease was a regular thing. Witnessing all of that was more motivation than anyone could dream of. The thing I got from it all was that anyone could be from our neighborhood and make it. I literally saw BIG go from white tees to coogi sweaters, Timbs to Gators, etc, and through it all, he never changed who he was. He always showed all the little kids love, always came back to the block and always stayed in touch with St. James.
Musically, there was no one like BIG. When "Ready To Die" dropped, there had never been anything similar to it before. The cinematics, the story telling, the vividness, the reality, it all came through loud and clear. BIG embodied Brooklyn in every way possible, from his language to the way he carried himself to his personality, he was everything the borough is about. In a climate where New York was not the furthest thing from being in demand (sounds eerily familiar to 2008), BIG pulled a sneak attack on everyone and created one of the best pieces of music ever. Ready To Die gave a sound to New York that seemed inexistent. In the summer of 1994, Queensbridge's favorite son Nas dropped Illmatic, easily another one of the best albums ever. The difference though, and what made NYC come back via Ready to Die was the universal appeal and acceptance of BIG's debut as opposed to Nas'. Illmatic was a brilliant body of work but lacked the promotion and mass appeal feel that BIG's was so heavy on. One would rightfully imagine that a lot of that appeal was Diddy's doing, but also BIG's ability to branch out and write the "Big Poppa's", "Juicy's", and "One More Chance's" that propelled Ready To Die to 2 million scans. New York had a king, and he hailed from the Stuy.
Throughout 1995, NY had a re-emergence as a force to be reckoned with. Tons of artists from NY were able to drive in the open lane that BIG created and succeed, dubbing 1995 "the greatest year in hip-hop". The West Coast still had a strong and valuable presence while the South and Midwest were able to exist successfully alongside a crown wearing East. BIG pioneered that, giving people musical variety on the radio, at the record store or on the mixtape scene. Even DJ Clue, who at the time was a smaller DJ trying to come up, made a name for himself by leaking a BIG record and riding that wave of success. Legend has it that Clue stole an early unmixed copy of "One More Chance" and leaked on a tape before ANYONE had it. Radio, clubs, NO ONE even knew the record existed. Word is Bad Boy was furious with Clue until they saw how BIG the record became in a matter of days. Even unconsciously BIG birthed careers.
1996 saw BIG get into a car accident that sidelined him for a good amount of months, leaving him all the time in the world to be secluded and write (or brainstorm rather, being that BIG didn't use pads and pens) what would unexpectedly be his swan song, "Life After Death". Recruiting an all star line up of producers and artists, Life After Death put people like Too Short and the RZA on the same album, introduced the world to a few 21 year-olds named Mase and The Lox, and showed the game how to make a double album (something a lot of rappers still haven't nailed). Orchestration was introduced to hip-hop as a variety of tracks were created beyond the typical "beat and rhyme" blueprint. Everything matched, mattered, and made sense. The bar was raised to unbelievable heights courtesy of songs like "Notorious Thugs", "Ni**as Bleed", and "The 10 Crack Commandments". BIG even showed a sensitive and semi-conscious side via "Miss U" and "Sky's The Limit", while headlocking the crossover world with "Mo Money Mo Problems" and "Hypnotize". BIG had done the unthinkable, back to back classics, a two-peat, and most likely he'd be aiming for a third for a Bulls-like legacy.
Unfortunately, as well all know, BIG never got to see his second go-round affect the world. Gunned down exactly two weeks before its release, BIG never knew the feeling of receiving critical acclaim twice in a row. St. James and Fulton became parade grounds when BIG's body was driven through the street after his funeral, with all of us in my hood not wanting to let go of NY's hero, and most of all, our hero. His work still lives on, as we've seen remixes, greatest hits, and duet albums release from the Bad Boy camp to commemorate the greatest of all time and the legacy he built. From dolls to clothing to a cafe (the "Frank White Cafe" on Atlantic ave in BK is great! Google it and stop through. Tell them I sent you, haha) have all been successful due to BIG's brand and the respect and love he earned. Even a feature film, starring Angela Bassett, Derek Luke, Anthony Mackie and Gravy, playing the coveted roll of Chris Wallace.
So here's to Biggie Smalls, one the greatest story tellers our culture has ever seen. The pride of Bed Stuy, the king of New York. This week's iTunes pick of the week is "Everyday Struggle", my favorite song off of Ready To Die. Cop that and vibe out to story telling at it's best. RIP Biggie, you were and still are the king.
Next week I'll be back with a new journal for y’all to check out. Thanks again for the patience, and as always they call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O.
Waddup, world, waddup, HipHopGame? Still live from the 718, it's your man Skyzoo back at it again. As always, thanks for checking in and reading the new journals, it's still greatly appreciated. Also, happy New Year to everyone reading. Shout out to everyone for making it into another year, and a special shout out to everyone who hit me up on MySpace on December 24 for my birthday. It's dope when you can connect to fans and they can wish you well on your B-Day via the ‘net. Thanks to all of y’all for thinking of the dude on Christmas Eve.
For me, the New Year will bring more music and more opportunities to share with all y’all listening on the regular. I'm wrapping up this iTunes project and working on some additional stuff as well. The first single should be up here on HHG real soon, so get ready. Also, shout out to Scervin Beats for winning the remix contest. Like I said before, there were hundreds upon hundreds of entries and the decision wasn't an easy one, but ultimately I went with the beat that captured the essence of the lyrics. I felt like his beat spoke in the same tone as what I said in the rhyme, so it meshed really well. Shout to everyone who submitted remixes, I appreciate it all. And if you still wanna submit more beats, peep my blogs on my MySpace page. There's an older blog about where to send beats to.
This week's topic isn't technically a "hip-hop" topic, but the impact it's had on the culture and vice versa is as bright as day. So I felt it was only right to speak on my favorite thing in the world BESIDES music: HBO's The Wire. Off top, there's never been nor will there ever be another television series better than The Wire. Hands down, nothing captures the urban experience, and more so the American experience so correctly while not glorifying it or preaching down on it, but rather finding a median in between. No show has ever been as honest and brutal yet beautiful at the same time. The Wire will easily stand the test of time as legendary documentation. The way William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens and Langston Hughes are still praised years later for their achievements, so will The Wire.
From Season 1, where the drug trade was shown and why it exists the way it does, the graphic nature alone showed that David Simon and Ed Burns (the show's masterminds) weren't afraid to tell the truth. Written from the view of the everyman's eyes, no one is shown as right or wrong, but really just victims of what has become our country.
Each season after that went into a subject that unnoticeably branched off into something different but still connected to the same tree. From the port to the reform and city hall to the education system, it proved that nothing was born or made the way it currently is. Everything starts from somewhere; and if we know this from proof through years of decay, then why hasn't anything been done to improve on the obvious?
To me, Season 4 was the best so far, easily (although Season 2 comes in at a close second. Even with the lack of "’hood shit" in the second season, it proved to make the story that much bigger). The issue of where the kingpins (the Avon’s, Stringers and Marlo’s,), killers (the Omar’s, Chris' and Snoop’s), and the fiends (the Bubbles', Johnny's, etc.) all come from. Where they stem from, what stems that, and why the so called "leaders" continue to fail them early on, therefore birthing more of the same.
The additional genius of The Wire is almost accidental, whereas it has connected to our hip-hop culture in ways that Mr. Simon and Mr. Burns may not have forseen. From guest roles on the show to references in songs to borrowing nicknames from the show's characters, the connection between hip-hop and The Wire is hand in hand, and every rapper alive seems to be getting a hold of it somehow.
What also makes The Wire so original is the star of the show; Baltimore. No show has ever NOT had a lead character and been successful. Anyone can meet their demise at any given moment, i.e. Stringer Bell, Bodie, Wallace, D'angelo, etc, and that's what makes the story so believable, because on the real corners there is no star, no lead character, and no one is untouchable. Baltimore's pride in the show is one of many arguments that the brains behind The Wire are doing more than an exceptional job at painting our picture.
So here's to The Wire, the greatest show ever created for television, one of the best stories ever told, and its bittersweet ending. Shout out to all my Wire fanatics (Phonte, waddup!), and hats off to the entire staff, cast, crew and everyone else behind The Wire. Thanks for getting it right.
In light of this week's topic, it only makes sense that the iTunes pick of the week is "Way Down In The Hole" by Tom Waits. This is the original song that the theme for The Wire was revised from. Each season there was a different interpretation of the song (and an additional hip-hop version on my MySpace page, haha) where the music changed but the lyrics remained the same. Tom Waits is a gospel/blues artist who has an interesting way of approaching music to say the least. Google him and check out what I mean, and go get the original "Way Down In The Hole" on iTunes.
Also, as an additional bonus, I recently went to the premiere party for The Wire here in NYC, so below are some pictures from the event. Enjoy.
I'll be back next week with another topic to tackle. As always, they call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O.
One, two, one, two, whaddup, HipHopGame? As usual, coming live from the 718 as always, we're back at it for another week. It's another journal entry and another topic to get into. Good looking for checking in and staying on board. Also, thanks to everyone for being a part of the remix contest. I appreciate everybody who took the time out to make the remixes and I'm going through them all as we speak. So far, the music has been incredible. The decision is harder than I had imagined it would be, but I guess that's a good thing.
Moving on, the topic for this week is a topic I wanted to get into for awhile but I fell back on it for a minute. The topic is female rappers, and the reason being is because I feel that there's a lot huge void in the realm of female rappers in the game right now. The whole genre of female rappers tends to get overlooked. When people name their favorite rappers, they name Rakim, Jay-Z, Nas, Big Daddy Kane and all of the greats that we grew up on. Females will name dudes but dudes won't name females. When I was coming up, I was listening to all of my favorites like Kane, G. Rap and Biggie, but I was also aware of Salt N Pepa, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Monie Love and all the great females in the game. I think a little more light needs to be shed on the women.
There's not too many in the game right now that are really getting that light, so I figured I would get into that and try to open it up a little bit. Ever since back in the day, we've had female legends. I think they opened the door in a lot of ways for a lot of women and a lot of men, ironically. What they accomplished helped hip-hop grow in a lot of different ways. Hip-hop was always looked at as something hard and gritty for the dudes in the streets, which it was and is, but that leaves little room for a woman's perspective to be shown who's living under the same conditions as the men who appreciate hip-hop. So when women got on the mic, it gave the music another voice. When Queen Latifah did "Ladies First", it gave hip-hop another side to be proud of. When Salt N Pepa did "Push It", it gave hip-hop another voice and got into the sexy side of hip-hop as well. I don't know one dude that doesn't like females. No matter how much of a hardcore hip-hop fan you are, everyone loves having a female bad around.
We should appreciate having females in the game, from the Mia X's to the Jackie-O's to the Trina's. There are so many females who have done a lot, like Da Brat. She came from Chicago, which at the time wasn't a huge home for hip-hop and she popped off to the moon. Back in the day, Da Brat was looked at as a female Snoop. She came up when Common and Crucial Conflict and the Speedknot Mobstaz were all coming up and she held her own. She was the first female soloist in hip-hip to scan 1 million albums. That's an amazing feat to have under your belt. Then you had other females from the Chi like Shawnna and her group Infamous Syndicate who were able to shine through that initial light. Nowadays you have girls like Jean Grae, Remy, Rah Digga, Just and Mala Reignz who all get busy. Then you got your trendsetters like Foxy and Lil' Kim. The two of them have both taken the game to places beyond belief for women, not to mention Lauryn Hill, who is arguably one of the dopest to come out in the past 15 years. Her talent is unparalleled. It's second to none. She's doing different things now that may throw us off, but I think she still has it deep down. There have been so many women. You had Lady of Rage from the West Coast who did here thing. You had Yo-Yo and Smooth. The list goes on and on. There have been so many females. The more I look back and the more I remember, I see how many more females impacted the game. It just gave a whole 'nother voice to the game. And everyone loves having a female around. I always like having females around me!
I think labels are falling back from finding female rappers. It's hard to find a male rapper that can really crossover and make music that's viable to everyone in today's climate, so the task seems that much harder for girls. Women get the short end of the stick with everything, whether it's Hollywood or rapping or working a 9-5. That's the way that we as a people are built. I think the labels are having a hard time signing a woman because they're scared of the potential risk, but women have been proven to sell records. I think Foxy has sold
7.5 million worldwide. Lil' Kim has sold around 13 million. Eve's at 10 million and Missy's at 20 million. Labels look at it as a risk, but as long as it's good music and everyone does their part, it shouldn't be an issue. Right now, there's a couple of females that I rock with real heavy. I rock with Nina B from BK, Poca from the Bronx and Rapsody out of North Carolina. I'm banking on them. Give them their shot and they can do it. Those three can each easily do it. They're really, really monsters when it comes to the mic and when it comes to making real music. They've made some of the most beautiful music I've heard in a minute. If I had the opportunity, I would sign all of them in a heartbeat. That's my perspective. Don't sleep on the females. They bring the sensual side as well. Don't sleep on the females. The females are really, really dope.
I just wanted to get that out there real quick. I had been thinking about that for awhile so I'm glad I got to do it. Pardon me for not listing all of the female rappers. There are tons, but I wanted to give a brief overview of what females have done in the game. Google them and you will find some of the dopest chicks in the game. What they've done is not to be taken lightly. I think the labels will definitely be picking up more females soon. It's just a matter of time. When Lil' Kim dropped Hardcore and Foxy dropped Ill Na Na in '96, I know dudes that were bumping those on repeat. Those were great records to me. Those are two borderline classics and two great records. Anybody that's a real hip-hop connoisseur should definitely have those in their collection. Don't sleep on the females.
In honor of this week's topic, the iTunes pick of the week comes from none other than MC Lyte. The song is "10% Dis" off the 1988 classic "Lyte As A Rock". Go get that now!
Next week, we'll be getting into another topic. Until then, get at me on the MySpace page at myspace.com/skyzoo. As always, they call me, S-K-Y, Z-O-O.
Skyzoo is starting a remix contest for a song to be featured on his upcoming Corner Store Classic remix project exclusively for iTunes. See the HHG news headlines for more details.
One, two, whaddup, HipHopGame, whaddup, World? We’re back for another journal. Shout out to everybody reading the journal. I appreciate you all. And shout out to everyone who showed me love on the “Superstar Freestyle” that I dropped. Lupe’s record is real dope and I like the melody and what he was kicking on it. I just really liked the whole record. When I heard it, I had the idea to flip the concept and keep it in the same vein. I literally wrote the record in 30 minutes and it came out real dope. It was just something I did to do, just for fun. I haven’t had a song on the internet in a minute because Corner Store Classic has really been holding me down. A lot of people have been downloading it and that’s what really held me down as far as my presence on the internet. I figured I would jump off some new joints with that. Shout out to everybody that showed love on that, as well as the “Stop Fronting” record, produced by Eric G., from the King Magazine tape. I got some more tracks that are coming up that are going to be crazy.
This week I want to get into doing shows and having stage performances and everything. It’s one thing to get on stage, it’s another thing to rock the crowd. I recently did a show in NC with my man 9th Wonder for his Dream Merchant album release. The bill consisted of myself, 9th, Jean Grae, Murs, The Away Team, Big Remo and Big Treal, Torae, Chaundon, Jozeemo, Tightman, Tyler Woods, Joe Scudda, Vandalyzm, Rapsody, M1 Platoon and tons of others. It was definitely one for the books. The crowd at Cat’s Cradle was in full force and packed out the venue. Doing shows and getting the crowd to react to every word of your set is what makes this game worth it all. I knew when it was time for the next journal I wanted to do it based off of that show and the concept of shows in general. This weeks’ journal is going to break down what it takes to really be dope on stage and rock in front of strangers. No matter who you are, when you get on stage, those people in front of you are strangers. You don’t know them. To the crowd, you’re not a stranger. They feel like they know you and may even feel like they have a relationship with you if you’ve been out there already. But if you’re a new artist, you’re new to that crowd. They’re a stranger to you and you’re a stranger to them. You have about 10 minutes to get familiar with them and for them to feel like you’re not a stranger anymore. You want them to feel like they know you, are one with you and can relate to you.
Some artists are great lyrically, but their stage show isn’t really parallel. They can jump on stage with 30 dudes and rock, but that doesn’t necessarily make a great show. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s a part of your brand and what you’re trying to do, but if it’s not crazy, it doesn’t really mean anything or make a great show. You have people who can rock the stage by themselves like Doug E. Fresh and still demolish the crowd. A lot of legends are looked at for their lyrics and records that make them who they are, but along with that status is the almighty stage show. It gets overlooked but it’s a crucial part in the making of a legend’s career. Artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Nas, Busta, Red and Meth, they all have dope shows. Jay-Z has a great stage show. It looks like more of an event. He doesn’t jump around or anything, but instead relies on the way he lets his swagger take over the crowd. He has a great presence. T.I. has a great stage show as well. I’ve seen T.I. rock. T.I. is crazy on stage. He’s cool and laid back on TV and in his videos, but to see him on stage, he’s a totally different person. He’s jumping around and jumping in the crowd and bouncing off the walls, it’s like a completely persona. T.I. has a great stage show. Ludacris has a great stage show. There are a lot of people out there with great stage shows.
A lot of people really underestimate the stage show. But while record sales decrease, the one thing that’s always going to exist is the stage show. Even if people download your music, they still want to see you live. There will always be show money, unless they start cloning people. A lot of people underestimate that and it is the biggest part of an artist’s career from a business standpoint. It is a big part when you’re marking and promoting an album and planning on a release date and radio promos and TV shows. A big part, if not the biggest part, is the tour and where you’re going to go, what markets you’re going to hit and who you’re going to go on tour with. It’s all about doing shows.
One of the greatest performers ever, and people front on him as a rapper, is P. Diddy. Diddy is great on stage. One of the first concerts I ever went to was in 1997. It was the Puff Daddy and the Family No Way Out Tour. It was at the Garden here in NYC. I’ll never forget it. I was 15 years-old and it was one of the first big venue shows I ever went to. It was amazing. Usher was opening up and that shows you how long ago it was because Usher doesn’t open up for anybody. There was Jay, Foxy, Busta Rhymes, the Lox, Mase, Black Rob, Junior Mafia and Diddy. It was out of control. Puff did what nobody was able to do and that was cross over hip-hop to mainstream America, and get it not just accepted, but wanted. A big part of how he crossed over was through the stage show and not doing the average shows. He did arenas and he sold them out. He sold out Madison Square Garden and all these arenas across the world. The show that he put on, you would have thought it was N-Sync, Backstreet Boys or the Spice Girls. It was so epic. There was so much money involved. He had all these pyrotechnics involved, stuff blowing up and all these people flying in the air. But you still had the Lox, Black Rob and Jay-Z on the tour to balance it out. It wasn’t anything sweet. It was still hard hip-hop, but it had that crossover appeal. It was one of the dopest tours ever.
So to all you up-and-coming artists, when you’re doing your shows, keep in mind that you have to have a good stage show. But on the flipside, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. You just have to have hat passion and that showmanship. You have to have that charisma and hunger. You don’t have to spend $10 million on a stage show. You can do it with a mic and a DJ, simple and plain. It’s all about painting that picture on stage just like you do in your music and videos. Some of these dudes really go in like that. You may watch videos on YouTube instead of on TV and you may download music, but the stage show is not going anywhere. They’re never going to leave.
On that note, get your stage show right. We’ll be back next week with another topic. Who knows what it will be. The iTunes Pick of the Week is going to be from T.I. This is the first hip-hop Pick of the Week. I told you we would do this sometimes. So in light of everything he’s dealing with, we’re gonna do this for the boy Tip this week. The song is “Doin’ My Job” off his album Trap Muzik. That’s one of my favorite albums of all-time. People who know me know that. T.I., hold your head with everything you’re going through.
As we always do, I’ll see y’all next week. They call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O.
Whaddup, HipHopGame? We’re back at it. It's your man Skyzoo, back here live once again from the 718. I apologize for the brief intermission with the journals. I've been busy promoting a lot of the stuff that I have going on so I was a little caught up. My apologies to those who check for the new journals every week. I dig your faithfulness, and as you know, this is the best journal, period. This is still the best journal on the market and I promise to keep it that way. Anybody regularly reading these knows that. Therefore I appreciate you coming back every week.
Corner Store Classic is still doing great things. Shout out to XXL magazine for the XL rating. Leah Rose, Matt Barone, Timmotep and the crew at XXL always hold me down. Shout out to Mecca at the Source magazine as well. I'm in the new issue with David Banner on the cover. Shout out to them for holding me down. And big shout out to Talib Kweli for shouting me out in his new record. Talib Kweli did a new record called "Lightworking" with Q-Tip over a J Dilla beat for a Stones Throw compilation. In the verse he said, "Rhyme for survival/I rep BK like BIG, Jay and Skyzoo." Shout out to him for putting me in there with the greats. That means so much on so many different levels. I can't express that enough.
This week's topic is album sales, or what once was. I think we can jump it off with the showdown that everyone and their mother was looking forward to, 50 Cent vs. Kanye. As you know, Kanye won with over 900,000 units in 7 days, so congrats to ‘Ye. 50 Cent came in second, which is new to him, but the numbers he did are no walk in the park. Over 600,000 in one week is amazing. That shouldn't be looked at as small by any means. In this day in age, artists aren't selling those numbers on an album after a year, let alone a week, so congrats to 50 as well.
On September 11 I went to the store like everybody else, ready to cop. I got there and the store was packed pretty good. Customers of all kinds were there. Some copped Kanye, some copped 50, and some, like me, copped both. When I went to the store, I didn't go as Skyzoo the rapper. I went in as Skyler the fan; with the hopes of copping two great CDs. I think the best thing about it was seeing people crowded around the CD section and being excited about music again. I haven't seen that excitement in hip-hop since 50 dropped Get Rich or Die Trying. It's ironic that he was involved with this same excitement again. I haven't seen people running to the store that heavy since back then.
I was going to the store hoping they didn't sell out. It's been years since that's happened. You know that's not going to happen nowadays because everybody's on iTunes or YouSendIt and nobody's buying albums, so there's always copies left at the stores. People aren't scared about that anymore. The odds of a record store being sold out of an album are slim to none. So on the 11th, the two albums were both there and it was dope to see people around the CD section and everybody walking around the store had either one or two CDs in their hand; Graduation, Curtis, or both. It was a great feeling. People were talking about who they liked better and why and what they were expecting from the CDs. All sorts of convos were taking place. It made me feel good to walk in there as a fan. The artist side of me kicked in a little bit and it made me feel like maybe there's hope. I know CDs are going to be a wrap in a few years, but for the time being, maybe there's still hope.
It's no surprise to anyone that record sales have been below anything that we have ever seen. While at the same time, ringtone sales have become the new norm and are going up higher and higher and now everybody has their views on it and so forth. I have a similar but different take on it from others, being that I view it from an artist's side. There are a lot of things that go into any product being sold, whether it's the marketing and promotion or whatever else. Whether it's CDs or burgers and fries, it's the same thing, but it all starts with the product. The burger has to taste good and the CD has to be dope. A big part of it is the music. There is dope music out there, but the downside of it is that you have to go out and search so hard for it because it's not put in people's faces. The game is now like fast food. You get the food quick and it's not really the greatest thing in the world for you, but you put it down and you're not hungry anymore. After awhile though, you'll be hungry again. You need a good Italian meal or some good soul food or what have you, something that takes some time and real work and passion to prepare to really get the job done. It takes the right ingredients and everything has to be perfect for the meal. It's a dope balance because it tastes good and it's good for you. It's a great balance. But nowadays the music is just something for you to get you over your hunger quickly and then you want something totally different. That's the way the game is now. Cats are just running in and out with the food and as a result, the people suffer. The people that are making the food aren't suffering. The people that are eating the food are suffering. It's the same way with the music. The people are suffering. I'm not against hit singles by any means. I got a ton of hit singles that I'm waiting to release to the world. I'm not against any dance singles or club songs as long as the authenticity is behind it. I'm for it all day as long as it's done right. I'm for the Timbaland pop records and the Justin Timberlake records. I just bought the will.i.am record and it's dope as hell. It has to be done the right way. You can look at that as the downside of sales today.
On the flip side, it has to be promoted right. The "fast food" is promoted incredibly these days. You have internet promotion, video promotion, magazine promotion, worldwide tours and everything. Before you know it, you have to succumb to it. Some people may be considered underground, not because of the music they're making but because they don't have the budget for the radio or promotion. They don't have the budget to have the biggest DJs play their record 30 times a day or have a commercial on MTV every five minutes or an ad in a magazine. They don't have that budget for those outlets. So that good home-cooked meal gets overlooked. You can't fault people for not knowing that certain artists and music exists. If they knew, maybe they would grab some of that too. Maybe they would grab that along with their fast food, or better yet as opposed to it. It's all about the marketing and promotion and all of that plays into it. I think that all of that combined can be the downside of record sales. There's a whole lot that goes into it and I think that a lot of people take it for what it is on a small scale, but there’s a bigger picture. The only types of music that are suffering sales-wise are hip-hop, R&B and sometimes pop. But for the most part, it's hip-hop and R&B. The reason being that hip-hop and R&B are suffering is because those two genres are younger genres of music. They're geared to a younger crowd. They're geared to people between 14-25, maybe 14-30 at the most. That crowd is a "want it now, give it to me now, as soon as I get it I'm over it" crowd. That's the crowd that it goes to.
That kid in high school wants that new pair of sneakers, but once everybody else gets them, that kid is over it. The girl wants that Juicy sweatsuit until every other girl gets it. Then she wants something else that's exclusive. It's like that with vintage Jordans or fitteds or Polo shirts. It's the same thing with the music when you're gearing it towards a younger crowd. Jazz sales aren't down because none of those fans are going on the computer to download it. If Kanye's album comes out today, it's on Limewire a week early because somebody's leaked it, whether it's the pressing plant or the label or someone else. Everybody wants to go on and say, "I got Kanye's album first. I got the link. Holler at me if you want it." And everybody starts passing the link around, but everyone wants to be first. Then they start critiquing it and then they're ready for the next album. They want to be the one to say, "I got it first and I hate it" or "I got it first and I like it, but I'm over it. What's next?"
Look at the music that's geared to their parents though. They're not downloading it on Limewire and they're not sending each other YouSendIt files. When Wayman Tisdale or Chris Botti drops a new CD, those fans will go to the store and buy it and listen to it on their way to work. They don't want somebody else to burn them a copy. They're not looking for it on the ‘net unless it's on Amazon.com where they can order the CD. Reba McEntire's fans are not going on the 'net to download her LP. They refuse to go on the 'net to download it so you're not going to find it on the 'net or find that it leaked. She's definitely more popular than Kanye and 50 Cent, so her album would have a better chance of leaking, but no one on that level cares about getting it first. They want to go to the store, cop it, look at the artwork/pictures, read about it and support it. That's the difference between hip-hop and R&B and all of the other genres of the music. The other genres are not going to experience a fall because their fans are still going to buy the CD. They're may hit iTunes to buy it on there but they'll still buy the official CD. They'll cop the iTunes version for their iPod when they go jogging and still have the CD for their car.
With a hip-hop album, it's, ‘You don't have it yet? I'll send it to you.’ That's how it is with us. We have to be aware of that and we have to think differently. If we want this game to continue to succeed, then we have to take that into account. There are plenty of CDs that I heard early, but I still copped them because I want to see the genre continue to grow. Word is that CDs are not going to exist in a couple of years, which is going to be a huge hit for artists. "Real" hip-hop artists aren't going to sell any CDs if their fanbase won't even cop. You have a lot of kids who love Little Brother and love Lupe and love Talib. They're the biggest fans in the world but they won't cop. They're going to download it a week early, review it on their MySpace page and then they'll be over it. Dudes will go on the 'net and praise Little Brother, but then they won't go to the store and cop the album. It's a Catch 22. People can talk the talk but they can't walk the walk. Go buy the CDs so the labels will be quicker to sign somebody that doesn't have a dance to go with their songs. Kanye doing 900,000 was amazing for a "real" hip-hop head. That means that if he did those numbers, a Sony or Atlantic or Def Jam can look at it like, 'This dude is popping. We need to sign more dudes like this.' Other dudes like that might start getting picked up more. Everything that people did for Kanye and 50, they have to keep doing it. And keep supporting me. I'm going to keep on doing me regardless. I'm going to give you the best product possible, so make sure you go cop when the time is right.
Next week I'll get into another topic. In the meantime, keep buying CDs and keep supporting. Also, my man AC has a video blog coming here on HHG of us in the studio recording a song produced by Rain. AC is my man and he's a dope MC so check that out when it's up.
This week's iTunes Pick of the Week is from Kenna. It's called “Say Goodbye To Love.” It's amazing. For those who don't know Kenna, Kenna is a dude from Virginia who's signed to Star Trak. Chad Hugo produced all of his album except for two records that Pharrell did. His music is amazing. When the album drops, definitely go cop it. So again, the pick this week is from Kenna, and it's called “Say Goodbye To Love.” The album is called Make Sure They See My Face.
Aight, y’all, holla at me on the MySpace page and check in right here next week for the new journal. And as always, they call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O.
One, two, whaddup, HipHopGame? Whaddup, world? It’s your man Skyzoo, coming live from the 718 as always. Thanks to everybody for taking the time to check out the journal and check out my opinions and my views on the game. And good looking once again on all the love for the love on the Corner Store Classic mixtape. Shout out to XXL for giving me a great review on the mixtape and shout out to all of the sites that are showing me love on everything. There’s a lot more incredible music on the way, so be on the lookout for that.
This week, we’re going to get into a real controversial topic for anybody that loves hip-hop. We’re going to get into what makes up a so-called “classic album.” To me, a classic album is something that stands the test of time. It’s not something that can be decided the day the album comes out. I think it’s something that still makes sense musically years after its initial release. An album may have the potential to be a classic and you may have loved where the artist went with it and the approach they took with it. That doesn’t certify it as a classic album right away, but it has the potential to be one. It can be a perfect album and then have the potential to be a classic album later. If people are still talking about it and if people are still buying it again and again, I think that’s when it becomes a classic album.
A lot of times, people prematurely call albums a “classic” based on the promotions behind it, based on the setup and based on how dope the album is. An album can be a perfect album, but it has to stand the test of time to be a classic. I think, in my opinion, Ready to Die, Reasonable Doubt, Illmatic, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Black on Both Sides, No Way Out, The Blueprint, The College Dropout, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, Get Rich or Die Trying, so on and so forth, are all classic albums. There are obviously tons of others but that’s what comes to mind right away. There are a lot of classic albums but there are also times when there is nothing else that’s out so an album gets named a classic because there’s nothing else available that’s competing with it. There’s nothing as dope as it is, so it may be looked at as a classic where if it came out a year or two earlier or later, it may just be looked at as another dope album.
A lot goes into making a classic album. I think a lot is in the production. It’s in the lyrics, obviously, as well as in the features, the conceptualism, etc. Also, the promotion, what singles come out first, second and third and the videos that go along with them. The artist, lyrics and concepts can be incredible, but if the beats are average, it takes away from it. The album has to be nuts all the way around. A lot of times you will have an artist that will make a dope album with dope beats, dope rhymes and dope concepts, but there will be too many features on it. There will be 16 songs and 12 features on it and that automatically takes away the classic tag.
You have to know classic albums before you make one. To know where you’re going you have to know where you’ve been. You have to look at classic albums that are not just classics to you and your homeboys but are classic to everybody. For example, everyone can have their own opinion and everybody’s entitled to that, but you can’t say that Get Rich Or Die Trying is not a classic album. From the music itself to the way people reacted to it the first two weeks it was out, to the way people still talk about it, the way it’s still supported and how people still buy it if they break their copy. There aren’t many records that make people go and do that. It changed the game, period. When an album changes the game, that’s when it’s easily a classic.
That’s the same way Ready to Die changed the game when Dre and Snoop were running it. They had classics like The Chronic, Doggystyle and N.W.A.’s albums. But when Ready to Die came out, it just changed the whole climate of music and it changed what songs and videos were being played and it changed who labels were signing. It changed the way everything was. I remember RZA saying, “When Ready to Die came out, you had to step up. Whatever you were doing before, you have to multiply that. You have to take what you’re doing and turn it up about ten levels.” So you can’t really argue whether or not Ready to Die is a classic.
It’s also like that for Reasonable Doubt and Illmatic. But those two albums in particular though, it took awhile for them to get accredited as “classics.” I think in the ‘hood we knew right away that they were classics. You could hear them anywhere you went in New York when they dropped. You couldn’t go to any projects in New York without somebody blasting them out of their window. But those albums took awhile to break. It took Nas It Was Written to become known as a star, but Illmatic is one of the greatest albums made, period. People still go and buy Illmatic today just like people do for Reasonable Doubt. When Jay dropped Reasonable Doubt, everybody was loving it but nobody really knew who Jay was outside of the hood. Now if you look at it, you can turn on any program about classics and everybody automatically mentions Reasonable Doubt. So certain things take longer, but albums like Ready to Die had the components to make it a classic. Off of one album, Big was able to say that he was the best. When he was making Life After Death, he was already saying that he was the best and he had every reason to because his music was that strong and his impact was that heavy.
I think another album that did that is Kanye West’s College Dropout. I think that changed the game too because the climate was one way after 50’s Get Rich or Die Trying. His music changed the way people viewed hip-hop at the time. People still loved 50, but what Kanye did was he gave people another outlook on things and he helped create another lane. Beats, rhymes, orchestration, push, promo, the whole nine, I think that album is definitely a classic.
There are definitely a lot of classics, but I think there are also a lot of albums that have come out that are not classics. Just because an artist puts a lot of albums out and finally puts one out that blows people’s minds, it doesn’t mean that it’s a classic. It just means that it’s the artist’s best work.
Some people call my EP Cloud 9 a classic and I appreciate that and I feel it’s a classic in certain ways, but I think it still has life ahead of it. If it stands the test of time (which I know it will), then we can agree on giving it the classic status. But I do believe it’s there. I feel that you can call it a perfect album and that’s not to toot my own horn because I’m still working on my craft, but I look at it as a cult classic. The people in the underground knew about it. There wasn’t any radio play or any video play that really accompanied that. It was something that the people in the loop knew about. You either supported it and liked it or didn’t like it, but I think it was one of those projects that was a cult favorite or a cult classic. I’m not one of those people that say I make classics or that my debut album is going to be a classic. I’m going to do my best and I’m going to let my fans call my music what they want to call it. I’m not going to be saying in interviews, “I made a classic album.” I’m going to let the fans decide that and I think the artists themselves have to be careful and let the people make up their own minds. The same goes for a lot of writers. I think you have to leave it up to the fans and the way music changes, or doesn’t change, when you put the album out there. There are so many albums that are classics like UGK’s Riding Dirty, Outkast’s Aquemini and T.I.’s Trap Muzik. But be on the lookout for me to make a great album and let y’all decide if it’s a classic or not.
As always, next week we’ll be back with another topic and another outlet.
This week’s iTunes Pick of the Week comes from my dudes Gym Class Heroes. For those that don’t know about the Gym Class Heroes, they’re one of the dopest new bands out. As Cruel As School Children is their album and it’s sick to me. The pick of the week this week is the Gym Class Heroes’ “Scandalous Scholastics.” Holla at me and let me know if you think it was a good pick, bad pick, whatever. But my dudes GCH really get busy.
Next week, I’ll be back. Holla at me. And as always, they call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O
Whaddup, HipHopGame? Whaddup, world? What’s going on? It’s your man Skyzoo, live from the 718 as always. I’m starting this journal out the way I always do, being real appreciative and saying “Thank you” for all of the love y’all been giving me these past few weeks with the journals and the music.
This past week has been a real big week for me. The Corner Store Classic mixtape came out and everybody really loves it and there is a lot of support being shown. The responses and feedback on it have been nothing but incredible. I’ve been getting flawless reviews on it and it’s critically-acclaimed. I couldn’t have written the script any better. I appreciate all of the love that y’all have been showing. The tape has been doing incredible numbers. Shout outs to everyone involved, from Kay Slay to Mick Boogie to my manager Rick Caps to my whole crew and everybody who’s pushed the tape, everybody who produced on the tape, everybody who was featured on the tape and to HipHopGame who held me down with the promo of the tape. I just want to say good looking to y’all.
I threw a mixtape release party at a club in NYC called NOVO, and it was craaazy! My mans DJ Reg West and DJ Reason spun the party and Freebase Clothing and King Magazine held me down with the sponsorship. We packed the spot out, gave away gift bags and popped bottles heavy! Peep the pictures on my MySpace page soon. It was a great way to spark the fire that would become the tape of the summer and hopefully of the year. Now that the tape is out and everybody’s bumping it in their iPods, trucks and walkmans, it’s only right that we get into the topic of mixtapes. This is a topic that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but I wanted to have my mixtape out before I talked about it.
As we all know, the mixtape game is real sour right now. It’s still one of the most vital parts of hip-hop, period, from back in the late ‘80s to when mixtapes first became popular to now in 2007, where a day doesn’t go by without 300 mixtapes dropping every day across the nation. That’s not even counting overseas. Mixtapes are one of the most important, if not THE most important part of breaking an artist’s career. There’s not an artist that’s come out in the last seven or eight years without the help of the mixtapes. From Ron G and Kid Capri to Clue and Kay Slay, from when the tapes really were cassette tapes and you couldn’t go online to get them, from when you had to go to Beat Street or your local barber shops to cop them, it’s been a long road and the mixtapes have changed tremendously.
Ever since the DJ Drama and Don Cannon situation earlier this year (shout out to Drama and Cannon, both big supporters of mine), the mixtape game has just been real salty. Everybody has their own opinions and feelings about the mixtape game. The way I feel about it, the hip-hop community should’ve supported them a little bit more. I don’t mean the fans when I say that. The fans definitely showed their support and held DJ Drama and Don Cannon down. But I think the industry should have held them down more. The industry has survived, for the most part, because of mixtapes. There’ve been other things, but look at what 50 Cent and G-Unit have done from mixtapes since they came out. Look at the incredible run they had in 2002. He’s a big reason why everyone is still making money in this. He can put out an album, a movie, a soundtrack and a video game and make money in all of them; and that all came from the presence he built through his mixtape run. The same thing goes for Young Jeezy, Cam’ron, T.I., The Clipse, and tons of others.
I feel that the industry should have showed more love to Drama and Don Cannon. When you’re making money and looking out for those around you, everybody is your best friend in the world. But when something happens to you and the money stops coming in or you get sent away for awhile or something like that, those same people don’t really want to be bothered anymore. They can’t hold you down in return or even send you a kite. Some labels did support, but I think that the labels as a whole should have supported a whole lot more. I think they should have told the RIAA that they’re down with the mixtapes and that they sometimes even pay the DJs to do mixtapes. There’s times when an artist may not have the buzz that their label wants them to have. They may be big in their hometown but not anywhere outside of that. So a label will hire a Big Mike or a Drama or a Don Cannon and say, “We just signed so-and-so from such-and-such and we want to get the market open to him.” The label will pay to press it up, get it all over the internet and all over the streets. These are all factors that the RIAA probably doesn’t know. Years ago, mixtapes were a foreign language for the most part, so labels back then didn’t know the M-O of mixtapes and the science behind mixtapes. Now labels are asking aspiring artists for their mixtape history and how many mixtapes have they created and if they have a mixtape career at all. A lot of the labels have survived from mixtapes, therefore they should have reached out and said, “Nah, we’re giving them permission to use these records and use these beats on these mixtapes.”
A lot of times, mixtapes are made with mostly original music, like mine. For the most part, it’s all original music making it almost a free album. Mixtapes are strong. We have our own mixtape award show, Rest In Peace to the pioneer Justo. I just think that the powers that be should have been a little more supportive. Shout out to DJ Drama and Don Cannon and everybody who was affected by that situation and stayed strong. Shout out to all of them and everybody that’s continuing to make music regardless.
On the flipside, there’s no good without the bad. As much as mixtapes mean to hip-hop, you do have everybody and their mother dropping a mixtape now. It’s not easy if you do it the right way, but it does look easy to put one out. It seems like all you have to do is record some shit, find someone on MySpace that does graphics, take a few pictures with your camera phone and you’re done. If you’re doing mixtapes like that, be prepared to go as far as around your block. But if you record some DOPE music, get your marketing correct and a plan behind the project, then you could be all right. People see what happened with Dipset, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Paul Wall and Chamillionaire. They all succeeded through mixtapes by executing their plans the right way. A lot of people say, “Hey, I can copycat that and blow.” That’s not always the case. The talent has to be there, point blank, period. You have to know the history of the game. You have to have a sense of respect for the role of the DJ, being that they are the ones who created the genre of mixtapes.
That’s why I wanted to do it with two big DJs, DJ Kay Slay and Mick Boogie. Kay Slay is the biggest mixtape DJ on the streets and Mick Boogie is the biggest DJ in the corporate world and on the internet. It’s about doing the music the right way and it’s about making the best music possible. I figured that with them, I could corner all markets. No one’s ever taken two DJs from different worlds and put them together. I decided to do that and it worked out great. I appreciate Mick Boogie and Kay Slay for coming through and everyone else who was a part of the project and helped to make it what it is.
But look up the history of the mixtape. Look up Ron G, Doo Wop, S-N-S, Tony Touch and all of these incredible DJs who put their stamp on the mixtape game hard. Know where the mixtapes have been and know where they’re going. Support the mixtape game. Shout out to my dude Torae, who got his tape dropping on August 20 and my man Stimuli, who also got his dropping soon as well, and shout out to Mickey Factz, AC, and Big Remo and Big Treal, who all have new tapes available now. They’re definitely doing it up the right way with this mixtape game.
My mixtape is available for free. It’s on my MySpace page and on HipHopGame. The tape is 100% FREE. The tape is out now, so make sure you get your copy. I’ve already started planning the next mixtape and mapping it out, but it will be a long time before it’s even recorded. It will probably be late 2007 or early 2008 until the next one comes out because this one is doing so well and we’re trying to push it as far as possible. But you know I can’t stay out of the booth. There's always going to be new music up on HipHopGame and on my MySpace page and you never know what might happen. I might bump that date up on my next mixtape, but I’ve already started brainstorming for it. As for right now it’s all about Corner Store Classic. Look for coverage on it in the newest issues of your favorite magazines as well as on BET’s Rap City (it was the Mixtape Pick of the Week on July 30). Corner Store Classic is kicking in a lot of doors the same way Cloud 9 did for me last summer. Next week, I’ll be back to give you another look into my world and another topic in our hip-hop culture and how I feel about it.
This week’s iTunes Pick of the Week is Kelly Clarkson’s “Be Still” from her album My December. Before you look at the screen and think you read it wrong, you didn’t. Trust me, that song is beautiful. It’s CRAZY! Like I said before, my iTunes Pick of the Week is probably not going to be a hip-hop record. Once in awhile, I might throw something in there, but most of the time, it’s not going to be a hip-hop record. So get used to it. Haha.
Alright ya’ll, we’ll kick it next week. And as always, they call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O.
Skyzoo’s long-awaited mixtape is finally here, and free! Featuring production from DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, Black Milk, J.Dilla, Madlib, Pete Rock, Ron Browz, Illmind and more as well as appearances from Torae, Sean Price, Maino, Stimuli, Nina B and more, this mixtape promises to bang for a long time.
Corner Store Classic – The Mixtape, Hosted by DJ Kay Slay and Mick Boogie
2) Ride Out (Prod. by Ron Browz)
3) The Paper (Prod. by Illmind)
4) Get It Done feat. Torae (Prod. by DJ Premier)
5) Hold Tight (Prod. by Black Milk)
6) Cop-N-Go feat. Maino and Stimuli (Prod. by 9th Wonder)
7) Straighten It Out (Prod. by Pete Rock)
8) Close Reach feat. Nina B (Prod. by Madlib)
9) Like A Shotgun (Prod. by Wajeed)
10) Play Your Position feat. Guilty Simpson (Prod. by Black Milk)
11) All Over The World (Prod. by M-Phazes)
12) Bragging Rights (Prod. by Khrysis)
13) You Already Know (Remix) feat. Sean Price (Prod. by 9th Wonder)
14) Click feat. Torae (Prod. by DJ Premier)
15) Ghetto America (Prod. by Hi-Tek)
16) The Bodega (Prod. by 9th Wonder)
17) Never Sleep (Prod. by Illmind)
18) They Don’t Want It feat. Torae, Yetta Barz and Zeqway (Prod. by J.Dilla)
19) My Element (Prod. by T-Ray)
Whaddup, HipHopGame? As usual, it’s your man Skyzoo, coming to you live from the 718, still doing what I do and giving you another piece into my world and what’s going on with me and things going on around me.
This week, before we get started, I want to say, as always, thank you a million times for your support. Every week it may sound repetitive, but it’s a good thing that I am sounding repetitive with the appreciation because if I didn’t, it would mean that I was getting too big-headed for y’all. So in this repetitive tone, let me just say that I appreciate every last one of y’all that read this journal every week, go to my MySpace page, order my music online and load up your iPod with my joints. That means the world to me. I appreciate y’all coming back once again, wanting to know what’s going on in my world.
Before we get into the topic this week, I have to get into something else. Everybody and their mother has been hitting me about the Corner Store Classic and I appreciate that too. So, the official release date of The Corner Store Classic is…July 20! It shouldn’t be pushed back anymore. That’s the date that everything should be coming out. It’ll be available on HipHopGame with a downloadable link as well as on my MySpace page. I’m having a release party for it on July 20 in New York. You can check out the flyer for that on my page for the info. But July 20 is the official release date for The Corner Store Classic! A lot of people have been asking me about it, so there you go. Mark it in your calendars, your Blackberry, your Sidekick, on a sticky note in front of your mirror or wherever you have to put it. Don’t forget it. July 20!
That being said, I want to get into a topic this week that affects anybody that’s a lover of hip-hop or if they’re involved in hip-hop, whether it’s for the money or love, or whether they’re new to it or old to it, it affects everyone; getting radio play. I want to get into a discussion of radio and how it helps and hurts hip-hop.
As we all know, we control radio to a certain extent. When I say “we,” I mean it from a fan’s standpoint. A lot of people say that real hip-hop isn’t on the radio, and I agree with SOME parts of that. There are program directors who say that they only give the people what they want to hear. The flipside to that is that if you only offer people one thing, what else is there that they’re going to want? If you only offer people bread and butter, that’s all they’re going to take because that’s all they know that exists. They’re not going to want chicken and rice or steak and potatoes. All they’re going to request is what they know is out there. It’s a catch 22. I think there are a lot of other outlets nowadays, like Sirius Satellite Radio, XM Radio and college radio. The list goes on. A lot of artists today have the alternative of benefiting from that, including myself.
I got my real first play through there. I know a lot of DJs at the satellite radio stations that show love and support and really break records. Before satellite though, if you couldn’t make it big on your local radio station, it was a wrap. Now you can be big anywhere in the world and generate a fanbase due to satellite radio. People are looking beyond their local radio stations.
And that’s not to knock the local radio stations because I love and appreciate them for what they go through to supply music to the masses. The truth of it all is that radio is a tricky game. You have the politics and the under-the-table deals going down with some DJs. Some DJs admit to it, some DJs deny it and some DJs just play it fair and abide by the rules. Beyond the DJ and alleged underhand stuff, you have the labels that are paying the radio stations for their time. They’re paying for a certain amount of hours and records from those labels have to be played during those hours. Whether it’s Atlantic, Def Jam, Sony or whatever the label may be, that’s the way it works out. It’s the same thing with commercials. If XYZ Records, for instance, pays for 30 hours a week for slot time, then the top 10 artists from that label will have their singles played repeatedly to fill up that amount of time that the labeled paid for. It’s all legal. You have to be aware of that. A lot of radio stations aren’t left with much room to do otherwise. It’s not a dirty secret or a scam. It’s a harsh reality. You have to be aware that labels are paying for their time slots, but as an artist or fan you have to find other ways around it like with Sirius or XM.
Another thing that’s messing it up is that there are a ton of DJs that have their own artists. Don’t get me wrong, any way that an artist can get help in 2007 is a great thing because it’s getting harder and harder for artists to break through every day. But you have some DJs that sign artists from their neighborhood or their sister’s boyfriend or whatever and their records suck while more deserving artists don’t get that chance. That’s not a shot at anybody in any way so please don’t take it personally. It’s just how hip-hop radio in 2007 is. There’s no good without the bad and no right without the wrong. It’s a good thing that certain DJs have artists and some of them have done a great job with that, like Kay Slay with Papoose, Clue with Fab and Green Lantern with Uncle Murder. They’re giving artists the light that they may not have been able to get without them. But you have other DJs that don’t have talented artists and the result is, well, you can figure that out. Just turn on the radio.
Again, this isn’t a shot at anyone in particular. I have a lot of love for DJs and I rock with a lot of DJs and they show me support. But you have to know the ins and outs of these things. Listening to the radio over this past holiday weekend, it was cool. It had its moments. You heard some great records but then you heard the same records you hear on any given Sunday. You hear the top 10 artists or records in the country that you’ve been hearing all weekend. Why would you hear those on mixmaster sets? Hey, I’m not a DJ, so maybe I don’t understand it.
But radio is a tricky game. Radio is easily the hardest game to crack. You can crack the mixtape game. You can crack the internet game. You can crack all these different games as far as hip-hop is concerned, but you have artists that have albums out and have been all over the world and they still haven’t been on the radio yet. And it’s hard to stay there once you crack it. You just have to use it and not sell yourself out. But there’s loopholes in everything, whether you’re taking a test or developing your jump shot or trying to get radio play. You have to find the loopholes and just crack the game. Radio is an incredibly difficult thing to crack, but radio is something that will never go away, whether it’s on the internet or on your alarm clock. As long as there’s radio, there’s always something else to work towards and another avenue to crack. You want people to hear your music and you NEED people to hear your music. Radio is always going to be around and you just need to learn how to use it.
This topic was inspired by mixmaster weekends and all the DJs that were playing records everywhere in the US and Europe and everywhere else, so shout out to all y’all. Special shout out to my man Peter Rosenberg at Hot 97, a perfect example of balancing mainstream radio.
Like I said earlier, July 20 is the official release date for Corner Store Classic. Put it in your notebook or calendar wherever you need to put it. You can get it right here on HipHopGame with the downloadable link or on my MySpace page. However you have to get it, you can get it. It will be out there for all of y’all.
And a new thing I’m going to start this week is called the iTunes Pick of the Week. Every week I’m going to end the journal entry with a song you should go check out on iTunes. And nine times out of ten, it’s NOT going to be a hip-hop record. I want to throw in dope music and something different. Once in awhile, it may be a hip-hop record, but that’ll be rare. So the iTunes Pick of the Week is John Coltrane’s “Acknowledgement” off his album A Love Supreme. It’s easily, in my opinion, one of the greatest songs ever created on one of the greatest albums in the history of music. That’s the iTunes Pick of the Week. Feel free to get at me about this week’s iTunes pick in the comments section or on my MySpace page.
Next week I’ll have another topic to touch on and give you another look into what’s going on in my world and in my career. And as always, they call me S-K-Y, Z-O-O.
One two, one two, whaddup, HipHopGame? Once again, we’re back at it, live from the 718 as always. I appreciate everyone who comments on the journals and goes to my MySpace page and is wondering what’s going on with me, just like we said last week with Fan Appreciation Week.
This past week I’ve been running around a lot. I went to Boston for the first time, where I was the headliner. I’m kind of getting used to this headliner thing. It’s kind of fly. I performed at a spot called Great Scott and a lot of people came out, showed love and supported. It was a real good look. I really like Boston. I had never been there before, but the town is crazy, the scenery is dope, the crowd participation was dope and the women are definitely the righteous way to go.
There were a few artists named Chris Phenom and Skipp Whitman who were the opening acts. They were out there doing their thing. Their show was real tight. Afterwards, as always, they were selling their music. That leads me into what I’m going to talk about this week, the independent aspect of the game. The independent world is really taking over, per se, as far as hip-hop is concerned. This week I wanted to get into my take on the newest argument in hip hop - indies versus majors.
I see kids grinding at shows and selling music out of their trunk like I did and still do. It’s good to see that. If these labels don’t start waking up, then we’ll just do it on our own anyway. Look at 50 Cent. He was signed to Columbia, he got dropped and they said he wasn’t going to go anywhere. Now he’s running hip-hop and he has a ton of different investments, from music to movies to water! It’s all about doing things on your own time and on your own terms and putting destiny in your own hands.
I think when 50 got signed in 2002, it shook things up more. Now you see more dudes doing mixtapes and putting out albums independently, like my album Cloud 9 with 9th Wonder. That’s a perfect example. I always say in interviews that I did that for myself and I started promoting it and then the indies started hollering. What it did for me is it built an audience and a fanbase for me. The labels aren’t really on it like that. If the major labels aren’t really on it, the indie thing is always there.
The newest issues of XXL and Scratch magazines (I happen to be in both of those by the way, haha) have articles about the independents versus the majors. It’s just good to know that there are alternatives for both. Sometimes you have to force someone’s hand if you feel that strongly about what you’re doing and what you’re into. The indie way is a good way to force a major’s hand. Look at Joell Ortiz. He's signed to one of the biggest labels in the game with the biggest producer in the game behind them. He put out The Brick on Koch and he’s forcing Aftermath’s hand. He is already building his fanbase and his buzz. Once his indie project calms down, his fanbase will already be there and the ‘Scope will have to put his project out. That was an incredibly smart move on Joell’s part.
As we all know, the majors are slashing their budgets and they’re not giving out deals the way they used to. You have Prodigy, KRS-One and Ghostface and MF Doom going independent while they still have major label deals. I’m not saying to stay away from the majors, because I’m aiming for a major myself, but if you can use an indie label to build yourself up, then why not do it? With an indie, you’re not going to get the marketing dollars, the promotion, the million-dollar video and all of that, but you can figure out a way to do it on your own. You can still do the best with what you got. That’s where your other options come in. On the flip side though, if you sign to a major who can give you the marketing dollars and the promo and the million dollar videos, that’s a beautiful thing. BUT if your buzz isn’t where it should be, you can get shelved and wind up sitting on the waiting list at a major. You can get bumped by the guy who keeps the lights on in the building.
Neither option is 100% positive or 100% negative. If you can play with both and do both freely, then you can’t lose. I did the indie thing and now we’re (my team and I) looking at some major situations. We’re trying to get some things popping. It’s just a gradual progression. For everybody reading this and all the artists out there, sometimes an indie might be the way to go to get that buzz going. I did the one-off with Traffic and now I have you reading my journal on HipHopGame and checking my MySpace page for new music and shows, so it was definitely a smart move for me. Whenever I see kids doing their thing independently, it shows that the music will never die at the expense of anyone’s hands because there will always be someone who loves the music and does it on their own. The game has changed drastically over the last five years, even more so in the last two. You have to really plan out how you’re going to do this. If you’re really trying to make this where your music can get out everywhere, then you definitely have to go to a major, but you can definitely set yourself up through an indie at first like 50 Cent, Chamillionaire, NWA, No Limit, myself and countless others have done.
Don’t be scared to do the indie thing and don’t be scared to do the major thing either. Set yourself up strategically. Put your pieces in place, get your wheels rolling and ride out. I’m definitely on that road to success and hopefully I’ll see you on that same road.
As always, we’ll have another topic next week as well as another look into my world. So for now, you already know; they call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O!
haddup, world? Whaddup, HipHopGame? Once again live from the 718 it’s your man Skyzoo. I just want to say “thank you” to everybody that’s been holding me down with the journals this whole time, everybody who’s been hitting me on the MySpace, listening to the songs and coming to my shows. It’s real when people quote what I say in here and it shows that they’re reading and listening. I appreciate everybody who checks out my views on this hip-hop culture and what’s going on in my life. Good looking out on that.
I know everybody can leave me comments but no one is obligated to. So I thank everyone who does and I appreciate it from the bottom up. Getting into that, I know everybody has their own opinions and you are all entitled to them with no problem, but this one kid, I don’t know his name, but this one kid said must’ve gotten upset at some of my views in the last journal I wrote and stated a few things about me, including that I needed to “learn to appreciate the fans I have”. It didn’t get me upset, but it rubbed me the wrong way a little bit. Reason being, simply because I ALWAYS try to let my fans know what they mean to me and my movement. When I go into the booth, I make music for the fans as well as myself. 50 Cent said it best when he stated that “if you’re just making music for yourself, you might as well keep it in your headphones in the basement”. I make records for myself and to talk about what I’m going through, but I also make it for the fans to relate to and appreciate. So when the kid made his comments, it made me want to address this subject to all of you who read these journals every week. He said that groups like USDA and songs like my single “The Paper” are bad for hip-hop and that there’s a lot of songs about money out there. Who’s to say what’s good for hip-hop and who’s to say what’s bad? Are you or me the president or god of hip-hop?
How many records are there about money? A lot. But how many records are there about hip-hop supposedly being “dead”? How many records are there about how the ‘hood is broke down? How many songs are there about black power? Probably more than there are about money. No idea’s original, there’s nothing new under the sun. There’s been all types of songs made about topics that aren’t going to be original. It’s all about each person’s take on it. Now that doesn’t mean I want to make or hear an album of 16 tracks about money, nor do I want to make or hear 16 songs about what’s “real hip-hop”. It’s all about versatility, variety and growth. This isn’t a bash on that kid in anyway so please don’t take it in that nature. I’m not going to come down on that fan because I respect his and everyone’s opinions either way. If you take the time out to read on me or write about me or speak on me it’s appreciated, be it positive or negative. It’s all good to me. He threatened to leave the “Skyzoo Fan Club”. Hmmm, when I talked about the Skyzoo Fan Club, I wasn’t threatening anybody. I was just making a point. Again, this isn’t me versus some anonymous kid who in all actually is a fan because he said he’d leave the club, so that means he was once in it. To that kid, if you’re reading, I appreciate your support through any and all of the stages of my career that you’ve been there to support me in. I probably appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. Hopefully when Corner Store Classic drops there will be some jams on there that you fall in love with. That goes out to all of my fans, whether they’ve been listening since my 2001 college days or they just became aware of my music yesterday, I value all of you the same.
What I do want to generally state though, is that sometimes fans take shit too far. Modern day technology (hip-hop sites, MySpace, blogs, chat rooms, etc.) has become the best thing to happen to the game in numerous ways. But nothing good comes without bad, and so with these new waves of communication come cons to balance the pros. These sites and blogs are all anonymous, meaning people can say whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want. So from that comes people (mostly kids) who speak, or should I say type, recklessly. As artists, we all should respect the fans and value and cherish them for being who they are. I know that I do my part to the best of my ability. But on the flipside, the fans have to show that respect back. When I see things that people write about music (whether it’s mine or any other artist’s records), it’s outlandish at times.
Not liking a record is one thing. No problem. Not liking an artist as a whole is cool too. No problem. But talking slick on the net about a song you don’t like and turning that into cursing an artist out and stating that that artist is a “fa**ot” or a bi**h and that they can “suck your d**k” is unacceptable, and borderline homo if you ask me. There’s a thin line between not liking an artist’s music and disrespecting that artist for no reason, and the fans need to not cross that line. Point blank.
So this week, I want to stress fan appreciation. I’m trying to gain one new fan a day like NORE said. So to all of my fans out there, I love and appreciate every one of you. All of y’all who bought Cloud 9 and downloaded any of my songs and read my interviews and read this journal. You are all the driving force with my music. Between ya’ll and the block, I’ve got enough inspiration for a decade. Everybody knows that if you holla at me on the Space or come to my shows, I try to give back tons of love.
Speaking of shows, I threw a show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn last week at a dope spot called Galapagos. Brooklyn is my hometown and my heart, so it always feels good to do shows there. Amanda Diva wanted to do a show with me and she said that if I could put something together, we could pull it off. So I lined up my peoples Torae, Stimuli and Nina B. It was packed out before the show even started. Amada Diva set it off, Torae went next, then Stimuli went, Nina B followed, and I closed it out. My man DJ Premier came through to support the show as a whole and that’s always a good look. That was definitely a highlight for the night.
I also premiered the new song “Click,” which is another banger with me, Torae and DJ Premier on the beat, again! No one had every heard the song before so we decided to give the people a little treat. The next day Primo played the whole song on his radio show. I started getting emails on how it was on the ‘net and how it was on all various sites ripped it from his show. To all the DJs reading this, I can’t send it out yet. Sorry. I can’t send the DJs the official joint yet, but the minute that I’m able to, I will get it out to you. Me and Torae are blessed to have another record with the legendary Preem. I’ve done two records with DJ Premier with NO MAJOR LABEL DEAL! I’ve recorded in Headquarters twice. That’s a blessing that a lot of people with plaques on their walls can’t say they have. “Click” is a crazy street joint. Lyrics and drums, strictly. It’s off the wall and it’s going to be out there real soon. It’s going to be in stores on 12” vinyl so get ready. It’s only right. I’m all about putting dope music out. Just because I make a mainstream banger like “The Paper,” it doesn’t mean I can’t get busy on anything else. I never go too far left, I never go too far right and nothing I do is a reach. I make banging music. Whether it be mainstream, “underground,” or commercial, I make banging music and hope y’all appreciate it for what it’s worth, period end.
Next week, who knows what we’re going to get into, but everyday something new happens in hip-hop. I’m going to let you know what’s up with me and my career as well as my views on the game. And as always, they call me, S, K-Y, Z-O-O!
Whaddup, HipHopGame? What’s going on? Once again, I’m back at it, reporting live from the 718 and giving you another journal entry. Another week is under the belt and I’m happy to be here making my music.
I appreciate all the love people are sending me on the MySpace about the mixtape and all the people looking out. It was another week full of radio interviews and promotion and more. It’s the life I lead so I’m used to it. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I want to shout out everybody who’s been showing me love on “The Paper” produced by Illmind. I’ve been getting a lot of love from it. There are a few people trying to put me in a box and whatnot but I’m not that backpack dude some of you may have mistaken me for. I don’t put myself in a box of any sorts, and you’re going to hear more records like “The Paper” so get used to it. If you like what I’m doing, stick around. If you don’t like “The Paper” and the direction I’m going, then you can leave the Skyzoo Fan Club now. I make what the beats tell me to make and I’m growing in the direction that I’m choosing to.
The funny thing is that beat was for a huge artist that Illmind is working with but I wound up getting it instead. That beat was supposed to be on one of the biggest albums in the last five years. You can say what you want about that beat but it’s incredible. I’m going to continue to make the records I want to make and I’m going to continue to do my thing. If you don’t like “The Paper” and you don’t think you’re going to like the direction I’ll be going in, then like I said before, you can leave the Skyzoo Fan Club now. If you don’t like the record but you know what my other records are and you like them, that’s cool. You’re not going to like every single record I make the same way I don’t like every song my favorite rappers make.
But I don’t want to make it seem like all it got was hate. There was like 95% positive feedback and the love I’ve been getting on the song has been unbelievable. I appreciate everybody who’s commented on it and added it to their pages. This is only the start. This is really the single I’m pushing but I have at least five other records that are coming out as singles. It’s 2007. We’re getting ready to do it!
Last night I went to the USDA listening session. Their album is incredible. Heads were nodding like crazy in there. The beats alone are silly. They’re bonkers. They have some serious records on there. They have a track called “Corporate Thuggin’” and that’s the best I’ve ever heard Jeezy spit. Make sure you go cop that album on May 22. It just goes to show you that hip-hop is not dead. It was a real dope party. Jeezy, Slick Pulla, and Blood Raw hosted the event, and Fabolous, Bleu Davinci, Paul Cain, Jay-Z and LA Reid all came through. It was a real good look and that USDA album is hardbody.
I want to talk more about the South. A lot of people have been talking about the South and the South has been in control for the last couple of years now. Some people say that it’s not real hip-hop because they have a twang on their speech and whatnot. What I respect about the South is that they never compromised themselves when New York or LA was running things. You never saw UGK or Scarface or Devin the Dude making New York or LA records. They made southern records regardless, even if no one was checking for them. They were still making the records that they wanted to make regardless of who was the biggest artist at the moment. They didn’t care about what was popular at the time. They did what they wanted to do. They were making chopped and screwed music before we even knew what it was. It’s not new down there. They’ve been doing that forever.
I think that’s one of the things I like the most about the South – that they never compromised themselves. Now you have artists making records sounding like the South when they’re not from the South and you didn’t see southern artists doing that back then. They stuck to their culture and they made people adapt and turn to them and they turned into fans. I respect that about the South. I think the South makes some of the best music out right now. A lot of people think they’re not lyrical but Lil’ Wayne and T.I. are killing it. Trap Muzik is one of my favorite hip-hop albums ever. I could listen to that album every day of the week. I love Bun-B and Scarface. Then you have Devin the Dude, who’s a beast! I haven’t heard too many Devin records that I didn’t like. If you don’t have any of his records, you need to check him out. David Banner goes in and gets busy. There’s Outkast. Andre 3000 is unexplainable. You don’t even have to talk on that. There are tons of dudes from down bottom that get busy.
Now that the light is on them, people want to throw shots and talk about “taking it back.” It’s not about taking it back. Put it like this: if somebody sees your block doing well, they want to go take it over. What’s the other block going to do? They’re going to strap up and protect themselves. So in essence, it causes friction. I don’t think it’s good for artists to say, “We’re going to take it back.” Take back what? We should be working together. If I was from the South, I would be strapping up when I hear people talk like that. Not in a literal sense, but more so on a level of “we gotta do whatever it takes to make sure that these other regions don’t get it back.” Get the point? I think there’s enough light for all of us to share. New York is definitely going to get its turn again and so is the West.
I think the Midwest is next because they’ve never had the spotlight on them too-too heavy. Kanye and Common and Twista along with Dilla and Slum Village have done their thing, but if the Midwest is next up, I’m not mad at that. They have some of the best producers from Black Milk to Denaun Porter and some of the best emcees from Guilty Simpson to Lupe Fiasco. It doesn’t mean there’s not enough room for everyone else. I don’t care if Alaska is running it next year, I’m going to still do my thing, regardless! The South is doing it right now, but I do think there should be more of a balance. I think you should be able to turn on the radio and hear a little bit of the North, South, West and Midwest. We need to kill all that noise about how the South doesn’t go in and that they’re not lyrical. They do their thing and it’s not going to stop what I’m doing. There’s enough people out there making dope music. Stop hating on the South.
What’s also funny is that now you have fans in the South trying to hate on the North because they don’t want to see their region go. That comes from what I stated earlier, people saying, “We’re going to take it back. We’re going to take it back.” They’re getting ready to protect what’s theirs. From a fan’s perspective, the South has to show love to the North and vice versa. So once again, that USDA album is crazy. It’s bananas. I didn’t hear a record I didn’t like. The South is definitely doing their thing.
I don’t know what region is next, but I do know what individual is next – ME! I’m going to do what I do and I’m going to make the music I want to make to crack through. If I hear a southern beat I like, I’m still going to put my New York swag on it. It’s not going to be me reaching or trying to be southern. It’s going to be me doing it because I’m going to sound good on it. That’s where I’m going to leave it at for now. Next week I’ll have another topic for you. As always, they call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O!
Once again, I’m back at it. Whaddup, HipHopGame? What’s going on? I’m still live from the 718, doing what I do. I’m giving you another look into my world and keeping it going. Just to let the world know, the mixtape is completely done. Corner Store Classic is 100% finished. I finished it Sunday night in the studio. Now we’re going into the mixing stage and getting the DJ-hosting situated. The tape is officially done. I’ve recorded everything I’m going to record for it unless I miraculously get a Just Blaze beat or something like that. Other than that, it’s done! I’m happy that it’s going to be getting out soon. Now that it’s done, give me another three weeks to get it all together. It’s a process. Me and my engineer, DJ Nyce, are putting the finishing touches on it. Now it’s on. It is definitely on.
That was good to get off my chest. I wanted to get that out there for all y’all readers. I haven’t leaked out any new music in awhile. I might leak some new music a day or two before the tape drops. The new single with Illmind is coming out real soon. We’re just setting up how we want to execute it. We’ll put that out on full blast.
I did leak a Gucci Mane remix-freestyle verse to “Pills.” I did it for fun. A lot of people may hate on it and not like Gucci Mane, but at the end of the day, a dope record is a dope record. It’s funny because the journal I did last week about bringing the underground and the commercial together, that’s a reason why I did it. I also did it because I wanted to see how people would react to it on the ‘net. Sad to say, a lot of people reacted how I thought they would. A lot of people tried to downplay it and bash it. I wanted to be wrong on that. I wanted all of you to prove me wrong. I wanted you to say, “Sky did a Gucci Mane song and played around with it and made a dope record.”
Truth be told, that Gucci Mane record is huge in the South. Just because we’re up here in the North or it may not be popping on your radio yet, it’s only a matter of time. That record is huge in Atlanta. It’s a monster in the clubs. I was really hoping that people would prove me wrong and say it was cool. I don’t have a problem with people not liking my records. You’re not going to like everything I do and I don’t like everything my favorite rappers do. But you stay a fan even when you don’t like something. That’s what separates the real fans. When you start hating just because you read the title of it before you even listen to it, then that’s when it’s a different situation. That’s when you’re biased. I wanted to be proven wrong on it, but I wasn’t. But it’s not a big deal. That was just something to throw out there.
But Corner Store Classic is done, with production from 9th Wonder, Khrysis, Ron Browz, DJ Premier, Illmind and Black Milk. There are a few others but I want to keep it a surprise for now.
That leads me into my next topic – producers and the whole role that the producer plays in today’s game. We all know that sales are down and that digital sales are running everything, but the one thing that is still all good is the production. The beat still has to knock when you go into a label. The producer’s role is becoming more and more current and it means more nowadays than it ever did. It was always a huge factor in hip-hop, but nowadays, the producer aspect of the game has taken over. I believe producers should be stars in their own right as long as they keep the music dope.
You know that J.Dilla is the greatest in my eyes. There will never be anyone better than him, point blank period. There are a lot of other great ones and you may say someone else is better, but Dilla was the man.
I think that up-and-coming producers should get a lot of leeway and ground to really do their thing. Sha Money XL is creating avenues with his One Stop Producer Conference. You have him opening up doors where you don’t have to be a huge producer to get on 50’s album or Banks’ and Yayo’s albums. I think that’s a beautiful thing. We need more opportunities for producers because they still don’t have enough space yet. It’s hard for an up-and-coming producer to get their name out there. A rapper can do a mixtape and pop off a buzz, but a producer has to give out free beats for a year or two just to possibly get noticed. At the end of the day though, there’s definitely more money for producers in beats and publishing.
There’s also segregation with the producers too. There’s kids who think that if it’s not boom-bap like Primo or Pete Rock, then it’s not hip-hop. Make no mistake, they’re in the upper echelon, no doubt, but there are other producers like Just Blaze, Will.I.Am, Kanye and Jellyroll who are serious with it too. You have the Heatmakerz and Black Milk and Illmind and 9th and Khrysis. There shouldn’t be any segregation because good music is good music. Just because it’s not a certain producer’s beat or sound, it doesn’t mean that it’s not hip-hop. Good beats are good beats and wack beats are wack beats.
Up-and-coming producers, stay on your grind. Send me beats. I take beats from everybody. I’ll take beats from your grandma if it’s hot. Tell her to send me a tape. You don’t have to have a name because everyone with a name didn’t always have a big name. No one started out with a big name, no matter who they are. If you want to send me beats, go to my MySpace and there’s a blog I put up there about producers wanting to send me beats. You can hit me with beats there if you want to.
There’s one thing I have to tell you though – don’t send me 9th Wonder beats. There are people who are hyped to send me beats and I’m excited to hear what they’re sending, but DO NOT send me beats that sound like 9th Wonder. I’ll call 9th for that. That’s my homie. His number is in my cell phone. Don’t send me beats that sound like people I already rock with. Send me beats that sound like you. I don’t want every beat that I rock on to be boom-bap and sped-up soul. I’m not looking for that every day when I go in the studio. I look for different sounds. A 9th beat can be just as exciting as a Timbaland beat and a Pharrell beat can be just as exciting as a Black Milk beat. I take everyone seriously and I’m still on my way up. I’m far from superstar status but I’m approaching it. I’m on my way and I’m blessed to be on my way, but I’m not there yet. I take everyone seriously who hits me on MySpace and I listen to all the beats. But I can’t stress this enough – do not send me beats that sound like 9th. Maybe if I didn’t know 9th, I would consider those beats.
But keep your grind up and keep your money up and keep the hip-hop real. That doesn’t mean it has to be boom-bap. It can be the most poppy-sounding music in the world, but as long as it’s real and sounds dope to you, then it’s real hip-hop. Keep it authentic to you. With that being said, I’ll holler at y’all next week. They call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O!
haddup, HipHopGame? What’s good? First off, shout outs to everyone who read the first journal and commented on it. I really appreciate that. That was just the introduction. Every week, we’re going to get crazier and crazier into it. I’m going to give you a look into my world and also my views on certain things going on in the game.
This past week I flew out to Atlanta. Atlanta is like one of my other homes outside of New York. I have family in Atlanta and I’m in North Carolina a lot and I’m going to be in Detroit a lot. I came down to Atlanta to do a show and I was the headliner. That’s the first time I’ve been a headliner. I’ve done a lot of big shows with artists from G-Unit and Sean Price, but I’ve never headlined. Being that it was in Atlanta made it even more special for me because it’s a whole different crowd and a whole different fanbase. This shows you my range. I definitely had heads checking for me out there. That was real special to me.
Me and my team got down here last Friday afternoon and chilled out. We saw the town and went to Five Points, which is kind of like the Village in New York. They have a lot of small shops and boutiques. We went to four different record stores and they all had the show posters up with my picture on it and they had the Cloud 9 in stores. I did a couple walk-throughs in the stores and it was a cool way to start it off. It’s crazy about the show and the way they had it. There were two clubs separated by a wall. I had a lot of people on my side. Apparently the DJ on the other side of the club was cool with 9th. I heard that 9th was coming so I called him up and we met up in the middle of the club. When I told him I was performing in a couple of minutes, he said he’s jump on stage with me. I did half my set, brought 9th on and everyone went crazy because no one expected him to be there. That was a great look for me. I told him I owe him my life for everything he’s done. He’s opened so many doors for me.
The best thing about the show, I would say, is that the whole crowd knew all of the songs word-for-word. That means they’re really online checking for me and they’re listening to the music. That was real fly. That meant a lot to me.
The next day, my other family was down here. Black Milk was down here for his show. We went to his show at The Loft. He was performing and we kicked it with him. 9th was spinning at that spot and the crowd was going crazy when he spun my records. Then he shouted out that I was in the venue and everyone started looking for me to get autographs. It feels good to get that love. I know some people don’t want to approach me because they don’t want to look like a groupie, but it’s never like that with me. I’m a fan of other people just as much so it’s never no sucker shit with me. Fans should never feel funny about approaching artists, especially me. That love keeps us motivated to create more music, so it’s all good. Love is love and I appreciate that and I recognize that. That was the Atlanta weekend and it was real fun. Kenn Starr, Supastition and Oddisee were all there. It was good to meet certain people for the first time.
The one question I kept getting from everybody was, “When is Corner Store Classic coming out?” It’s going down. We’re wrapping it up. The single with Illmind should be dropping soon too. I think what both the single and the mixtape are going to do is bridge the gaps.
One thing I’d like to get into here is the whole underground/overground thing. People always try to figure out who Skyzoo is and what crowd I fit into. I don’t consider myself to be an underground dude per say. I don’t walk around with a Jansport on and I know what they term represents, but I don’t really consider myself like that. I don’t even really like the term “backpacker” like that. At the same time, I may not make the type of music that’s popular at the moment. I just make the music that I want to make.
My goal is to eventually be a big, mainstream artist. I want to be like a Jay or a Nas with the celebrity status and all that. I’m really not a backpacker. At the end of the day, when I’m driving around, I’m inspired by a lot of things. I can listen to 50 Cent, Kanye, Juelz and Mos Def and get something out of all of them. It’s bad when you say, “He’s over there and we’re over here. We’re ‘mainstream’ and they’re doing ‘conscious, backpack hip-hop.’” I think people may think I’m underground because of my affiliation with Little Brother and 9th Wonder. I wouldn’t change that for a second because they opened up doors for me when they let me rock with them. They gave me shots that others didn’t and for that, I’m forever indebted to them. I wouldn’t change any of that at all, but I was never a “backpacker,” whatever that term means. My goal has always been the mainstream.
There’s a whole different caliber of MC that comes from Brooklyn and I’m one of them. I’m just me and I make the music that I want to make. I may make a record one day that you could hear Mos Def on and then I can make another record that you could hear Santana and Uncle Murder on. But I’m never going to compromise who I am on a record. The beat inspires me to write what I write.
The thing is, you used to see artists with all different types of sounds on stage together. Ice-T, Too Short, NWA and De La Soul could all be together at one show. Imagine if you had a show with Little Brother, Jim Jones, Rich Boy and Bishop Lamont all on one stage. Unfortunately hip-hop isn’t like that right now. That’s one of the main things holding us back from being what we really could be. The people who are buying a Yung Joc CD aren’t buying a Little Brother CD. I think that’s corny. Dope music is dope music.
What made me bring that up is the Black Milk show the other night. He makes the type of music he makes and he was able to attract a diverse crowd. I feel like it’s the same thing with me, the Clipse and a lot of other artists out there. It’s all about bridging that gap. That’s not my goal every day when I sit down to write records. I write in the moment. But at the end of the day, blending those two worlds together is dope and I think doing that is huge.
Recently there was the Paid Dues tour with Jean Grae and Murs. I saw pictures online of how big that concert was. It was huge. It was like an arena almost and it was nothing but underground artists like Brother Ali and Dilated Peoples. You can really bring out a lot of people with that crowd, but imagine if Young Jeezy and the Clipse were on stage with those other artists. It would be crazy. It’s kind of corny that it’s not like that anymore. At the end of the day, that’s what I’m here to do. If the worlds collide in a good way, they do. If they collide in a bad way, they do. I’m here to do what I do.
The only reason I’m an “underground” rapper is because I’m not nationally-known yet. Please believe I would have bodied some of Rich Boy’s beats. I wouldn’t have turned them down because they aren’t boom-bap or whatever. It’s all good hip-hop. I think that we have to get over that underground/overground hump as far as the two worlds being separate. It gets confusing. It’s all about dope music. If you want to make a record about saving the world and saving hip-hop, why not? If you want to make a record about popping bottles and making it rain, why not? It’s all dope hip-hop. At the end of the day, Lil’ Wayne is just as dope as Little Brother. Why push the worlds apart when they should be brought together?
That’s all for now. I’ll have more for you next week. And as always, they call me S, K-Y, Z-O-O!
hat up, world? What up, HipHopGame readers? Live from the 718, it’s your man Skyzoo. I’m definitely excited about having my own journal and I think it’s a good thing. I was reading why MySpace and YouTube are so popular is because everyone wants to know everything and you have to progress, adapt, change and grow and I think this journal is definitely a way to give people another look at me. You might hear records and know certain things about me and there’s other things you probably don’t know. This journal will be cool to show you the day-by-day and week-by-week of Skyzoo.
It’s dope to have this journal running, especially coming off the success of my album with 9th Wonder, Cloud 9. That was a huge success and I’m greatly appreciative of all the fans who supported it. 9th is such a good dude for wanting to do a project with me and we just did our thing. He brought the beats and I brought the rhymes. A lot of people ask me if it really happened in three days and yeah, it really happened in three days. I was just bored with the radio and I just started writing. Cloud 9 was a real big success and it opened up a lot of doors from XXL to Scratch to the Source.
I’ve been in XXL four times in the past six months. The only one I set out to get was XXL’s Show and Prove. The rest came from the writers showing me love like Chairman Mao. Most of the time I don’t even know when I’m in until people tell me. It’s good when people show you love because they like the music and they WANT to put you in there on the strength. You know you don’t have to call a favor in and you know it’s more genuine. Cloud 9 is still doing its thing and I hope it continues to soar.
I’ve been working on my new mixtape, The Corner Store Classic. I know I’ve said it’s going to come out on various occasions, but I’m very picky with the beats, so that’s part of the hold up. Plus I’ve been going out of town and doing a lot of features for other people. I’m just trying to make a real heavy mixtape. The fans say I make good music and good mixtapes. They always say my mixtapes are so strong that they’re like albums. The Corner Store Classic is coming out real soon. In three weeks or so it should be available.
Production-wise, I got 9th Wonder, DJ Premier, Khrysis, Black Milk, Illmind and Ron Browz. As far as features, I got Maino, Stimuli, Torae, my Custom Made fam, Nina B and a few surprises too. It’s crazy. It’s definitely going to be a good look. I’m getting all that situated now. I’m getting ready to drop my official single with my man Illmind. We just got it mixed and mastered. We’re both real confident about the song and I think the people are going to latch onto it right away, like right off the muscle. I’m ready to get it out to y’all and see what it does. It should be out in a week or two. That’s going to be a real big look.
For all the fans who keep up with me through the HipHopGame Audio Page, I appreciate the love. With the records like “So Close” and “Like This” with Chaundon and the freestyle, I did that specifically for HipHopGame when 730 told me they wanted me for Artist of the Month. I did “So Close” specifically for HipHopGame and then we were going to push it around after it hit the site. It’s crazy with that record because we did it and I sent it to HipHopGame and 9th. He put it on his MySpace page and the next thing I know, somebody’s calling me telling me a DJ has it on his mixtape. That’s crazy. IT shows you where the game is at right now and how quick the music gets out there now. It also shows that when people want something, they want it and they get it however they have to. I appreciate it. I’m such a humble dude. I’m real laid back and appreciative and I hit everybody on the MySpace. I try to hit every single person back as fast as I can. For all those who wanted to know, I manage my own MySpace page. I try to hit every single person back as fast as I can. Every fan, every producer, every artist, all of y’all…I don’t have anybody else in my crew do it for me. If you read a message from me, I wrote it (except those dumbass spasm about pills and gift cards). I put the music and the pictures up there, the whole nine. I try to be as in touch with the fans as possible because the more they feel like they know you, the more they like you. I try to get that personal relationship out there.
I think this journal is going to be real fly. This entry is just an introduction as to what’s going on with me. This journal’s going to be crazy. I already got some topics for you. I promise you, it’s going to be incredible. I have good company with Poison Pen, Ron Artest, Black Milk and Killah Priest, so I’m definitely going to do my part. Holler at me. S, K-Y, Z-O-O!