Skyzoo | Ought | Harm’s Way | Justin Timberlake | Nils Frahm | First Aid Kit
In Celebration of Us
Anyone remotely familiar with Skyzoo would be remiss not to concede the intricacy of his pen game; a new project from the Brooklyn MC has a track record of being guaranteed quality. So when the 35-year-old rapper calls a project his most “layered and conceptual” — essentially his best — to date, it’s reasonable for fans to salivate. In Celebration of Us is many things at once. For starters, it’s a celebration of both the glorious peaks and dark valleys of the black community. As the album progresses, amid production from the likes of !LLMIND and Apollo Brown (among others), he tackles themes that range from education and cultural appropriation to police brutality, classism and economics.
Probably the most understated and yet profound theme on this album is the value that Sky places on fatherhood. The album opener begins with a re-enactment of his father’s life, as he leaves behind the streets in favour of raising Skyzoo for a better chance. The album closer, “Honor Amongst Thieves,” produced by Seige Monstracity, includes a touching story of his childhood, stressing how influential his father’s impact was on his early life. It’s not until you catch the reference to his first child’s impending arrival, on “Love Is Love,” that
PSYCH FOLK you connect the dots, making the circular nature of the embedded stories feel like deliberately placed Easter eggs for his son, which is amazing. From top to bottom, In Celebration of Us is every bit as impressive as Skyzoo himself alluded to. Stellar production, songs that require multiple listens to fully grasp, and a conceptual vision that hits the mark — this is upper-echelon hip-hop. (First Generation Rich/Empire)
Did you approach this LP with your son in mind?
Definitely. I wanted this album to serve as a guidebook, you know? I wanted it to be something [my son] could always go back to, as far as what to expect, what not to accept, what not to tolerate and what to strive for and achieve being a black male in this world.
Has fatherhood made you rethink your approach to music?
I am slightly more cognizant of the ears that will hear [my music], but I’ve always been that way. Personally, I make a different type of music. It’s cool if kids listen. Granted, it’s not cookie cutter or bubblegum — at all — and I talk [a lot] about what’s going on in the street, but I do it in a way that makes it accessible.
though: each song on Steady is crafted with great care and blossoms further with every listen. “California Coastin’” unfolds into a mellow daydream, while “The Only Difference” expertly fuses rock, gospel and a hint of ragtime with its rousing tack pianos. On “Your Believer (Say Goodbye),” “2nd Most” and “The Remedy,” Beatchild positively transforms: you’ll find it hard to believe you’re not listening to a rare Jefferson Airplane record. Song after song, there is much to discover and even more to love. Retro, rich and layered, Steady is a thrilling journey you’ll be eager to repeat. There isn’t a single thing that Beatchild cannot do. (BBE) POP