A Dream Deferred is hip-hop in its purest form. One of this year’s most refined releases, the album plays like an autobiographical hopscotch. Jumping back and forth between subject matters and personal experiences, Skyzoo is at his best when dropping knowledge on those more interested in hearing the real instead of imagining the fake.
The Radio Raheem of hip-hop, music runs through Skyzoo’s veins like cocaine does a drug addict. He’s not in it for the dollars. He’s in it for the love. He’s in it for the culture. He’s an endangered species amongst the new breed who only see money and power. However, endangered species are often the ones that impress the masses the most when given the chance. This instance proves no different.
Opening with what can only be described as a beautiful piece of music – forget hip-hop for a second, we’re talking music as a whole – ‘Dreams In A Basement’ is instrumentally one of the most delicate records this side of the past five years. Lyrically Skyzoo takes it to a place of witty wordplay without the use of arrogance. Dreaming of his future with destiny on his side he spits, “My attempt be everything the rent be/ Call it hand to hand but the hand can’t be empty/ So I was in the basement sparring with complacency.” Not forgetting the angelic sounds of Jill Scott’s vocals which interrupt each verse to lay down a hook, if you listen closely you can even hear her sing some eerily attractive underlining ad libs.
Not afraid to admit that he’s a fan, Skyzoo directly and indirectly dedicates some of the tracks featured on A Dream Deferred to a chosen few who inspired him as a youngster. While the Talib Kweli featured ‘Spike Lee Was My Hero’ is an obvious ode to the famous film director, lead single ‘Jansport Strings (One Time For Chi-Ali)’ is a shout out not only to the sporting and hiking accessory used to secure items to bags and belts alike, but also recently freed Bronx rapper Chi-Ali. Skyzoo has always maintained that the reason he raps today is because of Chi-Ali, and what better way is there to show your appreciation than jumping on a 9th Wonder beat to acknowledge your importance?
With so many stand out joints it’s hard to pinpoint individual moments that make this, Skyzoo’s second album, the solid musical offering that it is. The Jahlil Beats produced ‘Range Rover Rhythm’ would be a good start. Acting as a great platform for the BK representative to spit non-stop like an assault rifle on, his wordplay and breathing skills are put to the test when winding in and out of the instrumental. The way in which the horns nestle in to the beat is somewhat organic. It’s as if the beat grew in to itself with no external guidance. On this occasion perfection is easily achieved.
Other ear pleasing joints come in the form of the Juice inspired ‘Steel’s Apartment’, complete with Tupac opening sample, and the Freeway assisted ‘Pockets Full’; the latter of which hears a hungry ex-Rocafella Records alumni going in to the point that if the two emcees ever decided to make a collaborative album based upon this hook up then hip-hop would definitely be in a better place.
The only criticisms Skyzoo faces with the release of this album is the fact that the closing record, ‘The Cost Of Sleep’, is in no way, shape, or form an album closer – the album just sort of ends with no fanfare, and the poor track choice with regards to ‘Give It Up’, which hears an attempt at meshing a dubstep synth with hip-hop drums fail.
As an album, A Dream Deferred is a satisfying thirst quencher for the hip-hop fiend missing the boom bap golden era. As an artist, Skyzoo gets better and better as each year passes with complicated rhyme patterns and structured choruses to boot. There’s absolutely no need to put off this dream because it’s the type that you won’t want to wake up from.