Skyzoo’s stunning debut, The Salvation gave us a look into the role that Hip-Hop has played in his life. With his solo follow-up, A Dream Deferred, the BKMC gives us a prequel and a look into the inspiration behind the dreams that made him one of the strongest rappers in the game.
A Dream Deferred is paradoxical as the album not only deals with the chasing of dreams, but the idea that chasing that dream doesn’t allow you to sleep and waste time dreaming. There is a cost to sleep and that cost has to be weighed when you consider chasing anything. He is clearly chasing the legacy of former neighbor Christopher Wallace both in music and esteem and there are various references throughout. “On closing note, The Cost Of Sleep,” Skyzoo notes:
See me I’m never faded, I made it where he made it, hope it don’t end the same but we get the same payment /Hope that I get my name scripted in the same cadence, know I be in my ways but I feel that I’m the greatest
The album is a thematic continuation of his lead in mixtape Theo Vs. JJ: Dreams vs. Reality, most visibly tied into the lead single ”Jansport Strings” which establishes Chi Ali’s “Age Is Just A Number” as the definitive inspiration for Skyzoo grabbing the mic.
Skyzoo is known for the density in his rhymes and the absence of basic two-line rhyme schemes. That density can get tough on the untrained but it is well-balanced by well-timed guest appearances on the album. Freeway’s relentless flow gets a dash of Onyx on “Pockets Full” and shines with lines like “ya’ll cities raise divas like Billy Ray Cyrus.” DJ Prince follows immediately after on “Give It Up” with a slow and steady confident flow that hangs with the host emcee bar for bar. Talib Kweli delivers his normal high-caliber contributions on the Brooklyn ode “Spike Lee Was My Hero.”
The R&B lane is taken care of, courtesy of hooks from Jill Scott on the opening salvo, “Dreams In A Basement,” Raheem DeVaughn on the after-club seduction track “Drew & Derwin” and Jessy Wilson getting her Total on with “The Knowing.” Skyzoo injects the pop culture references from a youth populated by Jansport Bookbags, Penny Hardaway foamposites, the movie Juice, Roemello from Sugar Hill and much more.
The production is executively handled by !llmind and there is a continuity of sound possessed of an ephemeral, dreamy tenor with jazzy horns, ambient synth and soft strings. There is speed variation as well as different constructions that keep your ears active.
Skyzoo has managed to maintain a loosely wound narrative with different sections of the album directly connected to others (The Knowing/Drew & Derwin) while supporting the over arching theme of acting on inspiration and the active pursuit of dreams without wasting time dreaming. The music is strong and the lyrics are advanced, but not opaque.
A Dream Deferred is more proof that if you follow your dreams they could very well lead to your salvation. Skyzoo is right aorund where Jay-Z was after Reasonable Doubt. With songrwiting and hook improvements the span of his music can reach much further than the heads. there is more confidence on this album than on the debut, but the production isn’t as loud. Just a few steps away.
Out of 5
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