“Celebrating the win/ Celebrate what it meant, Do remember and celebrate it again”
The first lyrics recited by Skyzoo on his sophomore album not only set the tone for A Dream Deferred, but put his whole career to this point in perspective. It’s been three years since the release of his debut album, The Salvation. While the gap has left plenty of room for the Brooklyn lyricist to grow, the public has been fortunate enough to witness it firsthand through a series of critically acclaimed side projects released since that time span. Between a collaborative album with producer Illmind (Live From The Tape Deck), to The Great Debater, and the more recent Theo vs. JJ: Dreams vs. Reality mixtapes, he has kept his fans satisfied as he placed the final touches on what could only be his most ambitious work to date. With the album completed, the Brooklyn lyricist attempts to connect the pieces between all of his projects in one grand effort.
The album opens up with an excerpt from the movie Fresh that leads right into the introductory track “Dreams In A Basement”. Produced by longtime collaborator !llmind, Skyzoo lyrically sets the scene over a smooth melody that’s enhanced by the vocals of Jill Scott. For an opening track it’s not as grandiose as one would expect sound wise, but works surprisingly well for the direction Sky chooses to take. Leading into the lead single of the album, “Jansport Strings (One Time For Chi Ali)” has him embracing his Brooklyn roots in proud fashion. 9th Wonder provides the backdrop filled with the boastful sounds of trumpets and bass. While the song itself is track meant to reminisce, Sky is able to relate the tales of upbringing beyond the masses of his borough.
It should be noted that lyrically Skyzoo has always been in a class all his own, but it’s his ability to craft tales from a character perspective that deserves much more credit than it receives. “The Rage of Roemello” has him embodying the spirit of Roemello Skruggs, lead character of the movie Sugar Hill. The parallels between the reality of his lyrics and that of the movie are interwoven forming an entirely unique perspective. This is also evident on “Steel’s Apartment”, quite possibly the crown jewel of the album. Serving as an ode to the cult classic film “Juice”, Sky one ups the concept by drawing inspiration from the ambitions and dreams the characters of that film all embodied in their own respective ways. Look no further than the reflectively triumphant chorus to fully appreciate this track.
As much as one would love to praise the direction and conceptual choices made on this album, it isn’t without its missteps. The unimpressive “Give It Up” could have been left on the cutting floor, and the Raheem Devaughn assisted “Drew & Derwin” is bearable depending on the listener. In any case these slight flaws don’t diminish the strong points of the album one bit. “Range Rover Rhythm” is Skyzoo at his best, mixing street poetry with good life sensibilities. If there was ever a song that mainstream radio needed then this would be the one, as producer Jahlil Beats shows why he’s one of the more sought after producers on the rise.
In the past Skyzoo projects have often seem one dimensional in terms of not fully showing his versatility in terms of wide spread appeal. “The Knowing” rejects that notion, as Sky uses the track to seduce the opposite sex with a record that could also tap crossover recognition if given the right look. Of course the self-proclaimed “Writer of Writers” wouldn’t be him if he didn’t pay homage to one of his main inspirations with “Spike Lee Was My Hero”. Together him and fellow Brooklyn Native Talib Kweli show their appreciation for the film icon while offering nostalgic perspectives on his more classic works.
If there was ever any question of where Skyzoo could go as an artist, he proved that on his sophomore LP, there is no ceiling to what he can create. A Dream Deferred is an album filled with everything that long time fans have come to expect, while still remaining accessible for newer ones to embrace him. This record will probably have you listening to it repeatedly in an effort to decipher and catch every lyrical gem left here, and there in lies the true beauty. Skyzoo compiled an album that forces listeners to think, while he captures his dreams and realities for them to interpret in their own subjective ways. For that reason alone, he has shown that his efforts haven’t gone to waste.
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