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On December 4, 2013, Skyzoo will partner with producer Antman Wonder to release his final offering for the year: a concept album titled An Ode To Reasonable Doubt (AOTRD), presented by Sky’s imprint First Generation Rich, Inc. and Loyalty Digital Corp. As the title suggests, the independent project – featuring nine new Skyzoo x Antman collaborations – pays homage to Jay-Z’s 1996 debut album, with the release date carefully chosen to further honor the elder Brooklyn MC. The EP is being offered as a “Pay What You Want” release, with incentives offered at various price points. Loyalty Digital Corp. has partnered with several influential brands to offer incentive deluxe packages for those fans who are moved to support the project, including exclusive autographed merchandise and other prizes.

The idea behind AOTRD was actually born from Skyzoo’s fans. In 2011, around the release of Detroit-rapper elZhi’s Elmatic, an independent album inspired by Nas’s debut Illmatic, Skyzoo was asked by one of his Twitter followers if he had ever considered doing the same with Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt. As he always does, Sky retweeted the question with his answer, which was simply that it would be an interesting concept.

He had fully intended on leaving it at that, until he saw the level of interest it piqued with the fans, who immediately shared his tweet over a hundred times and replied asking that he make his Reasonable Doubt project a reality. Around the same time, Skyzoo was introduced to Antman Wonder, a classically trained musician and composer who had, coincidentally, crafted a collection of original instrumentals inspired by and in some cases sampling the production on the Roc-A-Fella opus. But for Sky who, at the time was managing a full plate of pending projects, the idea paused there: an interesting concept to potentially revisit for his fans, who have continued to ask about it daily since Sky’s very first tweet.

In the past few weeks, following the one year anniversary of his critically-acclaimed sophomore album A Dream Deferred, Skyzoo and Antman returned to the concept, crafting was is sure to become a fan favorite, most notably because it was created by two artists who have been inspired by Reasonable Doubt since its original release. “For me, Reasonable Doubt was and is one of the most cohesive bodies of work in hip hop, period,” says Skyzoo. “The way Hov painted exactly what that side of the fence was, from the highs and celebrations, to the lows and worried phone calls, to the emotions of someone truly with the weight of the world on their shoulders. It was as honest and clear cut as you can get. As a fan it made me wanna learn every word, and as an artist it further shaped my storytelling and approach to writing.” Antman Wonder recalls the album having a similar impact in his life. “Reasonable Doubt further defined Hip-Hop for me,” he explains. “It came out at a time where street rap was grimy and visceral; and then came RD, which was cinematic and ironically eloquent in its own way. The production staff on it was legendary and it helped shape the way I approach music.”

AOTRD truly reflects both artists’ appreciation of its influence, even down to the name of each song, titled as a reflection on Jay-Z’s original – “Dead Presidents” becomes “Meeting The Presidents”; “Can’t Knock The Hustle” is reimagined as “The Hustle Never Sleeps” and so forth. The result is a rare collection of songs that are as rich lyrically as they are sonically. “Reasonable Doubt literally raised a generation and stands as a pinnacle of the elusive marriage of pure Hip-Hop, intricate storytelling and reflection,” adds Skyzoo. “To be campaigned by the people to recreate it for our era is both an honor and a testament to what I’ve been able to achieve through my own music. An Ode To Reasonable Doubt will serve as another piece to the house that I’ve been building, while honoring and simply saying ‘thank you’ to my and everyone else’s favorite emcee.”

In preparation for the release, Skyzoo has been sharing studio footage and lyrics from the new EP exclusively with his online fans via his Instagram feed: @SkyzooTheWriter. An Ode To Reasonable Doubt will be available at noon on Wednesday, December 4, 2013.

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