Two nights ago on October 8th, I hurried over to the BRIC Arts Media building on Fulton street in Brooklyn to catch the live recording of “B-SIDE” featuring their special guest, Skyzoo. The event was completely free and very intimate, with Skyzoo speaking on topics such as growing up in both Brooklyn and Queens, his latest album that released in late June titled┬áMusic For My Friends, the Knicks, and much more. The host of the night dug deep; she asked unique, detail oriented questions so that new fans of Skyzoo would know more of his story, while old fans learned new things that they never knew before. He performed multiple tracks off of his latest album with his DJ and trumpet player, and had the crowd bumping heavily to his jazz infused tunes.
Skyzoo is definitely relatable. With his calm demeanor and understanding eyes, he attracts your attention when he speaks. He introduced us to a 10 year old fan that came to see his performance (her name is Aja) and called her his new best friend, something that I’m sure she’ll never forget. He made time to talk to each and every fan of his, signed CD’s, and gave hugs. If Skyzoo was running for President, he definitely would have secured a plethora of votes.
When it was my time to approach Skyzoo for this interview, he greeted me warmly, and didn’t have me waiting too long. He answered my questions in depth, laughed along with my friends and I, and rubbed everyone the RIGHT way. Skyzoo is downright one of the most genuine and humble hip-hop artists that I have ever met. We spoke about his favorite memories of the Knicks, the pros and cons of gentrification,┬áand so much more!
Check out the interview below!
Image taken by Kenrick Yip.
Pia: Do you feel pressure upon you knowing that so many legendary emcee’s came out of Brooklyn?
Skyzoo: I don’t feel pressure due to being from Brooklyn, I think I more so feel pressure to one up myself. For me, personally, it’s not about the other artists who I grew up listening to and who I grew up admiring and learning from. I feel more pressure from within myself. ┬áIt’s like OK, I’m making music, and whatever I make today I need it to be better than yesterday, you know? So the pressure comes from that, it’s more so looking in the mirror as opposed to looking at anybody else. But, as opposed to pressure, there’s definitely more of a sense of pride being from Brooklyn, being from a borough and city where there’s so many incredible life changing emcee’s, larger than life, the ones who you know about, the one’s who you can’t escape because they’re larger than anything we’ve ever done, and everything in between. It’s a sense of pride to be able to carry on that lineage, you know?
P: We know that you are fans of Brooklyn legends such as The Notorious B.I.G.┬áand Jay Z, but what new school artists are you a fan of? Like are you a fan of Joey Bada$$┬áfor example?
S: Um, yeah Joey and Beast Coast and all of those guys, definitely. Definitely my man Ace Clark, he’s dope. There’s a new kid by the name of Kenrick, he’s dope as well. Him and Ace got some things, man. Brooklyn is so big, you know? It’s so many artists, aw man, I’m drawing a little bit of a blank, pardon me. I come from the era where you had to be able to kick it, you had to be able to get busy. So, there’s a lot of artists in Brooklyn who are doing that, sadly there are some who aren’t but that’s like anywhere else. You had to be able to kick it, and when I say “kick it”, I really just mean get busy with the pen. You had to really be able to stand tall, and get busy, so there’s a couple of us.
P: I heard you’re a die hard Knicks fan, what are some of your favorite memories of the Knicks?
S: Wow! Favorite memories of the Knicks, there’s few (laughs) Um, it’s tough because you know, it’s tough with us man. The dunk, Starks dunk of course. Melo signing, the first game where Melo and them played the Bucks, and he walked through and they said “Carmelooooooo Anthony!” for the first time, that was great. 62 points, Melo 62 points. Allan Houston shot, Larry Johnson┬á4-point play. Amare had a game, it was the first half of his opening season, he had a run, 30 points or better for nine straight games, something along those lines. So yeah, a couple of moments.
P: The cover art for your latest album┬áis an homage to your close friends, what specific block does the cover art take place on? And who is looking out the window?
S: Aw man, looking out the window was no one in particular, just the idea of having the old ladies on the block looking out the window feeling like they can parent you even though they’re not your parent. In the era I grew up in that was OK. Nowadays, somebody would get on Twitter or Instagram or call BCW like “who you think you are talking to my child?!” The way I grew up, everybody on the block if they were older than you they had the right to be your parent in some regard. They had the right to be able to say “don’t do that, don’t cross the street, don’t do this, don’t do that”. It was kind of like Do The Right Thing, you know? Like “Why you runnin’ in the street?!” and your mom comes out and says “thank you for saving my boy”, I grew up in that kind of era. So the lady in the window just symbolized a lot.
I grew up on a couple of blocks. I was born in Crown Heights, moved to Bed Stuy around 10/11 years old so I grew up there and wound up making that my home. I also lived in South Side, Jamaica Queens for a while throughout high school. But, that block in particular is St. James between Gates and Greene, which is the block I grew up on in Bed Stuy.
P: In the past,┬áwhat inspired #SundayMorningJazz? ┬áAlso, what was so special about “Lobster Fried Rice”?
S: “Sunday Morning Jazz” came from just me being such an avid jazz collector and fan of vinyl and all that. I played Jazz all the time in the crib. I had this vision of growing up being an old man and playing jazz records on a Sunday morning with a big ass glass of orange juice and just chillin’ being sixty-somethin’ or seventy-somethin’ years old. And I was like “why do I have to wait all of those years? I can do that now”, you know? I got orange juice, I got records (laughs) But in all seriousness, why not be able to do that NOW and share that?
You know you have Instagram and everybody putting up stuff or whatever, and I did it once, and it just came to me like “Sunday Morning Jazz”. I hashtagged it, and then it kept going. Now, I think it’s been like 2 years, and now you have other people doing it. If you go to the very first “Sunday Morning Jazz” post, it’s me. I started that. That’s all me. But, I love the fact that people are joining in, I love the fact that people are getting involved and becoming a part of it. I absolutely love it. It’s super dope to be able to just kick back and chill, and the dopest thing about it is putting other people on to jazz. So many people holla and say “I wait for your pictures every Sunday”. It’s putting them on and spreading the culture of jazz, and for me that’s cool.
For “Lobster Fried Rice”, when you grow up in a certain neighborhood or certain environment, you pretty much have three or four things to eat; Chinese food, pizza spot, chicken spot, heros. That’s it, that’s pretty much all you eat. In the morning you go to the corner store where you get your heros, you get your bacon egg and cheese, sausage egg and cheese, turkey bacon egg and cheese or whatever it is. That’s pretty much it. So, when you’re growing up in these environments and all that, the most expensive thing you can get which shows that you’re doing good and you’re kind of showing off a little bit is lobster fried rice. Whereas vegetable fried rice and all that may cost $4 or something, lobster fried rice is $5.50 because its lobster. So, it’s like “yo, I’m doin’ it!” It’s such a small win, but where you’re from where I’m from, a win is a win no matter how large or small it is. So, that’s all that really is.
P: What’s next for you musically?
S: I’m brainstorming. As far as some new music, no time soon. Maybe a collabo EP or something with a producer or some type of artist or whatever it may be, but nothing as far as a follow up yet. There’s going to be more singles and videos from the album. I do have a title for the next solo album which I’m not gonna jump into yet. I have like four beats put away, and out of that four it may turn into one beat after a while, you know. It’s like me and the beats are dating, we’re not in a relationship yet but we’re dating. It’s just all about what sticks around.
P: I know you’re a Brooklyn native, how do you feel about the current gentrification that is going on?
S: It’s pro’s and con’s, ups and downs like everything else. For me, the idea of gentrification as far as cleaning up certain neighborhoods, bringing certain things to the neighborhood; more police presence, more sanitation, you know, cleaning up establishing different businesses and restaurants, things for the community to enjoy, it’s all amazing. The problem with gentrification is the people who had to suffer for 20, 30 plus years get pushed out of the way, and these new people come in and get to enjoy everything. It’s like, wait a minute, we had to suffer for all this time, if you’re going to put anything right here where we live we should be the first ones to enjoy that. We should be the first ones to say “wow, there’s a clean park without fiends walking through”. But, you push us out the way, and you bring in these new people who look nothing like us from Seattle or Michigan or Wyoming to live here.
It’s like, let’s live in this together, it’s enough space. New York is huge. If I’m living in apartment 5C, they can live in apartment 5D and we can be cool, and we can enjoy this together, you know? These people coming from other states that look nothing like you and I, they look down on you. You’ve been in the neighborhood for 20, 30 years, you know everything about the neighborhood. You was there when it was good, bad, ugly, pretty whatever it is, and these people come in and they walk past you in the street. Like you nod and say “Hello, good morning”, and they don’t say anything back. For me, that’s the issue. Then, they wonder why they get swung on, or they wonder why something happens to their car. It’s like wait a minute, you can’t come over here and not acknowledge us. Yeah, we’re different, we’re from different walks of life, but at the end of the day we live in the same community, we want the same things which is a nice, peaceful spot to live in, dope amenities around us, and just being able to see another day. So at the end of the day, let’s live in this together, you know? That’s what it comes down to.
You can purchase Skyzoo‘s Music For My Friends on iTunes here!
Follow Skyzoo on Twitter here!
Follow Pia on Twitter here!