Brooklyn MC Skyzoo's 2009 debut, The Salvation, drops with a curse-load of hype nipping at its heels. One of the first artists inked to wunderkind producer 9th Wonder's Jamla Records, Skyzoo stoked the excitement with a heralded mixtape, Corner Store Classic, a high-concept compilation touting his attempt to forge the intersection where 21st century gangster and enlightenment rap collide. On the brilliantly simple "Penmanship" (featuring slick Black Milk production), he boasts "they say I write a little different," and like Talib Kweli, Nas, and many other N.Y.C. rappers before him, the statement is true, and also like his forebears, what makes it so is near-impossible to define; it just is. There's something perfectly unadorned about Skyzoo's rapping style, as if he's preternaturally confident in his words and has no need to create a steady character with gimmicky inflection; on "Popularity," he posits he's "one of one and ain't the type for all the repeating." That said, he's a keen mimic when he wants to be. On the aforementioned "Popularity," he playfully glides into the Clipse's phrasing, even tossing out the Virginia duo's catch phrase "What It Do." 9th Wonder pulls another rabbit-steady beat out of his hat with the smooth '70s scratchy-soul groove of "The Beautiful Decay," while Skyzoo breathes poetic-hard life into one of hip-hop's oldest stories, the sonnet to the city's urban splendor. When he goes into the standard old-school borough-by-borough (plus surrounding burgs) shout-out, the fact that we've been here before is moot, his love is positively infectious. Skyzoo's passion for his craft runs deep and, perhaps egged on by an all-star production cast eagerly supplying the freshest of beats, the soul pours out in his flow. The Salvation is no revelation by any means, nor is it apparently trying to be, but it is a satisfying debut, a solid fulfillment of the promise built up by a young lion wordsmith.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Thurston