SKYZOO & PETE ROCK – Retropolitan

RELEASED: September 20, 2019, Mello Music Group, review written by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U, and UK Ambassador for Wu-Worldwide DJ Coalition and Mixx Mafia DJs

TEN YEARS AGO, The Salvation dropped…

…and indeed, what a moment that was for who was once 9th Wonder’s protege and who could have been the face of Jamla Records, but he gave that proud honor to Rapsody. Two artists who have been consistently great over the last decade and only recently people are starting to pay attention, with Rapsody getting over a little more since she appeared on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly album.

skyzoo pete rock retropolitanThe great thing about Sky is, he is a humble man. Unlike a certain kid heads seem to be focussing their energy on as he snitches on the whole game and claims to be the King of NY, Gregory Skyler Taylor just continued working… and the veterans who have being doing this for years have been calling up Sky, not the other way around. 6 albums (Salvation, Dream Deferred, Music For My Friends, The Easy Truth, Barrel Brothers, In Celebration Of Us)  and several side projects (Cloud 9, The Three Day High, Live From the Tape Deck, The Great Debater, Theo Vs JJ, Ode To Reasonable Doubt, Corner Store Classic) later, Pete Rock decides to aid him on this latest offering – Retropolitan; A Love Letter and a Wake Up Call to New York, and rightfully so, it is a sad state of affairs to see so much quality music coming out this year and yet the rainbow man with drawings on his face continues to grab head’s attention.

BLACK PEOPLE!

Pete Rock was unreasonable with the start of this journey! A Glorious moment with reggae dancehall influences throughout this track and Sky maintains his integrity: “Still a black fist in the air quick as a heart rate/Nikes over Yeezys, Kaepernick over Kanye…”

After that start, it didn’t take long for Pete to jump in the booth himself for Truck Jewels, and he hasn’t missed a beat over the frantic vibe.

If Nas’ Carry On Tradition didn’t come off well on Hip Hop Is Dead… Sky’s version certainly will, and he’s brought Styles P along with him. This is classic Pete Rock production if I do say so myself. Three tracks in and you may have to consider plastic surgery because you have screwed up your face for so long. It flows beautifully into ‘Homegrown’… this is Sky & Pete’s way of reminding us where Hip Hop all started while other places (Dirty South, Westside, overseas, etc) took the artform and ran with it over say the last 20 years or so.

THIS GOES OUT TO YOU

The beauty of this one right here, is that Sky & Pete revealed this particular beat was dug out from the 90’s vault, so for all those who are still listening to 90’s Hip Hop in 2019, and haven’t listened to hip hop as soon as 2000 hit,  you can finally add on a single track in your collection. Now that my dig at those people has been established, It’s All Good…

Indeed it has been Ten Days between this release and when this review was written so it all ties in together. Word on the street is this album was done in just 12 days… maybe on the tenth day this happened. With this feel good track, sorry Craig, no one wants to know what happened in your seven days anymore…and ‘Richie’ sees Sky once again go into vivid storytelling mode, and the whole block was in Penny Jerseys, an item of clothing that will never go out of style just like football strips over here in the UK.

LET’S JUST MAKE TONIGHT ANOTHER WONDERFUL NIGHT

Ever since Drew & Derwin from A Dream Deferred, Raheem DeVaughn seems to be the soulful side of Skyzoo, just as Aaron Abernathy is to Black Milk, and as Dwele is to Common. This makes his third or fourth collaboration with him. I guess you cannot make a love letter to New York without including the Love King. In ‘One Time’ Sky thanks New York for everything thus far, and these lines may serve as a reference to his previous album ‘In Celebration of Us’ when he spoke of him escaping death as a kid over a school basketball game: “Where counting will lead you into the fold like origami/It could’ve overlapped and then chose to au revoir me…” And on top Sky talks about being harassed by cops just before teenage life which just goes to show how brutal police are over there, so Sky takes every day as a blessing…

…and then what many call as the posse cut of the year, Sky, Elzhi (The only non NY artist featured) and the Griselda crew form the Eastern Conference All Stars.  Benny the Butcher, Westside Gunn and Conway might well be the hottest NY artists today that not enough people know about and this is a great starting point for everyone else to catch up. there are so many one liners throughout this cut that serves the test of time, and they all have the Audacity of being Dope, and JUST.LIKE.THAT… Sky shuts it down with these bars over a soul drenched album closer: “Grew up with real Huxtables dealing with real Carters/Due to what they took but told you to still harbor/And the way that it rides, I’m just taking what’s mine/But forgive me for tryna steal honor like Killmonger
Praise due to the corner stores that I’m still part of/And for me being able to come home to my real father/All of this was said one way or another…” Trust me when I say this Sky, WE FORGIVE YOU!

If we’re being that honest then can’t too many follow this – Stage left, curtain drawn, Retropolitan

Skyzoo Pete Rock

This right here is exactly what heads want, nostalgia, lyrics to decipher, posse cuts, soulfulness, bangers, feel good joints, real life stories, plenty of replay value. Skyzoo has come a long way from being simply 9th Wonder’s protege to the underrated lyrical wordsmith and respected veteran in his own right he has become, if I could nit-pick at this project, I would have loved to see Torae here too, Sky’s fellow barrel brother could have jumped in on the action but decided nah, I had my fun with Pete, I’ma let Sky handle this. Otherwise this is flawless Hip Hop. This is Sky’s best work since either The Salvation or A Celebration Of Us, it really is a coin toss…You talk about a love letter to New York? This is more like a love letter and wake up call to Hip Hop in general, and many artists and fans have answered the call. It’s 2019 and Hip Hop is in the best shape of her life right now. I can see Sky & Pete making their way to the album of the year trophy… however they are still a few MCs who might still make exception to that. Until then, take a bow gentlemen.

 

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