Forget blaming it on the auto-tune or whatever critics can muster, because for Hip-Hop is surely alive and now proven with a new face. This particular guy has been gaining a buzz with his sky-rising way he plays with words- demanding the attention of the Hip Hop masses. Previously working with the late Dilla, he has already gained the attention of Hip-Hop celestial bodies' ranging from Sean Price to EPMD. Meet Gregory Skyler Taylor, otherwise known as Skyzoo and 9th Wonder's new label signee. Incredible work ethic and true passion for music bound these two beings together- simply throwing down on some good, respectable Hip Hop music. Anticipating the release of his new album- The Salvation, Skyzoo gives AHH a good teaser of his art of storytelling and thoughts on current day Hip-Hop controversies.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people do not know that you were the guy that was taken out by Jin on BET's 106 & Park Freestyle Friday. Who would ever think you would have the buzz you have now? Was there any type of rapper's detox that you went through to bounce back and be as successful as you are today?
Skyzoo: Naw, not at all because for one, with that, it was so long ago and two, it wasn't really a big deal because at the end of the day, I refuse to let my career be dictated by one situation from 7 years ago. I make music, so regardless I was gonna get where I am now. After it all, Jin and I remained cool and hes shown me nothing but respect as a lyricist, and vice versa. You cant watch that battle and think that I got slaughtered or anything like that, and the fans have always argued over who had the one-up. It was fun and great for the sport, and we both walked away on our own paths. I actually ran into Jin in Hong Kong when I toured out there in 2008 and we hung out for awhile and kicked it.
AllHipHop.com: How did you use the advantage of growing up in Brooklyn to further your success- I guess at that time being an independent artist? Was there anything that you took full advantage of since you were in Hip Hop's proclaimed birthplace?
Skyzoo: Just observing. Just growing up when Hip Hop was really coming into position and just observing what was around me, just taking it all in. Pretty much just being a sponge for everything that Hip Hop had to offer in New York coming up in the '80s, the '90s and everything.
AllHipHop.com: Before I ask you about the Cloud 9: The 3 Day High EP that you and 9th Wonder put together, I have to ask about the chemistry which you just touched on. You and 9th put that EP together in 3 days-literally. I can say the quality doesn't sound any short of an EP that had more time spent on it. How was the process putting that project together?
Skyzoo: Well with 9th, I think we're cut from the same cloth as far as music, as far as what we like and what we don't like, and we came up on a lot of the same things. I grew up on everything from Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane and NWA to Kid n' Play to Sade to Nirvana to John Coltrane and Miles Davis. I grew up on all different types of music, and it all shows. 9th is the same way, he has a love and appreciation for so many types of music. So we're similar in that aspect and we just love dope music, dope Hip Hop, dope beats, rhymes, the whole deal. It just makes since when we get together as far as making records. With Cloud 9, I pretty much did the whole project on my own. The way that went down, I was in New York, and every time I see 9th he gives me a bunch of beat CDs.
So I have tons of beat CDs from 9th- tons of beats no one has ever heard. I was home one day and I pretty much was just bored with where music was at, you know, there wasn't anything to listen to. There wasn't any mixtapes, there wasn't any albums out that were exciting and there wasn't anything on the radio. I was like "You know what, I should just make something just to listen to, just to have something to ride around to." So that's how it came up and I just started making records and then I was like "You know, this is where I'm going to stop at, and I stopped at where I thought I had enough and I did about nine records in two days. Then I went to North Carolina a few days later, got with 9th and I gave him the CD- he didn't even know I was putting it together. I gave him the CD and he loved it, he was like "Yo what do you want to do, like, we have to finish it. Whatever you want to do let's do it because this is amazing." We did three more records in a day and that's how it came out to be 12 songs in 3 days. But I did the majority of it in my studio up here in NY with my engineer DJ Nyce.
AllHipHop.com: Jay-Z's "Death of AutoTune". Of course he addresses the artists that uses the autotune, but would you agree with the song? How do you feel about it because I personally feel like it was way over due and should have been put out a long time ago. What's your feel on it?
Skyzoo: I feel like its dope. I feel like it's a dope record- you know the beat is real dope, the rhymes are dope, the message is dope and everything like that. I see that he's doing interviews and things like that where he's talking about what he means by the record because a lot of people feel that it rubbed them the wrong way. I think at the end of the day his message was dope, I just hope that it pertains to everyone it's suppose to pertain to. At the end of the day, a lot of his best friends are people who do all of that all day. I just hope the message pertains to everyone it's suppose to pertain to.
SKYZOO - "Way To Go" Directed by: Laura Adibe
AllHipHop.com: How do you think 9th would feel if you came to him saying that you wanted to do a auto-tuned record?
Skyzoo: I mean he would look at me crazy, but he would try it. 9 out of 10, he wouldn't put it out. He would try it just to see, but he wouldn't put it out. He wouldn't be with it if it wasn't right. I'm 99 percent sure that he wouldn't be with it because it wouldn't be right. You know I'm not a singer. I don't want to do any auto-tune on my record that I don't have any goal, ambition or plans to do that what so ever.
AllHipHop.com: My favorite track on The Power of Words mixtape is "Fresh Fest" which features Wale. How do you personally maintain the lyricism without having to dumb down your style for a hit record?
Skyzoo: I think that's apart of again what I grew up on- the music I grew up on. You had people like Jay-Z, Big, the whole Bad Boy era and all of that where they had lyricism and dope records that were hits as well. So it's all a part of that. I think now in days, people look at it like it has to be one or the other like if your lyrical, you can't have a hit record or you cant have a great record out that people want to hear over and over again and if you have a hit record, you can't have lyrics in it where people are like "Wow did you hear what he said?" People feel like it has to be one or the other and I'm not on that. I go all the way. So every time I get on the mic, it's going to be lyric driven. Regardless if it's a "hit" or anything else, it's going to be lyric driven.
AllHipHop.com: Can you name the top 5 emcees who were the best storytellers?
Skyzoo: Definitely got BIG, Nas, Jay-Z- a lot of people over look Jay as a storyteller, but he was an incredible story teller- he is an incredible storyteller. But the difference with him being a storyteller, a lot of it is about himself, so he puts himself in 1st person. I think people get lost in that, they don't really think it's storytelling when you're just talking about yourself and your life. But when you create characters, create scenery, and create times and different places- things like that where things are happening in the story- that's when people look at it as a story. Like Nas- "I Gave You Power" and BIGs "I Got A Story To Tell" or something like that. But when you just reciting the things that happened in your life, people over look it as storytelling. But Jay will definitely be a storyteller, Scarface, and if I had to name one more... I can definitely say Raekwon. You know, Only Built For Cuban Links- which is one of my favorite albums is also full of stories and things like that.
AllHipHop.com: Now, if you were Radio Raheem from the movie Do The Right Thing had your boom box walking down the street, What would you be blastin'? What would be on your radio?
Skyzoo: Right Now?
AllHipHop.com: Yes, right now. It doesn't matter if it's new or old.
Skyzoo: Besides my own stuff, I'm always interested in anything Jay's putting out just because of his legacy and what he has done and what he does musically. What else am I listening to... I'm listening to The Clipse, my man Sandman from Philly. That whole Philly scene- Young Chris, Freeway, all of them. Young Chris is one of my dudes- that whole scene is just real dope out there in Philly. Definitely Wale, my man Torae and Stimuli and all that- all the Brooklyn hometown stuff. Jeezy's always getting play, and you know things like that, things of that nature. It's real different. I listen to things all across the board you know.
AllHipHop.com: Of course I have to ask about The Salvation, this is the album youre working on currently. What's the your mind state going through the structure of this album?
Skyzoo: Well with the album, it's all the stuff that I ever wanted to say. It's my debut. It's my first child- it's my first baby. So there's a saying that when you make your first album, you take your whole life and put it together in your head. The minute you start rapping or singing or whatever it is, all you want to do is get an album out. It's real conceptual, a lot of storytelling, real vivid as far as the music and the lyrics and what you see. Everything that I'm saying is what you can see and visualize.
AllHipHop.com: Before we go, I have to ask do you have any last words for Hip Hop?
Skyzoo: What I would say as far as Hip Hop and music in general, just keep being authentic and real. To anyone making music, just do it from the heart, do it because you love it no matter what type of music you're making. I don't think there's a such thing of what you can or can't classify as real Hip Hop. Hip Hop is anything that's real to somebody. I think the music Jeezy makes is real Hip Hop because it's real to him, that's his life, that's what he lives, that's what he represents. I think what Murs does is real Hip Hop because that's his life and what he represents and what's real to him. So I don't think you can say what's real Hip Hop and what's not. Just because something didn't have a 808 or whatever it is, that it's not real Hip Hop. What's real to you and authentic to you is what it is. As long as you're telling your story and everything isn't just about popping a bottle or throwing money in the air. Everything is also not about trying to go back to '94 and wearing backpacks all day and all that.
SKYZOO "The Necessary Evils" Directed by Tee Smif