This past Monday the dopehouse started a new series in which we allowed ya’ll to submit questions for Skyzoo to answer personally. After a week of submissions, we went through the mass amount of emails and Sky took the time out to answer a group of questions while I threw in two of my own for an added bonus. Topics ranging from the new breed of artists (J. Cole, Drake, Wale, etc), working with DJ Premier & Just Blaze, his battle with Jin (on 106 & Park), Barack Obama and more. Below is one of my own questions, then after the jump you can check the rest.
SHAKE: Although Obama still hasn’t had a full year to settle into his Presidential chair, how would personally grade his run so far?
I would give Obama a B+ right now, but I know he’s gonna get that A. It’s just about him getting the lane to run in. He’s obviously under extreme scrutiny right now, unlike any other former US president, so that’s gonna hinder things a little but when it’s all said and done, he’ll make that mark.
TAAVI: With Slaughterhouse being one of the hottest names in the game currently, would you ever consider being part of a group?
Yea I would definitely consider it. I’ve always been a soloist but I’ve also always been a fan of the group/crew concept. Feeding off of another dope emcee’s energy makes it easy to keep inspiration flowing. For example, when Torae and I make records, we go off of each other’s vibe and the creativity sparks. So yeah, I would consider group talks if they made sense timing wise.
IGNACIO: What is the process you go through when you put the pen to the pad? Do you listen to beats first or do you write first or is it a combo of both.
For me, everything starts with the beat. I never sit home and write a verse or a song and then go find a beat later to match it. When you write like that, your flow will never be 100% in pocket. Everything you hear me on was written to that beat. With this album, I had the concepts all mapped out, but I didn’t write the soings until I found the beat, and then once I found the right beat, I started penning. I feel like the beats talk to me, tell me which direction to go in, etc. I write everything to the beat itself, and I always write on the spot at the studio. I never write at home.
JUSTIN: How did you link up with Just Blaze? No disrespect, but it used to seem like only the big name major artists would collab with him, but now I see him with you & Jay Electronica. How did you manage that?
I had been trying to link up with Just Blaze for years, just as a fan wanting to get an opportunity. Whenever 9th (Wonder) comes to NY he hangs with Just and Young Guru, and he always calls me and let’s me know he’s here so we can kick it. So like 4 years ago I met Just at Baseline, and from there we remained in the same circles. In June 2008 I saw him at a party and told him I wanted to try to link with him and ask him about some possible work, so he gave me his number and told me to come to Baseline. When I got there I was like “Yo man, I know you get a ton for a beat, and I don’t even have my deal yet for this album, but I’m starting it now, and I’d be honored to have you on it”. He asked to hear what I had recorded already, and I played him “Bottom Line”, “For What It’s Worth”, “The Beautiful Decay”, and another record that I did with Don Cannon that I actually didn’t use for this album (but I’m definitely gonna use it for something soon), and Just said “Yea, I’m definitely gonna be on this album! Say no more”. Later on, he gave me the beat, and I recorded it at my home base studio wit my engineer Nyce, but I mixed it with Just and his engineer Andy at Baseline. Just did, the intro, and the rest is history. You’re absolutely right, Just works with Diddy and TI and Rihanna, so for me to get a Just track is an honor. From like 5 years ago, I always said to myself “There’s 2 producers that I HAVE to have on my debut; Just Blaze and J Dilla”. Being able to some what succeed in doing so is an honor. RIP to Dilla.
JUSTIN: Though, the tracklist looks like heatrocks, I was kind of disappointed to see that there wasn’t a DJ Premier produced record on The Salvation. Will we get to hear another track from you two? Possibly on the next CD?
Yea I’m sure Preem and I will get together again in the near future. I had a list of producers that I wanted to get with on the album, and obviously Preem was on that list, but scheduling and things like that got in our way. I’m sure we’ll do something on the next project more than likely. The thing is though, if I never get to work with Preem again, I’m ok with that, because most artists go their whole careers, get awards and plaques, etc, and never get a Preem beat. I got two. So I trumped alotta people regardless.
RONOJOY: Since you already had 9th Wonder produce a whole album (EP) for you, who would be another producer that you would like to produce a whole LP for you?
I wouldn’t mind doing something like that with Hi-Tek, or maybe Alchemist, maybe Chuck Inglish from The Cool Kids. That’d be dope. Nottz would be ridiculous too. We had crazy chemistry when we worked on “Popularity” and “Maintain”.
BADR: Whats your thought on MC’s that have stayed in the game for so long that they eventually die out of the public eye/popular culture. I mean MC’s like KRS-One and Rakim were pioneers and incredible back in the day, but it seems in this modern day their popularity has died out, hip hop seems to stray away from “aging”. I want to know what are your thoughts on this predicament in the culture.
Yea you’re right, Hip Hop isn’t a genre that embraces our stars getting older, like Rock or Jazz. Hip Hop is a young genre, so once rappers hit 35 or so, we push them to the door. I don’t have a problem with rappers getting older and staying around as long as they’re still nice and it’s not forced. If the fans honestly want them around, then by all means, serve the fans. But I think a lot of older artists force themselves in. It’s all about staying current, but also not tryna be 20 when you’re 40. There’s a market where older fans who were down since the 80’s are still around and want Hip Hop. I think that’s why “Survival Skills” is doing so well, because there’s a group who wants Krs and Buck to talk about the Hip Hop that THEY know, not do a dance or lean or whatever. When you have 40 year old rappers tryna make high school rap and the fans don’t respond, that’s when you gotta be honest and hang up the mic.
JUSTIN: To yourself, what’s the most important song that you have wrote so far?
Wow, that’s a tough question. I don’t know if I can pick one, but I can name a few. I’d say “The Bodega”, “Maintain”, “For What It’s Worth”, “The Shooter’s Soundtrack”, “Stop Fooling Yourself”, and “Dear Whoever”. They all hold so much weight in them. To me, they matter on a larger scale that I know people will get later.
EVAN: While you have released a lot of previous material, The Salvation marks your debut on Duck Down, and it will be the first piece of work that exposes you to a much larger audience. Therefore, which of the other recent up and coming artists (J. Cole, Drake, KiD CuDi, Blu, Wale, etc) do you admire most? Who from the XXL Class of 2009 do you listen to?
I know a lot of the XXL roster personally, so I listen to all of them on a regular basis and they do the same with me. Me and Currensy hit each other all the time when we hear a song from one another that we dig. He was actually the first person to hit me when I leaked “The Beautiful Decay” saying he loved it. I listen to Currensy, Blu, Cory, Mickey, and obvliously my homey Wale. I think we all (them and myself) make dope music that’s different from one another. None of the people I named sound alike, but we all get busy. I think that’s the best part about it. If everyone gets that light, you’ll definitely see that tide change in Hip Hop.
DANIEL: Of the 2009 Freshman Class (on and off the cover) who would you really be interested in working with (if any)?
I think Blu and I could make something crazy. Me and Curresny would definitely make a banger as well. Me and Wale make bangers all the time so that’s a go. A lot of them on that cover, I respect what they do.
SHAKE BONUS: The first time I caught your name was during your battle with Jin on 106 & Park. Do you think if they granted Timbaland wants of a Rd. 2… the outcome would’ve been different? Or was your AJ diss too much (Free was wack for that one haha)? What were your immediate thoughts after that day?
Lol, a round 2 would’ve been dope. I went both off the top and written, I mixed it up. So if we would’ve went to a round 2 I would’ve definitely went off the top. Who knows what would’ve happened. It’s funny because after the battle, Jin was like “yo you was killing it! That AJ shit was incredible. You definitely were the best outta all the previous weeks”. I knew I did my job, so I was good regardless of the outcome. Free was showing me tons of love off camera, so I guess she had to rep for AJ on camera as a politic thing, so I wasn’t mad at that. Even AJ showed love and said it was all good. For like 2 weeks I was getting stopped in the street by people saying “you you killed that verse!”, etc, so I was good afterwards. Jin is a cool dude. When I toured in China last year, I literaly ran into him in the street in Hong Kong. It was crazy. We hung out for the night and he came to one of the shows, we popped a bottle, etc. He’s doing his thing out there.
After reading this and there is still something you’d like to know, feel free to submit your own questions to Skyzoo by emailing [email protected]. We’ll be back next week with another batch of answers. And remember… The Salvation is in stores next Tuesday (September 29th).