- Raheem Nelson
All The Brilliant Things: A Conversation with Skyzoo
photo by Robert Adam Mayer
Ra: What made you want to create this album and how did you decide on the theme?
Skyzoo: The idea just came from me being fed up, honestly. Watching my neighborhood slowly change and our culture be taken and then sold back to us as a people, I felt the need to address it in a way that few had attempted to in the past. I felt that we as a whole needed it.
Ra: What went into the creation of “All the Brilliant Things?” What was the timeline for the creation of the album?
Skyzoo: I started writing and recording in August ‘19 and wrapped up in January ‘21, so it was a year and a half, but it was off and on. I’d work on it and then stop to work on other projects like “Milestones” and ghostwriting stuff, etc. It wasn’t a continuous thing.
But the timeline was a year and a half, and in that process everything from covid shutting down studio access to my vocal cord surgery to my grandmom passing away, even down to the first week of me working on the album I had a back injury and had to record using the wall in the booth as a back brace to hold me up. It was a wild ride on this one.
Ra: Did you face any issues dealing with the Pandemic during the making of this album?
Skyzoo: Yea I lost studio access due to all of them shutting down, so I built one in my house and now I solely use my home studio for all of my work. That was one of the very few bright spots of covid: it forced me to build my own studio.
Ra: What I admire about your pen game is that it’s so vivid. I literally feel like I’m walking through parts of Brooklyn when I hear your music. So, the question is how do you make music that’s catchy but so informative with your storytelling? It’s entertaining but also brain food.
Skyzoo: I guess it’s a gift. It’s a fine line to walk where you tap into the souls of listeners and give them food for thought while also being catchy and memorable. I’m blessed to be able to achieve that.
Ra: What are some of your favorite songs off of the album?
Skyzoo: Albums are like kids, the songs on them are all loved the same when you create them, lol. But if I had to choose I’d say Something To Believe In, Bodega Flowers, Rich Rhetoric, Culture-ish, and Soft Eyes. But man that’s tough because I love them all equally. The list changes daily.
Ra: So I hear that you’ve expanded into creating music for movies now. What’s that experience like?
Skyzoo: Creating for films and TV is amazing because it truly grasps the storytelling element. Even if it’s a song meant to double as “a joint”, it has to have some type of connection to the actual project. You can’t run away from it. You have to tap into the film or TV show and you have to connect the dots for the listener. It’s a dope challenge.
Ra: Can we expect more music videos off of the album?
Skyzoo: For sure. I’ll be shooting some vids all summer. I’m working on some treatments now with my man Hideph down here in Atlanta and a few other folks as well, just tryna bring the story to life even more than it is.
Ra: How did you decide on the cover art?
Skyzoo: Originally I wanted the cover to be that same image but as an actual photo with my son and I. We were gonna troop back to NYC and do a photo shoot in front of that building depicted on the cover, but again covid got in the way and we weren’t able to travel back home to Brooklyn, so I had to reroute the idea and get it illustrated.
I found an artist named Matt Rockefeller who does amazing work on children’s novels, etc and I described the idea to him via email. Two weeks later he sent me what you see as the final piece and I was blown away. Again, one more of the few and minor bright spots that came from the pandemic.
Ra: 3 part question. What does this album mean to you as an MC, a father and a Brooklynite?
Skyzoo: As an emcee it’s a perfect piece, according the the people, and myself. It’s a magnum opus of sorts. As a father it’s another cautionary tale that I’m leaving to my son to learn from and look back on when he’s older.
As a Brooklynite it’s something I did for the crib. Something that the crib can be proud of, knowing I did my part in trying to save us.
Ra: Are you planning any social distance listening parties or performances?
Skyzoo: I did an album release concert on release date weekend that was small due to covid restrictions, but we added the virtual element to it and it sold out. It was amazing.
Felt good to be back on stage. I’m back to doing live shows as the world is slowly starting to open up. I’m actually doing this Q&A while on a flight to LA for a show. So things are slowly getting back to some sort of normalcy.
Ra: What does your family think about the album?
Skyzoo: My family loves the album. They don’t really get to hear stuff until it’s done, with the rest of the world, as I hate playing snippets and roughs for people. I’m not a fan of letting people taste the meal before all the courses are finished and laid out together. But they love it for sure.
Ra: If in 100 years someone picks up this album and listens to it what would you want them to take away from it?
Skyzoo: I’d want them to get a view of what our world was like at the time it was created. The fight for our culture, our home, our dignity, I want people to understand the importance of winning that fight, and the poetic side of how I presented it. It truly is art.
Ra: Where can we find All The Brilliant Things?
Skyzoo: The album is available in all formats everywhere that music is found and purchased and streamed these days. There’s no outlet that doesn’t have it, so there’s no excuse to miss it. Lol.
Ra: And this isn’t a question but its more of an acknowledgement. I appreciate your intelligence, style and how you’ve influenced Hip Hop. Thanks for your time and I hope you realize how much respect I have for what you do. Thanks for your time.
Skyzoo: Man I appreciate that. It means a lot indeed. As artists who put the craft and the people over the money, words like that are what make this all worth it.
You can follow Skyzoo on IG @skyzoothewriter “All The Brilliant Things” is available now.