Skyzoo and Dumbo Station's 'The Bluest Note' Is a Masterful Mashup of Hip-Hop and Jazz
Published May 04, 2020Anyone familiar with Brooklyn MC Skyzoo knows his penchant for jazz music; whether through references in his rhymes, the samples in his music, or his weekly Instagram posts, jazz is a consistent thread that weaves throughout his brand. So, his latest EP, The Bluest Note, was inevitable. In the vein of jazz infusions like Guru's iconic Jazzmatazz, Skyzoo has teamed up with Italian jazz outfit Dumbo Station to craft a short, lovely and lyrically top-tier tribute to Blue Notes Records.
As usual, Skyzoo's writing remains like an onion: layered with references and Easter eggs that require multiple spins to properly catch and decode — like his reference to Mac Miller on "Good Enough Reasons." Across the six-song release, rhymes run the gambit from light-heartedly braggadocious (see the first verse of "The Caveat") to profound (see the lush, horn-laden outro song "Sing Comfortably").
"Give and Take" is one especially fun track that focuses on compromise as the core competency for a successful relationship. Here, Sky contrasts his tastes and habits with that of his partner's. "Her liquor kinda white, my liquor black, we pour them parallel, it's like Obama back," he raps.
Harkening back to the themes of gentrification, which he visited on last year's Retropolitan, "We (Used To) Live in Brooklyn, Baby" sees him describing the Brooklyn of yesteryear that raised him. The BK that gained planetary notoriety on the backs of a culture has been systematically replaced with organic fruit spots and unaffordable condos.
As with past projects, the brightest elements of Skyzoo affairs come from endearing doses of personal introspection and growth.
On "There It Goes," Sky dives into how his son and homeownership ultimately helped to ground his restless nature. However, he notes that he still has a drive and hunger for more — just seemingly from a more settled, elder statesman perspective.
Perhaps to its detriment, The Bluest Note — much like hand-printed artwork painstakingly crafted in an artist's studio — requires some context to grasp its allure, considering the arc of Sky's career to date and his very vocal love of jazz music as a whole. It isn't inherently notable that the songs have donned a deliciously live aesthetic, as that is nothing new for the Brooklyn luminary. Instead, it's that he not only created another volume of bars begging for replays, but also that he worked to steer and craft the live instrumentation, which is devoid of drum machines, loops and other hip-hop staples.
For fans of boom-bap hip-hop and jazz music at large, the chemistry Sky and Dumbo Station have is off the charts, making The Bluest Note an enjoyable listening experience. For those slowly finding themselves in the rabbit hole of the underground's new wave, this project not only delivers the upper echelon raps you crave, but serves as a palatable gateway into jazz. (Tuff King Records/First Generation Rich Inc.)