Skyzoo – Peddler Themes (Review)

Reviews, Skyzoo

‘Peddler Themes’ serves as a prelude of sorts for Skyzoo’s upcoming LP ‘Celebration Of Us’, scheduled for release at the end of the year. The New York lyricist showcases his smooth flow, intricate rhymes and experienced technique across this enjoyable eight track EP, which is guaranteed to stay on any boom bap fan’s playlist for the foreseeable future.

The dusty, soulful ‘Bamboo’ is a dope cut; the instrumental’s off-kilter textures during the verses are partnered with subtle, jazzy brass-lines in the cool, calm chorus. Skyzoo’s lyrical prowess is well-known amongst rhyme enthusiasts, and his ear for tasteful beats that compliment his developed style is a strong skill to have. ‘Finesse Everything’ is a definite highlight; summer, old-school vibes provide a pocket that Sky always shines in, and the melodic, precise flow is executed as professionally as ever.

Revered Ner Jersey musician !llmind’s knocking, nineties influenced production on ‘Let It Fly’ makes for an impressive track; the crisp snares and filtered, soulful vocal chops back confident, cocky stanzas from the Brooklyn based writer. The sophisticated, tasteful production continues on ’95 Bad Boy Logo’, with a dope mixture of traditional influence offset by quirky, synthetic lines courtesy of Atlanta beatsmith Tuamie. The cohesive sound of ‘Peddler Themes’ makes the concise EP a chilled, mellow listen, and the stellar line-up of producers makes the project one that will standout in Skyzoo’s already impressive discography.

‘Peddler Themes’ is another reminder that the lyrical, soulful hip-hop of years gone past is still well and truly alive. Skyzoo commands a masterful penmanship, and the musicality of the producers on display allow him to paint vividly with his complex, heartfelt delivery. The New York spitter has dropped an EP that will be a guaranteed fan favourite, although if you’re a less seasoned Skyzoo listener, it’s not a bad introduction either.

By Sam Bennett






Torae – Entitled (Review)

Reviews, Torae

New York underground MC Torae releases his second solo studio album, ‘Entitled’. The Brooklyn rapper has built up a great reputation as one of the underground scene’s most consistent and intelligent artists, with a smooth flow, honest content and a classy overall vibe. This new LP includes appearances from Phonte, Saul Williams and Pharoahe Monch as well as production from beatsmiths such as Apollo Brown, Mr. Porter, Pete Rock and many more.


The Pete Rock produced ‘Get Down’ is an early highlight; a stripped back boom bap beat and humble, proud writing from the Coney Island MC makes it clear what Torae is all about. It’s rare that a rapper mixes raw, street-smarts with a down-to-earth attitude with such results. The writing is technical too, with internal rhymes and solid flows throughout.

‘Clap Shit Up’, which features Phonte from Little Brother, follows and is another excellent cut. The gritty production, courtesy of Nottz, is outstanding; crunchy drums and menacing sample-work backs aggressive, believable lyricism from the two MCs. Phonte spits “Not here to lollygag/I specialize in bodybags” and “Don’t really claim to be a tough guy, but never been the shook type/Last name, Look Like, first name, Fuck I”, showing why he’s maintained an impeccable reputation.

‘R.E.A.L.’ is a punchy, powerful soulful track, with beautifully chopped samples and an expertly authoritative flow from Torae. Apollo Brown’s contribution ‘Coney Island’s Finest’ is great too, with crisp cymbals and a sinister piano line backing Torae’s personal reflection on his upbringing and neighbourhood, displaying lyrical prowess throughout. ‘Troubled Times’ is another dope one; Torae is a versatile MC, as he sounds good on gritty production as well as on the softer beats exhibited in this case by New Jersey’s !llmind.

‘The eND’, the closing track on the standard edition of the album, is one of the best. Torae explains his opinion on the use of the n word, and he displays his social awareness with honesty and intelligence over a smooth MarcNfinit production. The deluxe edition includes two excellent bonus cuts. ‘Saturday Night’ is a stellar DJ Premier crafted track, and the Pharoahe Monch featuring ‘What’s Love’ is a potently soulful track, with groovy deep basslines and drums guaranteed to get your neck a snappin’.

Torae has once again demonstrated his capability with lyricism, and his ear for beats is flawless; a list of deservedly reputable producers provide a cohesive backdrop for ‘Entitled’, and the features he enlists for the project are well selected and placed. Torae’s second full length LP is a welcome addition to his growing catalogue, and it’s a promising sign that real hip-hop is here to stay in 2016.

By Sam Bennett