Back in mid January, Skyzoo, who was born in Crown Heights but reared in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York, took to Twitter to announce the impending release of a, now highly anticipated, collaborative project with none other than iconic producer, Pete Rock. The new album is appropriately titled Retropolitan.
On the eve of release of the eagerly awaited joint twelve track, future classic, LP, the match made in Hip-Hop heaven/dynamic musical duo recently dropped the set’s second offering, an epic posse cut, “Eastern Conference All-Stars,” featuring Benny The Butcher, Conway The Machine, Westside Gunn and eLZhi.
We recently caught up with Skyzoo to talk about the new project, working with Pete Rock and so much more. Check out the full interview below:
Parlé Mag: The album’s lead single/video is entitled “It’s All Good” — Tell me about this particular track; how did it come to fruition?
Skyzoo: Well, I picked the beat at Pete’s crib during the initial session we had that started the project off. I went to his house and picked beats out, and when I heard that one I knew I had to have it. He then told me how he made the beat in 1994, so it was literally 25 years old. The best part about it is that it sounds like it was made yesterday. It has a vintage NYC feel, but doesn’t sound dated at all. It sounds like progressive Hip-Hop from back then, up to now and beyond. Lyrically, I just wanted to speak on the city that I know and the city that raised me, back then, nowadays, and what may happen in the future due to the president.
Parlé Mag: Talk to me about the title, Retropolitan. How did you come up with that?
Skyzoo: The title came from a friend of mine who has a clothing line in NYC called De Las Flores. One of the hoodies in the line says RETROPOLITAN across the chest. I thought it was a dope title, merging the ideas of the city and the way it was and how it should be, and I connected with them on me naming the album after that word. They gave their blessing, and the title was locked in. The album speaks the language of what that word means. The city that I know and love, in all of its splendor and all of its faults, from a time that we were proud of.
Parlé Mag: Of course, you teamed up with Mr. Chocolate Boy Wonder himself, Pete Rock — How did this collabo even come about?
Skyzoo: The label we’re releasing it through, Mello Music Group, came up with the idea of us pairing together to make the LP. Pete and I have been tight for a while and always talked about making a bunch of music, so this was the perfect opportunity. Pete’s name and rep speak for itself. As someone who’s top 5 in the history of Hip-Hop production, I’m honored to have him on board with me on this.
Parlé Mag: How does Retropolitan either differ and/or compare to previous Skyzoo efforts?
Skyzoo: It differs in the sense of me speaking on what’s currently going on in my city, which wasn’t going on during previous albums, as every day brings new realities. But it’s similar due to the attention to lyricism, detail, storytelling, cohesion; all the things that people come to know and love me for. You’re getting exactly what you came for.
Parlé Mag: As mentioned, Retropolitan is a Mello Music Group project, this isn’t your first project with them, but what led to this union once again?
Skyzoo: I’ve worked with MMG in the past, as they released my 2016 album The Easy Truth with Apollo Brown. So this was familiar territory with them. I love how they operate, and hopefully we can do more work in the future. They’re a great team.
Parlé Mag: Now tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it actually all begin for Gregory Skyler Taylor?
Skyzoo: Aww, man, my full government, huh? Sky laughs Everyone calls me by my middle name which is Skyler, so I haven’t heard Gregory in ages More laughter For me, I got into creating music early on, say about 9 years old. I was a NY kid who heard Hip-Hop everywhere. I had young parents when I was growing up, so Hip-Hop was wrapped around me by default. When I was 9 I heard an artist by the name of Chi Ali who was 15, and when he released his album I was hooked. I instantly wanted to become an emcee solely off of his music back then.
Parlé Mag: Growing up in the “Borough of Trees,” who else did you consider to be your strongest musical influences?
Skyzoo: Well outside of Chi when I first started out, Brooklyn guys like Biggie, who I grew up a block away from, Jay-Z, Black Star, the Boot Camp Clik, guys like that. Outside of the borough though, Nas, the GZA, Raekwon, anyone who used their pen and took it seriously. Guys who got busy. Outside of Hip-Hop, people know that I’m a huge Jazz head, so Miles Davis, Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, the list goes on. I can talk Jazz all day.
Parlé Mag: At what particular point in time, specifically, did you even opt to pursue music on a professional basis?
Skyzoo: I knew when I was 9 that this was what I wanted to do. From day one of me holding a pen and pad. But the reality set in around 2006 that this was gonna be it for real. And it worked. I’m blessed indeed.
Parlé Mag: With that being said, how do you classify your overall sound and/or style?
Skyzoo: My style is lyricism, point blank, period. People know me for double entendres, layered meanings, rewind button ability, and telling stories that speak to a generation of people from one era transitioning into another. My sound is NYC, but relatable to people from any and everywhere. It’s a fine line that I’m honored to walk.
Parlé Mag: In having said that, when you sit down to pen your lyrics where do you draw your inspiration from?
Skyzoo: My inspiration comes from everyday life. The things that go on around me are the things that shape my thinking and writing. I’ve been told my music is a social project. I love that perception of it.
Parlé Mag: Switching gears here, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you, either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
Skyzoo: Well, the digital error made things change for sure. Everyone had to learn on the fly. But for me, it’s all about remembering that this is a business first. That’s the whole key to understanding it all and not getting lost in it. It’s sad, but it’s a reality.
Parlé Mag: Longevity, what do you attribute yours to?
Skyzoo: I’ve made it a priority to take care of my people, as in my fans and supporters, wholeheartedly. If you make sure your core is satisfied, you’ll be successful for a long time. People know what they come for when they come to me, and they get it every time.
Parlé Mag: What do you want people to get from your music?
Skyzoo: I want people to always see themselves in it. Whether they’re from NYC or 10,000 miles away, I want them to continuously relate. Find the joy in what I do, knowing we’re from similar places.
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop?
Skyzoo: I’d say I’m happy with the fact that there are outlets for all types of Hip-Hop to be created and enjoyed. I’m happy that you can find what you’re looking for in various places, not just what the masses may be forcing upon you.
Parlé Mag: Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
Skyzoo: I’ve always been a writer, so aside from my music I’ve been doing ghostwriting for a slew of rappers and singers, all of whom are household names and award winning platinum selling artists. That keeps me busy, as well as my script writing for a few series’ I’m creating and developing, which will hopefully see the front-end of a camera soon.
Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your greatest career achievement(s), at least thus far anyway?
Skyzoo: I’m blessed to be able to say that question would take me forever to answer, but most importantly is me being able to contribute to Hip-Hop the way that I want to, knowing that people relate to it, love it, support it, and in a way live by it. That would be at the top for sure.
Parlé Mag: If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Skyzoo: Miles Davis, easily. Of all the musicians I love, he’s hands down my favorite. I named my son Miles after him. He was truly a giant in the legacy of music, regardless of genre. He’s the greatest.
Parlé Mag: If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Skyzoo: I’d say Carnegie Hall. Being able to bring a Jazz band and orchestra would be a dream come true.
Parlé Mag: One track of yours that you think defines you and why?
Skyzoo: Again, I could name dozens but if I had to pick one, I’d say “Langston’s Pen” from 2010. It gives you who I am, where I’m from, and why all of the above exists.
Parlé Mag: What’s next for Skyzoo?
Skyzoo: After Retropolitan is released, I’ll be touring the album worldwide, along with my usual writing work, and then, of course brainstorming my next LP for further down the line.
Parlé Mag: Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
Skyzoo: Shouts to the readers and listeners for their continued support, and shouts to you guys at Parlé for the love. Much appreciated indeed. As always, peace and love.
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