Skyzoo’s A Dream Deferred takes listeners through a scintillating story of one’s come up, climax of success and and struggle to maintain it—all via the skilled rhymes and stellar narration from the Brooklyn MC. With production from the likes of !llmind, 9th Wonder, Jahlil Beats and DJ Khalil, the album accomplishes a smooth, yet almost cinematic feel. The implementation of live instrumentation from pianists, violinists and horn players only add to the hip-hop, yet jazzy vibe.
On the hook to the heralded “Jansport Strings,” Sky uses the popular schoolboy’s backpack ornaments to compare himself to 1990s rapper Chi Ali, whose prominence crashed when he had to serve a 12-year prison sentence for murder. “One time up for Chi Ali/’Cause I could be in a box if it ain’t see that screen/My mama prayed that I wouldn’t be Chi Ali/Now my mama straight ’cause I wanted to be Chi Ali/They say my Jansport strings was tying it all together/My Jansport strings was tying it all together,” Sky raps.
The poignancy and cinematic feel continues, as the New York native does a great job of detailing the stages of success—a la “Range Rover Rhythm”—but also the fight to keep one’s mind right, as heard on “How to Make It Through Hysteria.” “Spike Lee Was My Hero” has Sky and Talib Kweli trading conscious bars on why the famed Brooklyn movie director was a great role model to the kids coming up in the Borough of Kings.
While Sky’s last album, The Salvation, centered around temptation and making decisions, this project explores what happens when those decisions are made. A Dream Deferred? More like a dream that came to life. An good sound only got better on this LP with Sky flashing a keen ear for beats. That, and an already established lyricist managed to still turn up a notch. What more can fans ask for? Skyzoo got himself a winner with this album. —Mark Lelinwalla