Skyzoo - A Dream Deferred

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"A Dream Deferred" finally confirms Bed-Stuy Sky's arrival as a fully-fleshed artist.

This one's on Chi-Ali. When the Native Tongue-associated child-rapper's "Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number" flashed up on Ralph McDaniel's Video Music Box show in 1991, it inspired a young Skyzoo to start rhyming himself. Two decades later, and after a series of mixtapes and worthy-if-not-spectacular albums, A Dream Deferred finally confirms Bed-Stuy Sky's arrival as a fully-fleshed artist.

From the outset of the album, Sky spits with a combination of power and finesse. After the melancholic opener, "Dreams In A Basement" plays something like an overture and sets out the concept for the project. The album punches into life with a series of sparky tracks. The brash and brassy 9th Wonder-produced "Jansport Strings" gives a respectful nod to the influence of Chi-Ali on his career (evidenced by the remix), but the ruggedly-wrought "Pockets Full" has Sky channelling the aura of an early-era O.C. in his prime as he spews out words with the fire and heart of a kid rapping on a Brooklyn block corner while also weaving in a broader and worldlier outlook. As he puts it himself later (on the stellar "How To Make It Through Hysteria"): "Seen it, jumped in and was lucky enough to believe it /Lived it, went and penned it/ And left the rest to the speakers/ Wrote it the way I know it/ You heard it, you saw me show it."

Skyzoo's sincerity as a rapper is shot through A Dream Deferred, but the album has a seamless musical charm. After the opening third (which is largely powered by !llmind's booming beats) the project morphs into a mid-section that delights like a woozy hip-hop lullaby: The tempo drops, the lyrics become more personal, and guest R&B vocalists are used intelligently, with Jessy Wilson, Raheem DeVaughn and Jared Evan adding a soothing touch to the run of "The Knowing," "Drew & Drewin," and "Realization." Then, somewhere between the synth-infused "The Rage Of Roemello" and the glorious "How To Make it..." comes the wake up call as the album enters the home-stretch with a string of rousing and euphoric tracks that overflow with soul and positive passion. Call this one a dream confirmed.


  • AR

    Great album. Skyzoo really delivered.

  • Jeffc

    Classic, quality hip hop in the modern era.

  • LeViis

    Banging. Skyzoo was always nice and this album shows his polish as an MC

  • ladoow1

    first off, who is kendrick? a sky's album is fiyah!

  • Siphiwe

    perfection, it was worth the wait.



  • youngvito79

    No entertainment value..

  • nanofcb

    this guy is great, listen to the album on spotify, and damn the production is really great and lyrics on point, 4.5/5

  • Ernest Charles III

    Great Cd, found it by mistake, I was looking up reviews for good kid mad city and seen that one of my favorite artists in Skyzoo just released a new album. I listened to the tracks on ITunes and new I had to buy it! It's definitely running neck for neck with good kid mad city, both great cd's...enjoy

  • Anonymous

    this was the first album he did that wasnt fully sample based, manly original beats/live instruments. watch this interview:

  • Dwes79

    I'm actually giving this album a 3-star rating because I don't see any effort from his main producer !llmind...Skyzoo always brings it, but, Jansports Strings is one of the few songs I can listen too..I was a little disappointed with this album...

  • badhalf

    Top marks... I can't find a flaw in this album... Props to Real HipHop

  • Big Liss

    Thanks for putting me on to this one! I'm coppin it for SURE!

  • MP

    While Skyzoo is a dope lyricist [without question], I can't even front...this album is boring as hell. I really wanted to feel this album, but Sky really doesn't switch his flow up @ all. Everything is almost too heavy-handed & some of the songs are way too long. The production really didn't hold my attention either [I'm not mad @ the live trumpets though]. I know Skyzoo has it in him to make a truly great album, but this album really didn't hold my attention.

  • harm4life

    i esp cant understand and keep wonderin about the people praisin this LP for the production, wtf?.. there is little or no descent beat combined with, friendly expressed, not more than average rapper.. 2/5 max.

  • harm4life

    i esp cant understand and keep wonderin about the people praisin this LP for the production, wtf?.. there is little or no descent beat combined, friendly expressed, not more than average rapper.. 2/5 max.

  • illone

    3.5 The Great Debaters >>> Theo vs JJ >= Cloud 9 >= LFTTD = The Salvation >>> Dreams Deferred (I refuse to count the 2 'true' mixtapes) I'm just glad I recently got Theo vs JJ. The middle of this CD is just so blah. The beats were slightly lacking this time around. Dope ---- Jansport Strings Pockets Full Steel's Apartment Spike Lee Nice ---------- Dreams in a Basement The Cost of Sleep Range Rover Rhythm Give It Up Tracks 5, & 7-11 should not have made the album. Track 7 may deserve a pass.

  • P

    Really decent album, Skyzoo has a very good ear when it comes to beat selection. Nice to see Tall Black Guy is on this...maybe people will stop sleeping on this dude, he's better than 90% of those 'producers' nowadays...if ur not really familiar with his music, check his bandcamp and you'll know what Im talking about.

  • S-Ro

    I been waiting years for this... the flow, the rhymes and the production.... the beats on this are crazy. If you like that Boom Bap shit, then THIS is your shit. 5 stars, easy. This and that BFK are what's hot right now. Real talk. ... and while I'm here, can we take .5 stars off the Lupe?

    • Daymean Lewis

      I def feeling that BFK too, I think The Kid Daytona could possibly be thrown in the mix "Summer Games" was clean cut mixtaoe

  • thewellversed

    "Celebrating the win/ Celebrate what it meant, Do remember and celebrate it again" The first lyrics recited by Skyzoo on his sophomore album not only set the tone for "A Dream Deferred", but put his whole career to this point in perspective. It's been three years since the release of his debut album "The Salvation". While the gap has left plenty of room for the Brooklyn lyricist to grow, the public has been fortunate enough to witness it firsthand through a series of critically acclaimed side projects released since that time span. Between a collaborative album with producer !llmind (Live From The Tape Deck), to "The Great Debater", and the more recent "Theo vs. JJ: Dreams vs. Reality" mixtapes, he has kept his fans satisfied as he placed the final touches on what could only be his most ambitious work to date. With the album completed, the Brooklyn lyricist attempts to connect the pieces between all of his projects in one grand effort. The album opens up with an excerpt from the movie "Fresh" that leads right into the introductory track "Dreams In A Basement." Produced by longtime collaborator !llmind, Skyzoo lyrically sets the scene over a smooth melody thats enhanced by the vocals of Jill Scott. For an opening track it's not as grandiose as one would expect sound wise, but works surprisingly well for the direction Sky chooses to take. Leading into the lead single of the album, "Jansport Strings (One Time for Chi-Ali)" has him embracing his Brooklyn roots in proud fashion. 9th Wonder provides the backdrop filled with the boastful sounds of trumpets and bass. While the song itself is track meant to reminisce, Sky is able to relate the tales of upbringing beyond the masses of his borough. It should be noted that lyrically Skyzoo has always been in a class all his own, but it's his ability to craft tales from a character perspective that deserves much more credit than it receives. "The Rage of Roemello" has him embodying the spirit of Roemello Skruggs, lead character of the movie "Sugar Hill". The parallels between the reality of his lyrics and that of the movie are interwoven forming an entirely unique perspective. This is also evident on "Steels Apartment", quite possibly the crown jewel of the album. Serving as an ode to the cult classic film "Juice", Sky one ups the concept by drawing inspiration from the ambitions and dreams the characters of that film all embodied in their own respective ways. Look no further than the reflectively triumphant chorus to fully appreciate this track. As much as one would love to praise the direction and conceptual choices made on this album, it isn't without it's missteps. The unimpressive "Give It Up" could have been left on the cutting floor, and the Raheem DeVaughn assisted "Drew & Derwin" is bearable depending on the listener. In any case these slight flaws don't diminish the strong points of the album one bit. "Range Rover Rhythm" is Skyzoo at his best, mixing street poetry with good life sensibilities. If there was ever a song that mainstream radio needed then this would be the one, as producer Jahlil Beats shows why he's one of the more sought after producers on the rise. In the past Skyzoo projects have often seem one dimensional in terms of not fully showing his versatility in terms of wide spread appeal. "The Knowing" rejects that notion, as Sky uses the track to seduce the opposite sex with a record that could also tap crossover recognition if given the right look. Of course the self-proclaimed "Writer of Writers" wouldn't be him if he didn't pay homage to one of his main inspirations with "Spike Lee Was My Hero." Together him and fellow Brooklyn Native Talib Kweli show their appreciation for the film icon while offering nostalgic perspectives on his more classic works. If there was ever any question of where Skyzoo could go as an artist, he proved that on his sophomore LP, there is no ceiling to what he can create. "A Dream Deferred" is an album filled with everything that long time fans have come to expect, while still remaining accessible for newer ones to embrace him. This record will probably have you listening to it repeatedly in an effort to decipher and catch every lyrical gem left here, and there in lies the true beauty. Skyzoo compiled an album that forces listeners to think, while he captures his dreams and realities for them to interpret in their own subjective ways. For that reason alone, he has shown that his efforts haven't gone to waste. Rating- 4.5/5

  • Eklipz'77

    In the current state of rap music, this is a perfect album.

  • Anonymous

    One of the best albums of the year, up there with Life is Good and Food and liquor 2.

  • Mike

    Not a bad album shows what dreams are really made of when you have the passion for what you do. Better than his first album I must say.

  • iStandardProducers

    Dreams In A Basement featuring Jill Scott (Produced by !llmind) A Dream Deferred kicks off with a smooth beat and boom-bap drums that fit Skyzoos vocals nicely. I like the vocal sample on the intro and Jill Scotts background harmonies on the second and third verses sound great and really give this song a true soulful feel. Also, I really think its dope how the drums drop on the chorus and the bell melodies on there fit nicely. I'm really digging the brass that comes in after the third verse as well as the extra strings; this track is very well orchestrated. Jansport Strings (Produced by 9th Wonder) This track has a soulful sample with brass and smooth vocal samples. The lyrics on here are really dope but after a little bit of listening I think itd be dope to hear more done with the sample in the track; personally Id really like to hear more of the vocal sample. Overall though this is a dope record, Id just like to hear a little more done on the production. Pockets Full featuring Freeway (Produced by !llmind) The soulful bell melody on Pockets Full with the hard hip-hop drums goes nicely with Skyzoo and Freeway's voices and lyrics. This track has a real smooth ride-out feel to it. The concept on here is dope too and is far from being a typical baller track. At first I wasn't really feeling the brass on the outro of this song but then all of the pieces of the track come together in a nice jazzy-sounding orchestra. Give It Up featuring DJ Prince (Produced by !llmind) Give It Up has 808 snares throughout and lots of dope changes in the production that I could go on about for a while. I honestly wasn't feeling this track entirely at first until it built up to the chorus and then I really fell in love with it. The changes on the chorus here are really great and help give the song a really dope head nodding feel that will make you want to move. If youre not feeling Give It Up at first, make sure you give it a chance as it definitely would make a dope club banger and performance record that stays true to Skyzoos essence of hip-hop flavour. Glass Ceilings (Produced by !llmind) I love the go-hard motivational vibe of this song. The synths/brass on here with the drums will make you feel like you can take over the world and will really get you hyped up. The anthem sounding verses transition to a very smooth and melodic chorus and it all sounds great in the process of doing so. On a side note, I could really hear Lupe Fiasco featuring on here for a remix. Range Rover Rhythm (Produced by Jahlil Beats) Skyzoo sounds great on this beat that at some points sounds dark and grimy but also manages to keep a modern soulful vibe at the same time (especially on the chorus). The change ups on here are great and flow perfectly, especially the melodic brass melody on the chorus. With dope drum patterns to match the instruments, Range Rover Rhythm sounds great to me and the production on it almost reminds me of a less dark sounding Triple Beam Dreams by Rick Ross. The Knowing featuring Jessy Wilson (Produced by Eric G) Im loving the ambient sounding production on this song, especially the synths/pads in the background that build up with smooth brass and vocal harmonies. The percussion on here just builds on the smooth and jazzy feel of the song to make it sound full and complete. Jessy Wilson does a great job on the chorus as well as the background vocals and breakdown. This is a great song to me that has a very smooth and laid back feel to it. Drew & Derwin featuring Raheem DeVaughn (Produced by Focus...) Drew & Derwin builds nicely off of the outro skit from The Knowing and does so perfectly. The smooth and catchy synths on this track compliment Skyzoo and Raheems vocals nicely. This is definitely the love making song off of the album and it works nicely for that type of concept without being corny. Realization featuring Jared Evan (Produced by DJ Khalil) I'm a big fan of Jared Evans work so I had to make sure I stayed unbiased when reviewing this song but this is definitely dope. Smooth strings with matching drum patterns make for a dope record with a really laid back and almost futuristic feel to it on the chorus. The melodies and harmonies on here sound great and help gives this song a grown up and classic sound to it, especially with Jared Evan on the chorus. I also like the use of a few vocal samples from other hip-hop songs on here. The Rage of Roemello (Produced by DJ Khalil) This song has a very smooth and poetic feel to it that I really enjoyed and will definitely be replaying a few times to make sure I catch everything in the lyrics. The production on here is great and fits the overall smooth and jazzy feel of the album. Skyzoo continues to keep up with dope concepts and I really enjoy where he went with this song. All over the production here is really dope from the concept to the actual instrumentation and percussion. How to Make It Through Hysteria (Produced by Best Kept Secret) How To Make It Through Hysteria finds Skyzoo celebrating his success of making it through hysteria over some very dope production. The drums here have a head-nodding vibe and the strings, brass and guitars fit very nicely and almost have a menacing sound to them. The brass and string melodies on the chorus as well as the chorus lyrics themselves are very catchy and dope. One of my favourite parts of this song is when the drums drop out and the production changes up to find Skyzoo slowing his delivery to almost a spoken word style until the song gradually fades out. Steels Apartment (Produced by Black Milk) After hearing this song I'm really starting to appreciate a lot of the concepts on this album, especially the movie and TV show based references such as this one (think of Juice). The actual beat production here is laid back and cool but it doesn't stand out to me by itself. Regardless, the beat here works really well for the song and the concept and lyrics are dope and more than enough to hold my attention. Spike Lee Was My Hero featuring Talib Kweli (Produced by Tall Black Guy) Spike Lee Was My Hero has a consistent brass sample throughout with some boom-bap sounding production. I like this song as a whole but the beat itself is simple and at some points can get repetitive. The concept here is dope and original and I also really enjoyed the pianos that came in at the end of this song (although it may have been more interesting to hear the pianos throughout the song as well). The Cost of Sleep (Produced by Tall Black Guy) This song gradually grew one me, especially as other sounds came into the track as it built up to the chorus but at first I wasn't really feeling the main synths and strings (mainly the detuned sound of them). The Cost of Sleep is dope lyrically and conceptually and also works nicely as an ending song to the album. I really thought it was dope how the beat changed up towards to the end with a filter being used and then the brass coming in but it took time to grow on me. A Dream Deferred is mostly a very smooth sounding album that fans of lyrical and original hip-hop music will enjoy. I really enjoyed the concepts and lyrics on this album and most of the production was truly rock solid. Although at some points I did feel the production could have been stronger, I think every beat on the album worked well for each song and there was no generic sounding or copycat production either. Overall I give A Dream Deferred a rating of 4 out of 5 because I think the concepts of the songs (and the album as a whole) really are dope and as a fan of hip-hop music that is something I really appreciate. I also think the album was pretty well balanced in terms of not being too laid back to the point that you want to fall asleep but there are a few songs I might skip over after a few listens, mainly because of the production. On a side note, I think itd be cool to hear more experimental records like Give It Up from Skyzoo in the future.

  • p

    3.5/5 for me I wasn't into that whole section from tracks 6-9, the rest was straight. As of now Dreams In A Basement and Spike Lee Was My Hero are my favorites.

  • The Ice Cold Phenom

    I'm going 4.5 stars for this album. Skyzoo is probably the most underrated and underappreciated artist in the game. The production for this album is diverse and the lyrics are crisp with thought provoking and meaningful versus. As the whole artist (lyrics, beat selection, subject matter, and depth of content) Skyzoo is top 3 in the game. Skyzoo is the new age Jay-Z but with more substance in his lyrics. Dude's rhyme patterns are insane dope!

  • datnigga

    "8 people have voted" Really? I didn't even know Skyzoo had 8 fans. Same boring monotone music from sky. I know the underground nerds eat this stuff up though. Nobody is doubting the man's lyrics, but he sucks at actually making good music and writing good songs. Sounds the same on every track. I'll just wait for Kendrick's album and leave this one to his hipster stanbase that hate anything mainstream just because it's mainstream. I swear some of yall act like anyone underground is automatically dope just cuz they underground. Yawn

    • Alteez

      I'm pretty sure Kendrick is far more "Hipster" than Skyzoo will ever be. Go listen to some beats that Hit Boy made in his mom's basement douche bag.

    • I Pity You

      @datnigga and you make an assumption about people knowing fuck all. So for your information, yes I am a big Skyzoo fan but I don't like to look at music as divided between mainstream & underground I choose to divide it between good & bad. So I'm a fan of Eminem, Kanye West & Kendrick Lamar but also love Brother Ali, Blu & Oddisee. Also putting Kendrick's name in there like your living vicariously through him. No bitch, you can't escape the fact that Skyzoo the same dude you bagged on has more talent in his little toe nail than you will ever have...

    • Anonymous

      Hooray for you...

  • drmmrchnt

    how do you literally say only positive things about an album and then only give it a 4/5? 4.5 at the very minimum if your not going to say there wasnt even a single song that disapointed or didnt fit well with the concept and flow of the album. sky's the most underlooked guy who has mainstream appeal but also keeps lyrics real.

  • J. Holmes

    Dream Deferred > BFK

  • That nukka

    Near perfect,actually compared to most hip hop releases this year this is perfect. No glam, no shiny suit raps, no nursery rhymes

  • phuckyall

    very well written and produced album by Skyzoo. 4.5/5 top 10 this year imo

  • Chicago Rilla

    S-K-Y-Z-O-O, Dope album, 4/5 is right on point but the beats could have been better. I like that he's shining the light on unknown Producers from my city like Tall Black Guy who's been dope for years

  • yo, straight up

    I am not a fan of Skyzoo in any way... but I have to say, this is a really strong album, his best IMO. 4/5 is well-deserved here.

  • Alteez

    This album realistically deserves a 4.5-5. I agree with what !llmind said on Twitter; XXL should have given the lyrics on this album a XXL, not an XL. The production on this album is amazing, and 99% of it is all original - very few samples. Damn near a perfect record. Tighten how you listen folks.

  • ShaunMc82

    My album of 2012 so far and definitely in my top 10 of all time from any genre.

  • soulculture

    A Dream Deferred is hip-hop in its purest form. One of this years most refined releases, the album plays like an autobiographical hopscotch. Jumping back and forth between subject matters and personal experiences, Skyzoo is at his best when dropping knowledge on those more interested in hearing the real instead of imagining the fake. The Radio Raheem of hip-hop, music runs through Skyzoo's veins like cocaine does a drug addict. Hes not in it for the dollars. Hes in it for the love. Hes in it for the culture. Hes an endangered species amongst the new breed who only see money and power. However, endangered species are often the ones that impress the masses the most when given the chance. This instance proves no different. Opening with what can only be described as a beautiful piece of music forget hip-hop for a second, were talking music as a whole Dreams In A Basement is instrumentally one of the most delicate records this side of the past five years. Lyrically Skyzoo takes it to a place of witty wordplay without the use of arrogance. Dreaming of his future with destiny on his side he spits, My attempt be everything the rent be/ Call it hand to hand but the hand cant be empty/ So I was in the basement sparring with complacency. Not forgetting the angelic sounds of Jill Scotts vocals which interrupt each verse to lay down a hook, if you listen closely you can even hear her sing some eerily attractive underlining ad libs. Not afraid to admit that hes a fan, Skyzoo directly and indirectly dedicates some of the tracks featured on A Dream Deferred to a chosen few who inspired him as a youngster. While the Talib Kweli featured Spike Lee Was My Hero is an obvious ode to the famous film director, lead single Jansport Strings (One Time For Chi-Ali) is a shout out not only to the sporting and hiking accessory used to secure items to bags and belts alike, but also recently freed Bronx rapper Chi-Ali. Skyzoo has always maintained that the reason he raps today is because of Chi-Ali, and what better way is there to show your appreciation than jumping on a 9th Wonder beat to acknowledge your importance? With so many stand out joints its hard to pinpoint individual moments that make this, Skyzoos second album, the solid musical offering that it is. The Jahlil Beats produced Range Rover Rhythm would be a good start. Acting as a great platform for the BK representative to spit non-stop like an assault rifle on, his wordplay and breathing skills are put to the test when winding in and out of the instrumental. The way in which the horns nestle in to the beat is somewhat organic. Its as if the beat grew in to itself with no external guidance. On this occasion perfection is easily achieved. Other ear pleasing joints come in the form of the Juice inspired Steels Apartment, complete with Tupac opening sample, and the Freeway assisted Pockets Full; the latter of which hears a hungry ex-Roc-A-Fella Records alumni going in to the point that if the two emcees ever decided to make a collaborative album based upon this hook up then hip-hop would definitely be in a better place. The only criticisms Skyzoo faces with the release of this album is the fact that the closing record, The Cost Of Sleep, is in no way, shape, or form an album closer the album just sort of ends with no fanfare, and the poor track choice with regards to Give It Up, which hears an attempt at meshing a dubstep synth with hip-hop drums fail. As an album, A Dream Deferred is a satisfying thirst quencher for the hip-hop fiend missing the boom-bap golden era. As an artist, Skyzoo gets better and better as each year passes with complicated rhyme patterns and structured choruses to boot. Theres absolutely no need to put off this dream because its the type that you wont want to wake up from.