Skyzoo has always had an affinity for jazz. Mr. Taylor is a fan of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, and even performed alongside a live band inside New York’s famed The Blue Note Jazz Club during 2015’s Music For My Friends album release party. Now, his six-song collaboration with Italian jazz band Dumbo Station seamlessly melds reflective, confident lyricism with rainy-day rhythms for a smooth-yet-stalwart listen.
“Legends don’t never die, they just get to reflect,” Skyzoo declares over melancholy keys and complementary drums on the opening record “The Caveat.” While Sky is not a legend in the sense of his former Brooklyn neighbor The Notorious B.I.G., he has the longevity and body of work to stand on a pedestal as a formidable veteran who can toast to his success while reflecting on the road he took to get here. He does so on The Bluest Note without ever losing focus on what made him who he is: “Pure intentions from the door and 20/20 aim.”
This ethos permeates the EP, from the bouncy “Good Enough Reasons” to the victory lap that is “There It Goes.” The former sums up Skyzoo’s journey in two brilliant bars: “I’m familiar where the pocket of the beat is/Like my friends is familiar with the precinct.” That he avoided the trappings of the streets by taking the mic less breathed on is well known by now, but the sentiment fits well on a project that serves as a meditation (especially in these quarantined times) as much as it does experimenting.
Sky has always chosen production he can weave through effortlessly, and The Bluest Note is no exception. His chemistry with Dumbo Station is cool and fluid, and there is enough variation to keep the music from sounding redundant or simply complimentary. The drums appealingly move in spasms on “There It Goes,” while “Give and Take” has a crime-flick groove that somehow gels with its love-affair content. “We (Used To) Live In Brooklyn, Baby” is very similar to the content that dominated Sky and Pete Rock’s Retropolitan, but Dumbo Station keeps things fresh with a vibe that’s distinctly different from Rock’s production.
The Bluest Note maintains a consistent feel throughout its brief duration, with a musical mood as stoic and low-key as its MC. However, one would have hoped for some livelier notes on this EP. Sky has already proven he can rise to the occasion for hyped-up tracks with songs such as “Return of the Real” and “The Hand Off” with his Barrel Brother, Torae. The project could have left the pocket on a few joints to provide some much-needed energy à la Kenny G’s epic saxophone solo on Kanye West’s “Use This Gospel.” A lack of flare prevents the overall product from having a more engaging feel.
Sky’s Achilles’ heel has always been his hooks, which often are just repetitions of his song titles. This practice slightly hinders “Good Enough Reasons,” but works to the advantage of “There It Goes” and “Give and Take.” The most poignant refrain, however, is on the album closer “Sing Comfortably.” “If you should ever hit a note out of love for me, just sing comfortably,” he expresses, shining a light on the emotional bond forged over more than a decade between him ́and his core fans.
Skyzoo is primarily known for his technical prowess, but “Sing Comfortably” is further proof that he can be just as adept at tugging at the heartstrings. It’s this value that has given him staying power, one he celebrates here with the same thoughtfulness he’s displayed throughout his career. Though not as impactful as it could have been, The Bluest Note stands as both a testament to Skyzoo’s lasting excellence and the strong bond between jazz and Hip Hop.