Ten, complete and classic are just a few words that come to mind when I think about Live from the Tape Deck by Skyzoo and !llmind (pronounced Illmind). I almost forgot about Live From the Tape Deck because there are so many great albums out right now and I'm always discovering new music. I was talking with a neighbor of mine about music that I've picked up lately and he jogged my memory. I had this album in my mental list of albums to grab and it almost forgot about it. I won't (almost) forget again....believe me.
Part of Duckdown's underclassmen, Skyzoo has really developed as an mc and writer. He didn't lack creativity or skill on The Salvation, but I can hear comfort, confidence and progress in his delivery and substance. His first album, The Salvation was a great introduction to his unique style of writing, and as he puts it, "I write a little different." His lyrical style is unique and he is a great storyteller. Live from the Tape Deck is a great album from front to back. Did I already say that?
At times the album has a classic 90's feel and Skyzoo brings his distinct and vivid descriptions to great production by !llmind. The name, Live From the Tape Deck hints toward the cassette tape, an audio format twice removed in hip hop (cd and now mp3).
I have to admit that this is the first time I have heard of !llmind. The production of the album is mostly electric , boom bap and always skillful. I will be looking into more of his music and keep an eye out for anything else he puts out. Metal, boom bap, electric, bass heavy, driving or lounging, soulful, dusty, up or down tempo, anthem or contemplative music are ways that I would explain the music produced by !llmind on Live from the Tape Deck. He has worked with a lot of respected mc's and I have no idea how I haven't noticed his name until now. Some of the artists that !llmind has worked with are Sean Price, Eminem, 50 Cent, now Skyzoo, Little Brother, Boot Camp Click, Redman, LL Cool J, Talib Kweli and more.
If creative lyrics and sick beats aren't enough reason to go and pick up this album, there are solid featured artists and classic samples from movies like Do The Right Thing and they the duo even uses audio from LeBron James' announcements that "he's bringing his talents to South Beach". I wonder what Paul Pierce has to say about that..... ;) Some of the featured artists are Heltah Skeltah, Styles P, Buckshot and Torae. They didn't have to stray too far from Duckdown for these featured mc's, but they all deliver strong bars.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and talk about hip hop in general for just a minute. The internet changed the world and hip hop as well. For such a young genre, hip hop responded pretty well. I don't listen to the radio and I refuse to watch MTV or BET, but am I missing something? There arent enough ways to tell you how I'm not missing ANYTHING. I started the slow process of unplugging back in 1992. I heard Das EFX, Rakim, Jeru tha Damaja, Gangstarr, Redman, De La Soul and a lot more artists that didn't dance for the camera in hammerpants. It's not that commercial rap from the 90's didn't contribute to development of the culture; because it did. But commercial rap didn't expand my understanding of what art or individuality was and it definitely didn't make me see the potential of hip hop to offer something to everyone. Commercial rap also doesn't connect me to a culture that was locally created and worldwide celebrated. There is little room for originality in commercial rap and that's why I don't listen to it. So, if Andre 300 wants to get funky in a white wig and cowboy boots, I don't care as long as he makes music like Outkast's ATLiens, Stankonia, Aquemini or any other Outkast album. Outkast has sold a few albums too. So when it comes down to it, it's not about if an artist sells a million copies in a day or if they just dropped a free mixtape and they are just trying to get the word out so they can get their family out of the gutter. I can respect both, but the most important thing to me is if I am hearing talented people be creative and produce high quality music (or not). For all of these reasons, I will only write about albums that I like, respect and/or connect to. There is enough great music out there to keep me busy for years and I wouldn't waste my time if I didn't think it was worth yours.
Featured Track Langston's Pen is an amazing track that closes off a classic album. You are left hungry for more at the end and it happens for two reasons. First, if you listen to the album from track 1 to track 12, you have just had a high dosage of creativity. Second, you are left hungry for more because the psychology of having no verses and the way Skyzoo's lyrics take you to dawn with a soft fade forces you to want more. If you haven't read Langston Hughes, then I suggest that you look into that as well.
[audio:http://ra-nyc.com/boywithstick/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/12-skyzoo_and_illmind-langstons_pen-ftd.mp3|titles=Track 12 Langston's Pen]
Digital Analog, Frisbees, The Burn Notice, (featuring Heltah Skeltah), Speakers on Blast, #AllAboutThat, Barrel Brothers (featuring Torae), The Winners Circle, Krylon, Kitchen Table, The Now Or Never (featuring Styles P & Buckshot), Langston's Pen