Touch the Sky: Rapper Skyzoo reaches out to his hometown audience • Brooklyn Paper

Touch the Sky: Rapper Skyzoo reaches out to his hometown audience

Sky’s the limit: Rising Bedford-Stuyvesant rapper Skyzoo has played shows across the world, but he is thrilled for a set in his “backyard” at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival on July 11.
Joey Amandola

There is no place like home.

The 11th Annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival starting on July 8 will feature performances from big names like Common and Mobb Deep. But for rapper Skyzoo, the excitement is not who he performs with, but who he will be performing for. The native Brooklynite and Bedford-Stuyvesant lifer says that although he is a veteran of tours abroad, he wants nothing more than to rap to his hometown.

“I headline in Europe and Africa like clockwork every year, but this is the crib, this is the back yard,” Skyzoo said. “I’ve performed as a guest on other people but I still wanted that 20 or 30 minutes to kill for the crib.”

Skyzoo, whose new studio album came out on June 23, grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant during the worst of the crack epidemic. But that was also a golden era of hip-hop, and he came from the same streets that launched the likes of Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z. For a young rapper, a better pedigree is hard to find.

“Brooklyn is looked at as having the best of the best,” said Skyzoo. “It’s kind of in the culture, it’s embedded in your body.”

His new album “Music For My Friends,” deals with the crossroads at which Skyzoo and his friends found themselves as teens on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, when they would sit on stoops and cast envious looks at the big shots rolling by in fancy cars. Some of his friends tried to achieve success by rapping or going to law school, while others began selling drugs and became ensnared in violence.

“You would see the guy in the Jeep Wrangler or the Benz and you’d start to inquire, ‘How do I get that?’ ” he said. “That’s where things went in separate directions for people.”

The borough may have changed since he started rapping, but Skyzoo said he is still excited about the hip-hop scene in Brooklyn. The borough is teeming with long-time emcees like himself and his friend and frequent collaborator Torae, as well young stars like Joey Bada$$, whose Pro-Era crew has rocketed to national attention in the last several years.

Skyzoo said he and other Brooklyn artists are working hard to keep old-school Brooklyn alive while also leaving their own legacies.

“There’s a lot of different sounds from a lot of different people, but I think everyone shares kind of the same aesthetic,” he said. “I’m just about how we handle ourselves as Brooklyn artists. If you’re really into the art, you gotta make it stick, and all of us have to keep that in mind.”

Skyzoo performs at 2 pm on July 11 at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival Finale Concert (50 Kent Ave. between N. 11th and N. 12th streets in Williamsburg, www.bkhiphopfestival.com). $60.

Other Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival events begin July 8 at various locations. For more info, visit www.bkhiphopfestival.com.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

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