Skyzoo Interview

– Sitting here with Skyzoo. What’s up with that name? How did you come up with that?
The name came from my real name. My middle name is Skyler, so my family, my parents, everybody in my whole life call me Skyler or Sky for short. When I was born in ’82, there was a disco group out, from Brooklyn as well, named Skyy, but they spelled their name with two Y’s. And they had a song out called Skyzoo, it was a big disco record. It was one of the biggest disco records in the early 80’s. The song was real big on the radio, so my family, my parents and my cousins and everyone, started singing it to me as a baby cause the name of the song was similar to my name. So when I started rhyming it sorta stuck. It became a little nickname as a kid. Even if I never rhymed, I’d still be Skyzoo as an inside family thing. I just kept it as opposed to coming up with some name, taking a name from some gangster movie or something stupid like that. I just roll with what was already there.

– 6 mixtapes, 1 EP and still no debut album.
Yeah well, you know, I am just out here putting it in. They say you get out what you put in. Plus I figured, the more work I put in now, the more I get out of it later. The fruit of the labor will be that much sweeter you know what I mean. My thing is I’m gonna get heard and get known and build my fan base up and give that support to my fans the same way they support me, regardless. Deal or no deal, whatever the case may be. And it’s not really a lack of begging or forcing me to get a deal, I am at a point right now that I’m choosing who I wanna go with. Everyday we taking meetings and setting things up, we’re basically just choosing where we wanna go.

– You’re not signed.
No I am not signed to a major right now.

– So you do everything yourself?
Yeah, me and my team. Me and my manager, my team around me that I grew up with, I got all of them with me. I am just building this up, in-house. I feel like the more you build it up, the more you’re worth. The more bargaining and leverage you have at the table. I;m gonna make music, get it out there, give my fans, the people, what they want. Which is something they never had before and just do it, regardless of what it is.

– When did you release your first mixtape?
My first mixtape? That was in 2002. That was a long time ago.

– That was 5 years ago. Like I said before, 6 mixtapes…and when did you started working with all these big names?
That sorta happened…..I wanna say in 2005 is when that started to happen. Cause I linked up with the Justus League, Khrysis, 9th wonder, Little Brother and all of them. And for the record, I am not in the League. A lot of people think I am, but it’s not like that at all. It’s like extended family. They look out for me, I look out for them whatever the case may be. I am not in the Justus League or Hall of Justus at all. I got my own situation and I’m building. But I linked up with them in ’05, like early ’05 through Chaundon and we just built a relationship, like a sorta second family relationship. I started working with Khrysis and 9th and that was sort of the first co-sign, give or take, whereas once I was working with somebody like 9th or with somebody from the League, all of the League, of their calibur, it made people be like “Wow, if he is working with them, he must be something.” And once people heard that it was a wrap. So from there i was able to work with DJ Premier, Black Milk and Illmind, Scram Jones, Don Cannon and Needlz, Buckwild, you name em, I worked with the majority of them. So that’s how it started.

– What I wonder is, all the names you’ve mentioned is a lot more than I knew, what holds you back from the album? Is it creativity? Or you just wanna put out something solid? Cause with all those names, if you’ve done songs with all of them, I figure you could have put out even 2 albums already.
Right. Well to me, my debut album is already done in my head. That’s the way I look at it.

– Salvation?
Yeah Salvation. What I really gotta do is sit down and write it and put it together. In my head it’s done. I know exactly what I want it to feel like, sound like, look like, even smell like. I know what I want this whole thing to be.

– You also already know what producers are going to be on there?
Yeah I already started slowly collecting beats. Black Milk is definitely on there a couple of times, 9th wonder is on there a couple of times, certain people. But in my mind I know exactly what I want it to sound like. I know what I want it to be and I even know what I want the promo campaign to be and where I wanna go with it, the direction of it. So it’s really just about the major and doing it, cause I feel like I really want that major look. I could easily do an indie right now, with all the producers that I have, all the connects that I have, all the websites and people like you guys at ML75, supporting the things like that. I could do it easily right now. But I feel I want that major push behind it cause there is something I wanna say in my music, that I wanna get out there. And if you can only get it to a hand full of ears, then was it ever really said? I appreciate everyone that has supported me up to this point, and I want y’all to keep supporting me while I go grab more supporters, so the crowd will be even bigger. So when you standing at a Skyzoo show, it’s not 2000, its 20.000. Y’all are all there for the same reason, for the same purpose, and that’s to hear the best music heard in years. There’s a message I wanna get out in my music, a story that I wanna tell and I want as many ears as possible to grab that story.

– Are you looking for a deal with a certain label?
My whole thing is the creativity. I am a real creative person and I’m hands on with everything from my photoshoot to my artwork, to my website, to my promo, to my interviews, to the singles that go out, the way my records sound, the way they mixing everything. I am hands on with everything. And I still want that when I go to a major. A lot of times when you go to a major and they hand you that check, you sort of hand over that creative freedom. They give you that good check and they say, in time with this you gonna dress like this, you gonna do this, your website is gonna look like this, we gonna change your logo. I’m not with that. I don’t want that. There’s nothing to be bargaining, it’s compromising. There’s give and take in any relationship, but I want that creative leverage, I want the creative control. If you believe in me, enough to sign me and give me this big check and want me to make this music for you, you should really believe in me for a 100% yo.

– So what if it takes another, say 3 years, before you get a deal where you don’t have to sell out yourself, your creative freedom? The fans want the debut album to come out too.
Right. Definitely. I mean I wake up every morning thinking about my album. Every night when I go to sleep I think about it and every morning I think about it when I wake up. I don’t see it as being 3 years, God forbid it is. But if it is, it’s all part of God’s plan.

– Are you gonna keep pushing mixtapes in the meantime?
Definitely. Regardless, I’m always gonna have music out. I’m not gonna get lost in the shuffle. I’m never gonna be forgotten about, cause one of the hardest things to do, is get a buzz. And once you get that buzz, if you lose it, the hardest thing to do is getting it back.

– That’s why I gave the example of 3 years. You got a buzz right now and there are a lot of new artists coming up. You don’t wanna get lost in that.
Right, it’s about not stopping. And that’s why it’s about putting out more projects. It’s about putting out more music. It’s about doing more shows, staying active regardless. So it could be a year, 2 years, 3 years, whatever it is, it won’t feel like it. It will feel like a couple of months cause the music was always relevant. I was always on every website with that new music and that I always had tapes out. So it’s about staying in the eye.

– You’re buzz is pretty big right now. Even though you don’t have an album out, everybody in the industry knows you. You got thrive off of this already with shows and all. You’ve been in XXL a million times already.
Haha, yeah I think I’ve been in XXL 7 times in 2007 alone. As well as I had a featured story in 2006 as well. I’ve been in Scratch Magazine, I’ve been in the Source, I’ve been in Vibe. Hot 97 named me one of the top 10 MC’s alive.

– Oh yeah that’s right. How did that make you feel?
Amazing. The way it started, they had a list of 25 people and I think I was the only unsigned artist on the list of 25. And from the 25, they had the fans to go online and vote and poll and call in, to say who would be the top 10 out of that 25. And just being on that 25 list alone was great. Cause the names on there were Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, Andre 3000, Jadakiss, Lil Wayne. Some of the biggest people ever. My name being amongst those, was amazing at itself. So I was like, even if I’m not in the top 10, I’m good. I made this 25, I’m good. And then they announced the top 10 a week later and I came in number 7. I was like “Wow.” That means there are 3 people up there that are huge lyricists and whatever, who I am over. That blew me away. These are people that I grew up on, people that I sorta take from in my music as far as being influenced by. You had people like Nas on the list and Eminem, Saigon was on the list. There were a lot of different people on that list that are my peers, and some of them are people that I looked up to. So it was huge. I mean, top 10 MC’s alive, the only unsigned MC on the list, that’s huge.

– You have your own entertainment company. Are you gonna do something with that? Besides the debut album, you just explained how that is. In the meantime you got your other projects, as far as the other end of your entertainment company is concerned, the tv show and all.
Well, with all of that, there are a lot of different things. I am a real creative person. I came up as a writer. I was an english major when I was in college. I didn’t finish college but I went briefly and I was an english major. I always did better in m english classes throughout school even as a little kid. So I’m a real creative person, I am always writing, coming up with ideas, trying to develop things, stuff like that. I got a couple of ideas I wanna do now, as far as little indie films and things like that. I got this show right now but I don’t really talk about it as much. I got this concept for a tv show that I wanna build, after the album comes out. Once the album comes out and I have that leverage, God willing it’s a success story and everything like that.

– A reality show?
No, not at all. You know TV is anything but reality, it’s all scripted, people hired and all. But I got this idea for a show that I wanna create, that I wanna put out and it’s something that’s gonna mean as much to the culture as the music itself. It’s gonna mean as much to our culture and our people and what we do as far as hiphop and everything with that. It’s not a hiphop show per se, but it’s just this huge idea that I have. And I’m developing it, almost as much as I’m developing the album. So there’s a lot going on in my mind.

– I see you staying busy. Ok, what about shows. Again, you got no album out, you’ve got mixtapes, your own original stuff on there. Do you build your shows on that? You do shows with other people like a support act, or you got your own shows lined up?
As far as my performances, a lot of stuff comes every day, I log onto the Space or different emails and things like that. People book me all the time. “Can you come out to Atlanta? Can you come out to LA?” Come out to overseas or whatever the case may be.

– You been overseas already?
Not yet, but I get those hits. And I am definitely trying to go, so it’s all about it getting set up right cause I don’t know anyone overseas. Now I know you. I never had the chance to do that cause I never knew anyone over there besides the fans.

– Plus you are still grinding over here (USA). You gotta stay focused and branch it out.
Exactly. But I am so not opposed to going overseas and doing different shows.

-You got your passport already?
Oh yeah, I am good to go. My passport game is ready, we good.

– If you could link up with say people from the Justus League, I think it would make a good European tour.
Yeah I am down to hit the road with whoever. Even if it’s not with one of them, I will come out there with whoever else.

-Anything you wanna shout out to your fans overseas?
I just wanna say I appreciate the love, thank you so much. And being over here in America, a lot of people take things for granted. As far as the fans, people with the culture. That’s why everything is so “Here today, Gone today” type mentality over here. Overseas you guys appreciate it and respect it a lot more. Because it’s not in your face everyday. You can walk down the street in New York and run into any rapper.

– Like I did now.
Hahaha yeah. But you might not be able to do that overseas so much. So I think when you guys see it, you appreciate it so much more. And in return, I appreciate that. I think a lot of artists over here feel the same way. So thank you so much for all the support y’all give me and everything y’all do to hold us down with this hiphop music and everything like that. Y’all are fans and we couldn’t do it without y’all. I appreciate every single one of y’all listening, logging on, buying products, downloading, whatever it may be, I appreciate it all.

– I hope you stay that appreciative. Right now you are upcoming and grinding hard. I can see you are very humble now. It would be a shame if you forget where you came from.
See I could never do that. Growing up in Brooklyn, coming where I am coming from, nobody makes it.

– But a lot of artists came where you come from.
I mean, my neighborhood, the conditions that we come up from, you’re not expected to do much. So when you are able to do something and touch people and be out there, it means something. I am always gonna stay humble, I’m always gonna remember everyone who didn’t make it, when I was the one chosen to make it. I’m always gonna be the type to give back. And I don’t think my family or my crew, would ever let me get “too big” you know what I mean. No matter what, no matter how much money I make, no matter how big of a success story I am, they always gonna keep me grounded. In the booth, I am the cockiest person alive, but when I step out of the booth, I’m Skyler. In the booth I am Skyzoo the super rapper, I’m better than everybody breathing. But when I am out of the booth I am Skyler from Brooklyn and thank you very much. And that’s me.

– Thank you for the interview.
No doubt, thank you.