Skyzoo Details Creating Jay Z Tribute "An Ode To Reasonable Doubt"
Exclusive: The Brooklyn emcee says the idea was sparked after Elzhi released his Nas tribute album, "ELmatic."
Brooklyn-emcee Skyzoo released his latest project, An Ode To Reasonable Doubt, yesterday (December 4). The offering is a tribute to Jay Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, and is produced by Philadelphia composer Antman Wonder. Rather than add new verses to the original production, Skyzoo and Antman Wonder borrowed the samples used on the classic album and then recreated them through orchestral arrangements.
“People hit me wanting me to do that,” Skyzoo says. “People said, ‘Hey, Elzhi did Nas ‘cause he’s like a Nas guy. You’re a Jay Z guy. You should do Reasonable Doubt.’ I didn’t want to do it the way El did it because he used the band and it came out really dope. I didn’t just want to piggyback that. So it was either flip the samples that [Jay Z] did with a new producer and instead of doing all of that, I found my man Antman Wonder and he pretty much replayed the beats, but with the orchestras. So it’s kind of like if you went to go and see the album replayed at Carnegie Hall or something. That’s how the vibe is.”
Although Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt included 14 tracks, An Ode To Reasonable Doubt only includes nine songs. The “Speakers On Blast” artist says he chose to only redo the songs that sounded best with an orchestral arrangement.
“I didn’t do ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ because as great as that record is and as great as that beat is, I didn’t think it made sense from an orchestral standpoint,” he says. “It would’ve sound forced. It would’ve sounded too much. The same thing with the Foxy Brown record [‘Ain’t No Nigga’], the same thing with ‘Cashmere Thoughts’—those records I didn’t do.”
One record Antman Wonder and Skyzoo decided to include was “Coming Of Age.” Titled “Conversing on Coming Up,” the song features a guest verse from Diizco, who is an artist on Skyzoo’s FGR imprint. But instead of recreating Jay Z and Memphis Bleek’s conversation—which was from the perspective of a drug dealer and a nascent drug dealer—Skyzoo approached the song from the position as a mentor in the music industry.
“What I did with the record was I put a spin on it where I put it in a Hip Hop standpoint as far as being an artist and being in the industry,” he says. “The first verse starts with me kind of looking up to Jay like when I was a kid on the block that looked up to [Roc-a-Fella Records]. I’m looking up to Jay as a kid like, ‘That’s that guy. He’s doing it. He’s winning. I want to be like that.’ Then midway through, it turns to me realizing that I’ve kind of become my own man as far as being an artist, as far as being in Hip Hop. I’ve made my own way. I’m not looking up anymore because I’ve made my own way. And the third part of it is somebody looking up to me. It’s kind of like a cycle. It’s kind of like full-circle. I’ve become my own man and in doing so, people are looking up to me the way I looked up to Jay.”
An Ode To Reasonable Doubt is released through First Generation Rich Inc., in conjunction with Loyalty Digital Corp and is available for download on bandcamp.com. Listen to An Ode To Reasonable Doubt below.