Sunday, July 21, 2013

Skyzoo Needs Just One Line to Put 'Picasso Baby' in Perspective

Joining the growing chorus of MCHG naysayers is Skyzoo, the rapper who openly admits that a chance meeting with Jay Z (sans hyphen) some years ago didn’t end with him being signed to the Roc.

No, this song, called "All Black Walls," isn’t a diss record, as anybody familiar with Sky’s track record knows that isn’t his style.

Hell, Sky just put out Floor Seats With Young, a veritable ode to Jay’s global success that all began just blocks from where a young Skyzoo grew up in Bed Stuy.

However, some could call this a so-called subliminal diss record, since there are no names used.

But the proverbial writing is on the wall with this one, folks, starting with the choice of beats to rock over for the first track of what is shaping up to be the latest installment of Sky’s Penny Freestyle Series.

The beat in question is none other than Picasso Baby from Jay’s 12th studio album as a soloist, which, in Jay’s incarnation features a bunch of prattle about Mr. Carter’s aspirations of expanding his already monstrous empire by bolstering his enviable art collection (which he loves to remind listeners showcases a Basquiat) to include a piece from the famed Spanish artist.

In the song, Jay goes on to wax [un]poetic about the art world he so-blatantly covets by dropping names such as Warhol and da Vinci and referencing the Louvre and the Mona Lisa before implying in the third verse that his own art is — or at least will be one day — as valuable as the aforementioned artists and their artwork.

Rewind back to Skyzoo, who offers his own interpretation of Jay’s song by starting off by simply rapping: “I just wanted an Ernie Barnes.”

Honestly, with just those six words about the black American artist responsible for the painting (at left) seen and popularized on the 70s sit-com Good Times, Sky could have ended the song right there.

Jay only wants a Picasso because of how treasured and valuable the Spaniard’s artwork has become, whereas Sky, with a nod to his most recent mixtape that conceptually juxtaposed JJ Evans and Theo Huxtable, prefers to place a higher value on artwork that features images that look like himself.

The line begs the questions: "Hey, Jay, why don't you big-up any black artists other than the trendy Basquiat? Where the love for Ernie Barnes, John Biggers, Romare Bearden, etc.?" Hence, the freestyle's title (which could also be construed as a play on "All black everything," a phrase popularized by Jay in 2009's chart-topper, but also one that he himself apparently doesn't completely adhere to.

With that one line, Sky lets the listener know that he’s not with all that Picasso shit because even if that were attainable to to him — asit is to Jay — he’s saying he’s not interested in owning something that a culture other than his own has declared to be valuable.

Instead, Sky has simpler but still high-end art ambitions — only it’s of the black artist variety, not European. Annd, probably more importantly, he would rather determine the value of artwork on his own and not have someone else tell him what is valuable.

There's nothing wrong with European artists, but why isn't Jay celebrating his own? Can you imagine what a Jay Z co-sign would do to the value of [insert black artist's name here]'s collection? 

In that one line, Sky pledges allegiance to his African-American heritage while dismissing many of Jay’s declared favorite artists, which, in effect, dismisses that elitist viewpoint that the Jiggaman has been pushing on his listeners for the past few years.

And keeping in line with the trend of hot rhymes making a lackluster beat shine, Sky’s vocals instantly boost the mediocre Timbaland track to noteworthy status after Jay’s rhymes from the album’s single failed to impress.

Sky may not have all the money in the world, but he has been making moves quietly for a few years now and has shown vast improvement with each project he subsequently puts out, so my guess is this latest Penny Freestyle Series will continue that upward trend.

Sky's humility would never allow him to agree with what’s been written here, but the proof is in his own words. Listen to the song below and judge for yourself.