Anyone remotely familiar with Skyzoo would be remiss not to concede the intricacy of his pen game; a new project from the Brooklyn MC has a track record of being guaranteed quality. So when the 35-year-old rapper calls a project his most "layered and conceptual" — essentially his best — to date, it's reasonable for fans to salivate.
In Celebration Of Us is many things at once. For starters, it's — as the title suggests — a celebration of both the glorious peaks and dark valleys of the black community. This is defined on the opener, "Everybody's Fine." As the album progresses, amid production from the likes of !LLMIND and Apollo Brown (among others), he tackles themes that range from education and cultural appropriation to police brutality, classicism and economics.
Probably the most understated and yet profound theme on this album is the value that Sky places on fatherhood. The album opener begins with a re-enactment that visits his father as he leaves behind the streets in favour of raising Skyzoo for a better life. The album closer, "Honor Amongst Thieves," produced by Seige Monstracity, includes a touching story of his childhood, stressing how detrimental his father's influence was in his early life — as told during a live event at Brooklyn's BRIC.
It's not until you catch the reference to his first child's impending arrival, on "Love Is Love," that you connect the dots, making the circular nature of the embedded stories feel like deliberately placed Easter eggs for his son, which is amazing.
From top to bottom, In Celebration Of Us is every bit as impressive as Skyzoo himself alluded to. Stellar production, songs that require multiple listens to fully grasp all the gems, and a conceptual vision that hits the mark — this is upper echelon hip-hop. (First Generation Rich / Empire)