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Hit Or Miss: Skyzoo & The Doppelgangaz

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Welcome to Hit Or Miss, our new weekly column where we cover as many new rap tapes, albums, EPs, and projects from the week as we can. Some are good, others, not so much, but remember – honesty is the best policy.

Skyzoo – Music For My Friends

Brooklyn’s hip-hop narrative has been dominated by reluctant criminals and stick up kids packaging their celebratory tales of achieving the good life despite the evil that men do. But somewhere beyond the streets and the corners are those kids on the stoop plotting on how to navigate both without succumbing to either. SkyZoo’s Music For My Friends is their story.

Anyone familiar with Skyzoo’s layered lyricism knows that you will rarely catch the multiple meanings of his verses on the first pass. It’s like verbal Turducken with a meal within a meal within a meal catering to different pallets. Thankfully, he serves these dense bites on fine china with perfect pitch and sonically My Best Friends may be his best A&Ring effort to date.  Producer !llMind helps quarterback a team that includes Jahlil Beats and Antman Wonder, who set the table for guests like Black Thought, Jadakiss and Bilal to assist Sky in constructing his 3-story stories, reverse-gentrifying your ears with monuments to pre-Bloomberg Brooklyn.

“Suicide Doors” is a game of “that’s my car” set to a beat and “Women Who Can Cook” is a flirtatious food porn confessional. The program peaks on “Money Makes Us Happy” and “Civilize Leisure” as he wields complex language to tell us simple truths: “We just wanted a shot or two/Melo on the follow-thru/ promised me it would open these doors, the way that they promised you/ So I just do whatever it take to fuck with it all/ and enough to buy my way next to Jesus if I get lost…”

No matter where you travel in the world everyone has to go back home, if not to a physical structure then to that place in your heart where your values were forged. For a lot of us that stoop is a portal to the past. Both a pulpit and pew. You could hit pause on the game of life long enough to catch your breath. If you can relate to any of that at all then this album is for you. – Jerry L. Barrow

Verdict: Hit

Best Songs: “All Day, Always,” “Money Makes Us Happy,” “Civilized Leisure”

The Doppelgangaz – Parts Unknown

Everyone who hears Matter Ov Fact and EP’s music fucks with it. Together they’re The Doppelgangaz, and they started making music together in 2008. Since then, they’ve released critically-adored projects like Hark and Peace Kehd, but their new Parts Unknown EP, which boasts only five new songs, is some of their most mature work yet.

They’ve cleaned up their sound a bit, like on “Rox Wid Her,” the best song on the tape thanks to their irreverent humor and the shiny beat. Looped outros and instrumental interludes make Parts Unknown feel like Madlib is watching over the proceedings, but what they’ve improved the most is their production, which has a wavier levity than previous works. Jim Jones guest appearance aside, this is an excellent addition to the already-stellar Doppelgangaz catalog.

Verdict: Hit

Best Songs: “Scintilla,” “Rox Wid Her,” “Thus Far”

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