Friday, September 30, 2016

Skyzoo and Apollo Brown stick to the script too tightly in 'The Easy Truth'

The Easy Truth by Apollo Brown & Skyzoo
The Brooklyn golden age style rhyme-sayer with the Jay-Z flow known as Skyzoo has nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide after closing up some of the options available to him at the onset of creating The Easy Truth with Mello Detroit producer Apollo Brown. Still knowing who they are and that they haven’t ever collaborated on a project before as extensively as here, the coming together of these two men remains a predictable happening. They’re a lot alike hip-hop wise and their artistic track records are very consistent, almost painfully so, so it’s not a stretch to expect The Easy Truth (Sept 30, Mello Music) to sound like the works they’ve made before. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what it does. The Easy Truth is a strong enough hip-hop project, but it doesn’t come out of left field for these two particular artists.
You’ll most likely make it through the first five songs of this fifteen track set with few or no qualms. Although Skyzoo fashions the typical East Coast rapper traits in his typically nostalgic style, materialistic though they may be (“Jordans and a Gold Chain,” “A Couple Dollars”), we do get some sound guest contributions from Patty Crash, Joell Ortiz, Conway and Westside Gunn plus an interesting violin sample by Brown in “A Couple Dollars.” Mostly however, we begin to hear Skyzoo’s branded tales of woe and triumph from the streets in these starting cuts.
“The Vibes” and the Stretch and Bob Show freestyle both pass without making any astonishing impressions, as do “Spoils to the Victor” (sounds a little like a war theme, eh?) and “Visionary Riches” (really? riches? again?), plus “They Parked a Bentley on the Corner” just gives away by its title that it’s going to have some lame form of car-idolization in it. Moving on, the beginning speech by an unnamed man in “The Flyest Essence” about not chasing and keeping demons and whatnot is inconsistent with Skyzoo’s vehicle fetish and romanticism of dealings past.
In “Innocent Ambition,” his presumed coolness for being a self described all-seeing drug game vet (like Jay-Z) arrives late in the evolution of hip-hop at this point, and in general and as per reputation he’s vague, subtle, indirect, even subliminal about the nature of the events and situations he’s supposedly learned from, but no amount of beating around the bush will hide the storied and reformed ghetto-puritan/ex-slanger character he’s putting behind his bars. “Care Packages” is a fairly obvious one – Skyzoo is taking care of some of his jail babies by sending them some special mail, and via filler-esque methodology, “Payout” (again with the money, LOL) and “Nodding Off” make little or no impact besides showcasing Ohio Maybacher Stalley in the former.
The fact that the first thing we hear off the album is a speech from some guy about how most people take the easy way in life is shady and confusing precisely because Apollo Brown and Skyzoo themselves have taken a more or less easy, standard (for them) route in making The Easy Truth, which is by doing just what they’ve been doing for years now. Unfortunately, this LP sounds like all of Skyzoo’s previous albums and the same goes for Apollo as well. God love him for how good he is at what he does, but all his beats sound pretty much the same here. This nonthreatening harmless and risk-less album stops well short of telling it like it is so it should be well embraced by the masters of the marketplace universe. In reality right now, the truth is NOT easy like how the makers of the album have conducted their business here (and how they named the final thing too). If Skyzoo and Apollo Brown really want the truth, they just got it.
2 out of 5 stars

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