Skyzoo & Torae – Barrel Brothers – 2014
Had to cop this album! I’m a big fan of Skyzoo and although I haven’t heard much from Torae since his collabs with DJ Premier back in’08, I was definitely down for this colalb! I was pretty sure from the beginning of hearing about this it was going to be FIRE! And, when I saw the producer line-up, it was over: Oh No!, Illmind, Black Milk, and Antman Wonder just to name a few. With that said, let’s do this!
Who would have thought 2 emcee’s that have been part of the underground circuit for a minute now would join forces to make an album like Barrel Borthers? Not sure exactly how it happened (besides being both from Brooklyn, it had to be fate)! This album is just NASTY! These 2 emcee’s are those dudes in many rapper circles. Especially Skyzoo, who I’ve been following since his humble beginnings in 2006 with Cloud 9: The 3 Day High. That’s not to take anything away from Torae, because this dude can spit his ass off. Both are heavily influenced by the East Coast Hip-Hop culture. Both rhyme styles remind me of the Golden Nineties battle emcee that is still relevant because of their punchlines and wit. To me, these guys are your rappers rapper.
1) Even the Intro is dope! What better away to start an album than to have Flavor Flav kick off a new year and a random sample (don’t know where from) talking about the idea of “Your Brothers Keeper”. In the background, you here O’Jays classic “For The Love of Money” song from a lone trumpet! Okay, we can all dig where this is going, right?
2) After the Intro, it just starts with Talk of The Town! Oh No is such an under-rated producer! He flipped this sample crazy! It’s so dirty and jazzy. Skyzoo and Torae jump in with complete confidence on this joint. Torrae comes in with heat:
This all what they been waiting for aint it/why people paid paper for, aint it?/While niggaz got famous
I was camped in the lab and made bangers/The more hein-ous – the bars – the more flame it is/
what’s more dangerous than I in the pad/a beat-tape from Oh No/My brother Sky in the lab/
I’ve been dying to spaz…
You get the idea, the wordplay is there from the get go. What a great introduction to the album. Torae has been putting in work lyrically, developing his own set of punchlines that sound like he’s boxing you. And of course, Skyzoo is just finding those words that are going to embarrass your idea of how they should be put together. DAMN!
3) I’m sure you’ve heard of Jhalil Beats. If not, you’ve been living under a rock. This dude has more instrumentals floating around for mixtape use than anyone I’ve ever heard. If you’ve never heard of him, I’m sure you’ve heard his tag: “Jhalil beats, holla at me”. This producer got heat and he doesn’t sample very frequently. He doesn’t disappoint in Make You a Believer. It’s good to hear Torae and Skyzoo rapping over newer style beats! Both just murder this beat. This is basically a track with one statement: Don’t Sleep On Us! DOPE!
4) Man, Illmind is that dude! I got put on to this producer from the “Blaps, Rhymes & Life mixtape”. He always has a way of making beats that are different, infectious, and devious (in a good way). Tunnel Vision has that new school feel laced with an old school feel. Very little sampling (or at least none that I could hear). 808’s, a haunting synth reminiscent of one you hear from a B rated horror movie from the 70’s, and plenty of boom-bap! The hook is one of the most infectious on the whole album! Skyzoo comes with some heat:
Naw, homey I rap/as far as throwing a rap/mine throwing your clothes – if your trying to go for your strap
Mind giving ’em doe like I’m trying throw you a pack/my model is for the low and she’s riding low in the back…
The wordplay is definitely there! His whole verse is just ridiculous!
5) Once again, Illmind drops another gem! Actually, I like this beat better than the previous. But I’m always attracted to that Jazzy sounding old school sound (which this beat has in SPADES)! Wow! This is hard for me to say, but this is probably my favorite beat on the whole album. Sonically, it screams city scape! It feels Premierish (if that’s a word). Yankee Fitted is CRAZY! The production is nuts, the lyricism is at it’s finest on this track. Torae says some of his best punch lines for this track:
Ben was in the Duffel/I lift that up above you/fans is bamboo and they been that on the humble/
Youngins trying to get in the way like they divvying up the gold/I Chris Paul on the draw/put clippers in the hole
Yes, this is the SINGLE:
6) What’s an album without collabs, right? And this is such a NICE collab! All In Together is that track! Sean Price has been around for a minute and still goes hard! And, how can you go wrong with Guilty Simpson (dude has some of the best punchlines I’ve ever heard in Hip-Hop)! This album just keeps getting better! Black Milk is a cold producer! I mean, he’s one of the most under-rated producers out there. And this track displays his gritty beat making skills at its finest. LOVE IT!
7) Man, they’re giving MAD props to Illmind! And why not, when you’re making those CRAZY beats (if it aint broke, don’t fix it). This beat is all over the place. But it’s still got that reminiscent old school feel. The synths are ridiculous on this track. No hook needed over this track either. Oh yeah, and there’s one more surprise: another feature! Sha Stimuli is nice with it! Though I hadn’t heard him in a little while, dude still got heat!
8) Movie Album (skit) is a nice concept. This is straight free styling. It’s funny and pretty true!
9) Man, I hadn’t heard of the producer Praise before. I’ve been looking all over for anything on him and all I can find is a bandcamp page (hoping this is the right link). Albee Square Mall is nuts! I’d say this is my second favorite beat on the album! Skyzoo is bringing the heat as usual! It’s nice to hear Sky talking about where he’s from and the fact he hasn’t conceded to the industry. Oh, and did I mention another collab! Yep, this time we’ve got Living Proof! Never heard of this dude, but he’s sounding nice!
10) The Hand Off is smooth. Khrysis and Cyrus The Great are killing it on the beat. Man, Skyzoo and Torae got RHYMES FOR DAYS! They just keep on getting more nastier as the album progresses. They definitely came hungry over this album, but this track in particularly is just murder.
11) I had never heard of the Stuyvesants either! I’m going to have to start paying attention to these guys though. There a collaborative effort between Algorythm and Flwrpt. 4 Bar Friday is crazy! The sample flip is pretty good and the drums are layered nicely. This is a feel good beat for sure! And those scratches at the end are FIRE! Of course, Torae and Skyzoo go! This is a strong effort by the two but not the best on the album.
12) Antman is Skyzoo’s go to producer! The dude has close ties with DJ Premier and you can tell he’s definitely influenced by one of the G.O.A.T.’s. The hook is pretty infectious and live instrumentation is so good! The sample is jazzy as hell! This is one of the better dynamical beats. The beat drops are infectious too. Definitely digging this!
13) The beats just keep coming! Rediscover is a track produced by MarcNfinit. The sample is a great flip! But those low, hard hitting drums and hard hitting snare are what really makes the track go! And you ready for another feature? That’s right, we’ve got my man Blu on the track. Blu has been working on his skills for along time on the underground circuit. Always love what I’m hearing from him and it’s no different over this track.
14) What a way to end the album! DJ Premier and Antman Wonder working together to give you a classic track. The sample is cut up so nicely and the beat is just super jazzy. The hook is nice over this beat and I can tell Torae and Skyzoo wanted to go out with a bang! They leave you wanting more too!
I’m giving this 4.7/5! The beats alone would have made this album that rating! But Skyzoo and Torae are definitely skilled in their craft! It’s crazy how this album is going to be slept on because it’s not poppy enough for radio play. That’s okay with me though. We’ll keep the best kept secret of the year so far!