Aloha #OTDHipHop fans/supporters/artists whoever and where ever you are!
For today's Mixtape Monday, I'm reviewing The High Times of Cielo Smooth, an old mixtape by Skyy Royal. This project dropped back in 2014 but Skyy wanted me to see what I think listening to it now.
So below is my track by track analysis, check it out!
1. Darker Peter Parker (Prod. by D Millz)
Starting off, this track features Skyy Royal doing what he does best - straight storytelling with his smooth style. The beat has an old school vibe with different live instruments playing. True to Skyy’s brand, he is playful at times but can also express serious perspective.
2. Anytime (Prod. by RXN)
This track has an old school feel as well, more like a smooth disco beat with more hip hop drums. It seems like Skyy’s flow on this is like he’s talking to a girl - flirty, seductive, but also genuine and sincere. Hella smooth track. I dig it.
3. Baddest Thing (Prod. by Zuper/Sango)
This track has a sensual feel, inspired by female beauty. The beat has a psychedelic feel in my opinion, and dope lyricism by Skyy. He also samples a little bit of his own singing on here. That’s dope.
4. Dig This! (Prod. by Hocus Pocus)
I’m relieved that this song picks up the pace from the first three tracks. The beat has a west coast Warren G type of vibe, G-Funk type stuff. Skyy continues to smash this track with his dope lyricism and smooth voice. The old school style matches Skyy, but his own personality and flow that he brings is refreshing.
5. “Eruption” Freestyle (Prod. by Prozak Morris)
If I didn’t know this was a freestyle, I would think that these are written lyrics because of how smooth and chill Skyy’s flow is. But this is a dope “break” in the mixtape. He talks about his youth, girls, parties, etc. Dope stuff.
6. Get It How You Live It (Prod. by Ohbliv)
Skyy seems to be inspired a lot by females. This song is another track along the same lines. This time, the story starts off about a girl who works late and does what she needs to do. I think it’s cool that he expresses his male perspective of females and his own feelings, but not just about being in the club and shaking their asses. Definitely has some “adult” connotations, but his tone comes from a deeper mental state versus simply shallow.
7. I Feel Good (Prod. by IAMNOBODI)
This beat has a relaxed feel, with Jazz elements like the saxophone and smooth drums. Skyy is in his element on this track - smooth, seductive, and even sings a little.
8. Lyrical Exercize (Prod. by Wayvee)
This track features Skyy just flowing and having fun on this “lyrical exercise.” The beat seems to be Skyy’s forte, some chill instrumentals and drums.
9. New Shoe Aroma (Prod. by Ackryte)
This beat is hella groovy. You can really hear the 90s influence on Skyy’s flow. He doesn’t seem to ever sound aggressive on his tracks. This song seems to reminisce on childhood memories such as the smell of new shoes out the box. I appreciate that. I’d say that this is a “hip hop culture” type of song.
10. Off the Top (Prod. by Briarcliff Beats)
This beat still has the Jazz and funky smoothness that has been consistent on this project so far. But I’d say that it also has an “trap” feel, as far as the base and other instruments on the beat.
11. Smoked Out (Prod. by S0ulUnreal)
This is a dope joint! Stoney, psychedelic vibes. The beat has a chill classic hip hop style, with more Jazz and soulful elements. There’s a feature from Skyy’s friend in the beginning of the song, and then Skyy comes in singing “I stayyy smoked.” This is another “culture,” type of track, focused on smoking cannabis and relaxing.
12. What? (Prod. by Justice)
This song is probably the most different from all of the tracks on this project thus far. The beat has more of a “house” feel, but largely still hip hop sounding. Skyy raps a lot faster on this one, different from the chill 90s G-Funk style that has been pretty consistent on this project.
13. Expose the Truth (Prod. by Gramatik)
It’s refreshing to hear Skyy rap at a faster pace. I dig his chill, sensual styles that he seems to stick to. But he sounds hella good rapping fast, while still keeping his own smooth style, which is how I’d describe the sound on this track. He sounds more aggressive and shares his perspective on many topics like politics, social media, and society, etc. He goes hella unorthodox with his rhyme patterns on this. I’d say that content and flow-wise, this is my favorite track from The High Times of Cielo Smooth.
14. Magic (Prod. by Tajima Hal)
This beat has a west coast psychedelic vibe, which I dig. Skyy spits well on this one too. I’d like to hear him on newer sounding beats, but this is actually his second project, so it’s cool to get a reference of where he comes from.
15. Mista Funkafide (Prod. by Grooveman Spot)
Another hella groovy beat, and funky vibes from Skyy. What I find interesting is that by listening to Skyy’s vocals, you can’t really tell where he’s from. I mean, he has the west coast G-Funk beats and sticks to those types of beats on this project. But, he is definitely diverse in his sound and content.
This song starts off with what I believe is a female singing, and then Skyy comes in about half way to start rapping. Pretty dope concept. The vocals sound hella good to me!
17. Strange Places (Prod. by Oscar Peanuts)
Love the beat, simple hip hop instrumental. Skyy does what he does best just flowing and storytelling over the beat. Pay attention to how he describes females, so different from what we’re hearing rappers say today!
18. Need Us Like Water (Prod. by Ta-Ku)
Lovin’ the 90s classic style flow from Skyy and the featured artist on here. The contrast from both artists make the song fun to listen to. Great beat too, reminds me of Nas.
19. Stand Still is Defeat
Very similar to the song and pace of “Need Us Like Water.” Skyy definitely has a lot to say about various topics. I like that he can talk about anything and make it relevant to the listener. From politics to women,Skyy has great perspective and lets it flow out. I’d say that this has a subtle inspiring message.
20. Feel It (Prod. by S0ulUnreal)
This song has a spiritual vibe to it. I feel like Skyy is a “new hippie,” similar to the movement that Dizzy Wright and Demrick lead. This collab track reminds me a lot of them.
21. You’re the One I Want (Prod. by Handbook)
This song has a soulful, hip hop beat. Skyy talks about troubles that relationships go through. He has a poetic soul that he puts out on this track.
22. Life is a Beach (Prod. by Sela)
Sonically, I’d say that this is my favorite track on this project. I think it’s a great closing song, and encompasses a lot of the topics and vibes that are consistent on this tape. I dig the wavy, neo-soul elements on the beat, but still very hip hop.
Overall, I'd give this project a 3.8/5 on my "Rap's Lumpia Scale." Considering that Skyy Royal has newer tracks out, this was a great place to start and get introduced to his vibe and style. I dig his choices of beats and general concept for this mixtape, definitely looking forward to reviewing his newer projects.
Aloha #OTDHipHop fans!
Welcome to another segment of Mixtape Monday, where I do track by track reviews of full length projects from up and coming artists in the underground rap scene. This week, I was contacted by Dave Cerdafyed, a talented emcee from Toppenish, WA. He is currently signed to independent label G.A.T Entertainment, and recently released his debut EP Soular System. The project was fully produced by Luke White.
G.A.T Entertainment Photo
1) I’ma Do It
I love that this is the first track of the project. Classic boom bap hip hop beat with soothing hooks and vocals. Dave has a unique voice matched with addicting storytelling style. While conversing with him briefly, he told me that his first initial rap influences include Tupac, Biggie, and Bone Thugs. I sense a mix of all three of them in Dave’s flow just off the bat, from this track and I think it’s a great track that introduces the listener to this debut EP of his. The message of this song is basically to do what you want no matter what naysayers say, stay focused on the goals you want to accomplish.
This song is a DOPE follow up from I’ma Do It (track 1). Big props to Producer Luke White! The beat is mostly boom bap, a staple sound for hip hop/rap songs, coupled with Dave’s relaxing, storytelling vocals. I would say that this is one of my favorite tracks from this EP, particularly for the hella smooth hook. I like that he is harmonizing on the hook but only subtly. The tone is reflective and paints a “chill party lifestyle” sort of vibe. The lyrics range from friendship to social commentary, which are recurring themes throughout the project.
3) One Day Forte
This track transitions well from Paradiso (track 2), which I really appreciate as a listener. So far, I’d say that production wise this is my favorite track, and once again props to Producer Luke White! The beat is a faster paced boom bap style, which seems to be Dave’s forte, per say. What I really dig is the simple, melodic synthesizer sounds, added over Dave’s vocals. I would describe Paradiso very similarly to Logic’s “Fade Away,” from his second album The Incredible True Story, as far as the vibes and fast-paced wordplay. Nonetheless, both Dave and Luke DELIVER on this track, straight up.
4) Need to Know
This track is straight up swaggy. Dave flows over a boom bap beep, but also has reggae and country elements, especially with the guitar string sounds. I dig it! This song is basically filled with subtle, quick-witted, and funny bragging. Dave showcases his unique flow and lets the song lead his lyricism and composition.
5) Suicide Notes
This track is has a completely different tone from the past 4 tracks. Up until this point, Dave’s content has been rather uplifting and happy. Suicide Notes has a darker undertone, with Dave expressing his battle with suicidal thoughts. I appreciate this track.
6) Friendly Conversations
This song features a reflective, 4/20 vibed Dave. He speaks on various topics, largely focused on his grind and experience in music. Such solid production once again from Luke White. I especially dig the little “talking portion” which adds a very personal element to the song. “Friendly Conversations” also has a music video, which was shot, edited, and released by G.A.T. Entertainment. A great track to end an even greater debut project!
Overall, I give this project a 4.5/5 on my Lumpia Scale. I especially commend the vibe, lyrical content, and quality production. Looking forward to Dave Cerdafyed's and the rest of G.A.T Entertainment's future projects.
For more from Dave Cerdafyed or G.A.T. Entertainment, visit gatentertainment.com.com/davecerdafyed
Growing up in Bernal Heights and Noe Valley, J. Quest was exposed to hip hop’s elements of graffiti, breakdancing, dj-ing, and emceeing all around him. A true 90s kid, it is evident that J. Quest’s style is very much 80s and 90s, classic hip hop/rap influenced. Although he loved hip hop culture from a young age, it wasn’t until he moved to Honolulu, HI at age 16, that he began to participate more heavily as an emcee. “Living in the Kaneohe and Manoa areas, really shaped my use of *pidgin in my raps and honestly gave me a deep sense of my Asian roots & local culture that I present today in my music,” said J. Quest.
While in Hawaii, he connected with a long time family friend named DJ Kutmaster Spaz. “The first time I ever got on the mic in Hawaii was back in 2002/2003, at Kutmaster Spaz's album release party, and there was an MC battle for a cash prize at the Pali Golf Course, said J. Quest. He also states that he used to catch rides sometimes with Hawaii Hip Hop OG Big Mox, who at the time ran street cyphers under the freeway (in the parking lot near the infamous Ice Palace skating rink). J. Quest also mentioned how he used to call-in to Jus Bone’s “Got Rice?” show on KTUH radio. Furthermore, he met longtime Hawaii entertainer Lina Girl, while taking classes at the University of Hawaii Windward campus who then gave him a contact to record some of his first demos. He stated, “San Francisco gave me that ‘blue collar meets the streets vibe’ but if it wasn't for moving to Hawaii as a teen, I might have been yet another statistic shot down or crippled or locked up for keeping up and trying to ‘keep it real.’”
I recently wrote a track-by-track review of J. Quest most recent EP Son of a City Worker, which was released in 2016. While I believe his overall flow and delivery can be improved, J. Quest’s songs and lyrics definitely showcase the mind of a grown man, in tune with his various identities. One of the songs from Son of a City Worker is called “Hapa Boy,” inspired from the term *hapa, which in Hawaiian generally refers to being mixed. The song speaks on the struggles and strengths J. Quest has experienced, and how he uses music to express and share his identity. “I am a hapa boy, Chinese /Portuguese on my mom's side & Croation on my dad’s,” said J. Quest. Unfortunately, his parents separated when he was 9, but gained a father figure when his biological one wasn't around. He stated, “My father figure is a big Hawaiian growing up in San Francisco and my mom and I eventually moved to Hawaiian our own. So Hawaii’s unique local culture has always played a big part in my life even before I moved to the islands- from speaking pidgin, to my taste for food, and taking off my sneakers before coming in the house, very Asian and Hawaiian influenced like Hawaii’s culture is.”
Photo Credits: Young Dedicated Proper (YDP)
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