Photograph By: @JulianMoretaMusic
Aloha & welcome #OTDHipHop supporters!
As always, it's TRACK TUESDAY, and time for me to review a new track from some of the dopest artists in the underground. Today, I had the pleasure to check out the newest release from Johari L, an up and coming singer from Grand Rapids, MI. Below is my review of "Mad House."
First off, I really dig the dark carnival type vibes that I get from the production. There’s a deep bass element similar to the rhythm of marching, and some other instruments that add to the hysteria feel. This track actually caught me off guard because Johari is actually a singer, but on this track he is somewhat of a hip hop artist. think it shows how multifaceted of an artist he is, moving through genres like hip hop to trap and R&B. The first thing I thought of when hearing this song was, “Johari L a rapper now?!” Lol.
In his own right, I give this man hella props on the production, lyrical content, and performance delivery. Regarding the story line and lyrics, it seems like this song is like a message to the haters, part braggadocious but part inspirational. He uses a lot of different metaphors and the different lyrics and sounds keep the listener engages throughout the whole track. It also ends with a little instrumental skit outro, which I believe shows the full package of Johari’s artistry.
Johari L. is a singer, songwriter, and producer from Grand Rapids, MI. He has been featured on this blog before, and continues to build his network and music catalog. Recently, he started a music group "Royal Mind Scheme” of which he is the founder. The group’s new music and music released by the artists in the group will soon be available via their Soundcloud.
Aloha & welcome to another edition of Mixtape Mondays on #OTDHipHop blog!
Back with another review of Skyy Royal's music, this time I review his newest project, Love & Lust. This mixtape dropped in 2016, and Skyy wanted my feedback. Here it is below!
1.♀ (Prod. by TAEO)
I’m already bobbin’ my head to this one! Lol. Skyy has a playful, seductive charm to his voice and flow, which has been consistent from his past two mixtapes Californication (2013) and The High Times of Cielo Green (2014). But I can sense his maturity just by hearing this track, I like that his voice sounds bolder and more confident.
2. Beauty At Its Best (Prod. by Howie Wonder)
This song has a jazzy, neo-soul vibe with hip hop styled drums. The beat has lots of instruments playing, which I believe are saxophones, trumpets, and some keys. I would say that this is a love song, but not in a traditional sense. Skyy mentioned that this project was inspired by female beauty - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. So I’d say that this song introduces the listener to what the rest of the project is going to be about.
3. From The Back (Prod. by King Soul the Great)
This track seems to be sort of like an interlude, more like just a quick story within the full project. The content is sensual and sexual, but I like Skyy’s playful poetic style on here, definitely shows growth in his flow.
4. Holding On (Prod. by Flamingosis)
This beat is a throwback to late 80s, early 90s hip hop. I believe it’s the same beat to “Hold On” (Brand Nubian ft. Starr) or at least closely inspired by that song. Skyy flows right along on this one, I dig it. He also ends the track with saying “Woman is god. Woman is god,” interesting.
5. Is it Love? (Prod. by Jae Larred)
I really dig Skyy’s lyricism on this track. He flows well on classic styled hip hop beats, and his voice adds its own tone to the instrumental. The content speaks on the definition of love, and how young folks often confuse love and lust. Great story and track.
6. Lonely.Roads (Prod. by David Chief)
The beats that Skyy chooses are always hella smooth. Definitely the type of music you can smoke to. Content-wise, I feel like this song has a message of seeking truth and working towards one’s own goals. He mentions things like fabricated news/media, social media, and injustice.
7. Luv Sounds (Prod. by Cyberlust)
Back to the ladies, Skyy spits another track in honor of women. I really dig the 70s/80s disco vibe on this track. Great throwback, groovy and lovely feel.
8. Make.Believe (Prod. by Ocean Jams)
The tempo of the beat is right in Skyy’s forte, but the different sounds is what catches my ear. The sounds remind me of tranquil ocean sounds (hence production by Ocean Jams). The lyrics speak on staying focused and not worrying about all the details that can get us stressed in life.
9. Miami Affection (Prod. by RoyShiftE)
This song is a cool change from the softer, neo-soul sound. This one has more EDM sounding elements and has a faster pace. It’s refreshing to hear Skyy on a faster beat, outside of his usual G-Funk choices of instrumentals. It’s always cool to hear how artists’ flows sound on different beats.
10. No Ones Gonna Love You Like I Do (Prod. by Ocean Jams)
This is the second track on this project produced by Ocean Jams. It has a throwback R&B feel to it especially with saxophone playing, and features Skyy rapping smooth as if he’s talking to a girl he likes.
11. Take Em To The Cleaners (Prod. by Minus One)
I dig Skyy’s storytelling on this track. It’s basically sharing some insight about his life, identity and learning to be positive through trials and tribulations. A vibey type of song you can smoke to and play at a party with friends or with family.
12. The World is Yours (Prod. by S0ulUnreal)
This song is only about a minute long, so I’d consider this an interlude type of track as we enter the last couple songs on this project. I feel like his flow on this moreso like a poetry turned into rap. It doesn’t have a hook or any major structure, but still a dope interlude both the beat and Skyy’s vocals.
13. Wassup Miss (Prod. by Kahawai Loaf)
I don’t really vibe to the beat on this track, but it’s still dope. Told from Skyy’s perspective, he talks about dating and talking to girls. Lyrically he goes pretty deep into concepts of love and lust, which is the title of this project. I like how Skyy is playing around a little bit with singing.
14. You a Freak Tho (Prod. by Damu the Fudgemunk)
This is a goofy fun song that you can play at parties or probably just vibing and cleaning the house. Skyy starts off spitting some rhymes acapella and then the beat drops, and the song starts. I’d say that lyrically there is a sexual connotation, but Skyy’s tone is playful and flirty, versus just misogynistic. “Is you a freak tho?! Let a freak know!” Lol I dig it.
15. Gas in My Trip (Prod. by Kahawai Loaf)
This beat is similar to the types of old school styles that Skyy sticks to, but overall the track is hella easy to listen to. I like his swaggy flow on this one.
16. Love & The Queen (Prod. by Ocean Jams)
This is not only my favorite song from this project, but also my favorite song from Skyy Royal himself. The beat is right in his forte, but has a deeper psychedelic feel, incorporated with different sonic melodies. The lyrics are sensual and flirty, and showcases Skyy’s unique smooth style. He kind of reminds me of a more soulful LL Cool J.
Overall, I'd give this project a 4/5 on my "Rap's Lumpia Scale." I feel that this is a lot more organized than his last two projects, and shows his growth and maturity as an artist. The concept of Love & Lust was cool, and a chill tape to play around friends and family, or to vibe to at home or in the car. Check out more of Skyy Royal's music on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.
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.
OTDHipHop is an independent music blog and network, curated by Rapper/Blogger Jehzan Exclusive.