Hip-Hop has repeatedly proven that there is strength in numbers. The genre has a history of bringing together strong soloists for specific songs, or entire albums with great results, from Brand Nubian and Black Star to Jay Z and Kanye’s The Throne. While some unions can feel a little manufactured, in the best cases it’s a more organic partnership. These “dream teams” become more special when you factor in how many have been promised but never came to fruition (we’re looking at you Lil Wayne and Juelz).
Brooklyn MCs Skyzoo and Torae have enjoyed prolific careers as independent artists, releasing eleven albums and mix tapes between them both, like Tor’s “For The Record” and Skyzoo’s “A Dream Deferred.” As fate would have it the lyricists would link on two DJ Premier produced cuts “Click” and “Get It Done” before teasing the possibility of a full length joint project. On the aptly titled track “Barrel Brothers” from “Live From The Tape Deck,” Skyzoo’s 2010 album with producer !llmind, Torae spits, “We might do a full length who gonna cut that check?”
Well, just a few years later they have made good on that challenge, cutting the check themselves releasing the “Barrel Brothers” full length on Skyzoo’s imprint First Generation Rich and Torae’s Internal Affairs Entertainment. With help from producers like the aforementioned !llmind, Oh No, Jahlil Beats, Black Milk and MCs like Sean Price, Guilty Simpson and Sha Stimuli, they have crafted the perfect tribute to their Empire State stomping grounds.
“This is fun man. This is the victory lap. We just doin this for the fans, waving and slapping five,” Torae tells TheUrbanDaily.com. “Me and my brother sparring together. We didn’t go too conceptual with song ideas. We didn’t try to make a Torae album or a Skyzoo album. It wasn’t super jazz or super street. What would two MCs from Brooklyn do if they were standing on the corner for an hour or two and just rap.”
“It’s literally just us throwing bars at people,” adds Skyzoo. “There’s no stories, no concepts. When people hear my solo albums there’s a lot of stories from A to B and this ties into that, but we scaled back on that to just beats and rhymes. This was just a time out for me to go in the gym and run a couple pick up games for a day. No organized ball. Running around playing to 11…”
Watch as the two discuss the importance of sticking to their New York roots and why the shiny apple is still bruised but sweet.