Editor’s note: In Tweets is Watching, Phillip Mlynar will ask local artists questions based solely on the contents of their Twitter timeline.
Skyzoo is a Bed-Stuy-raised rapper whose new album, A Dream Deferred, will be released at the start of October via the Brooklyn institution Duck Down. He has more than 25,000 followers and, he claims, more of a level head than his colleagues when it comes to deciding what to share on social media. In accordance with his recent 140-character missives, here are Sky’s Bed-Stuy brunch recommendations, his views on Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, and why you should really be following Wale on Twitter.
@skyzoo Obama just said “a dream deferred” in the middle of this speech. Too late to sample and get on the new album? Lol…
— William Grant(@WillEGrant) September 7, 2012
You retweeted a fan asking if you were going to sample Obama saying the phrase “dream deferred” in his recent speech. Will that happen?
Ah, nah, I wish! It would be great to use it, but that would have had to happen months ago. The album had to be turned into the label about a month ago. It would have been really cool though.
Did you watch Obama’s speech?
I didn’t get to watch it ’cause I was on the road and had a show the night of the speech. But I’m trying to find the best place online to find it in one piece instead of just lots of two minute pieces of it. I’ve been a huge supporter of his.
If you could play one of your songs for Obama, which one would it be?
It would probably be a song from my new album, “How To Make It Through Hysteria.” It breaks down everything as far as I know as far as growing up in Brooklyn, the people in Bed-Stuy, and the influences we had. We all want different things out of life. But the song is two verses then after the last hook it goes into two-and-a-half minutes of spoken word.
You tweeted about eating at Mike’s Coffee Shop [on Dekalb Avenue and Hall Street].
That’s a place that we grew up on, coming up as kids—I lived like four blocks away from that location. Mike’s and Luigi’s Pizza around the corner, we grew up going to those places. The picture I posted, that’s just a regular Saturday morning breakfast for me.
What would you recommend people order at Mike’s?
Definitely the breakfast. Like the picture that I tweeted after that: cheese grits, eggs, turkey sausage.
It’s a standard diner, it doesn’t serve one specific culture or type of food, but it’s real dope and it’s got that neighborhood feel. Even if you look at the picture, the outside of it, it’s kinda grimy, but inside it’s clean and real small. It’s packed with people from all sorts of walk of life, like people who grew up there for years and the new transplants. It’s the epitome of the neighborhood.
You tweeted about Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer. What did you think of it?
I thought it was great. The twist at the end—I don’t want to go into it if you haven’t seen it—but I knew something was coming, especially the scene where they set it up, I knew there was a twist but it wasn’t what I expected. I like how he brought it back to Brooklyn but also showed what Brooklyn has become.
How would you rate Red Hook Summer alongside Spike’s other films?
I think it stands up next to them; it stands up as one of his really great works. But I may be biased ’cause I’m probably a bigger Spike Lee fan than Spike Lee himself!
Have you met Spike Lee?
I haven’t met him, but I’ve been dealing with his team at 40 Acres & A Mule a lot lately. There’s a record on my album called “Spike Lee Is My Hero.” It features Talib Kweli and we were able to get in touch with 40 Acres for the video and they gave us clothes and memorabilia and posters and hats, like stuff coming directly from Spike’s office and movie set. We found out Spike has heard the record and wants to see the video. Just that alone really blows me away. Spike knows!
Growing up in Bed-Stuy, were you around when he was shooting Do The Right Thing?
I was young. I think that came out in ’89, so they probably shot it in ’88, so I was six years old. I didn’t see it firsthand. It was one of those movies I saw later on when I was ten years old, and it had such an impact on my life. On the Spike Lee song I talk about how I’m one of the few who can say he has a pops who walked those blocks and how he made me read every script Spike wrote. My father made me watch Spike Lee movies. He took me to watch Malcolm X the day it came out and made me write a report on the movie just for him!
You post up a lot of pictures of sneakers. Which pair has promoted the most amount of feedback?
Any time I post up a pair of Jordans, like normally a pair that may not be out yet, then it’s those. Beside that, my Nike Penny 1s got the most feedback ’cause they really are a hard pair to get. I’m trying to get another pair right now as backup!
You put up a picture of the contents of your supermarket cart. Where’s your local supermarket?
Ha ha, there’s two: There’s Pioneer and there’s Met. Pioneer is on St. James and Fulton, Pioneer is on Grand and Lafayette. They’re both about two or three blocks away from me, so it depends where I go—one might have better sales than the other. Those are two supermarkets that I grew up on.
How’s the produce there?
The produce is pretty good! It’s actually gotten better over the years ’cause of the clientele and the people who’ve moved there. Back in the day the neighborhood looked like me, and now it does and it doesn’t: you have a lot of older married white couples that work in Manhattan that have two-and-a-half kids and one-and-a-half dogs. So it’s changed; a lot of the stores are organic and a lot of the supermarkets are starting to sell organic produce. It’s changed, but it’s changed for the better.
Where was the doctored “Don’t Walk” sign that you posted a picture of?
Ah, I just thought that was funny. That was in Williamsburg. I was walking through there and I looked at the lights across the street and I saw that. But the thing about it was, all four lights at the intersection had that. I was like, “Wow, someone really had too much time on their hands!” They all had the same layout with the masking tape covering it over. I was like, “Man, this person came out here with the masking tape, probably had a crate to stand on ’cause the lights were kinda high—they did all of that!” I thought it was kinda comical.
— Skyzoo (@skyzoo) September 12, 2012
You retweeted a fan saying it was a shame Jay-Z never signed you. Is there any truth to that comment?
I think it’s just a compliment. A lot of people feel like when you’re from a certain area, it’s easier to go back from that area; not necessarily to walk those blocks but to go back to people who know them like you do and put them on. I don’t think that’s anybody’s obligation, but a lot of people look at it like that: “Jay never really put on anyone he grew up with other than [Memphis] Bleek.” A lot of people feel like artists should go back to similar neighborhoods and find that next guy. But I don’t think anyone’s obligated like that. But I get that all the time, so who knows? I don’t think that’s something Jay necessarily wants anyway—I think he wants to carry that flag for himself for a little longer. He’s on new records every week!
How do you decide which fan comments to retweet or not?
I try to show as much love to fans as possible. If it’s not me replying to them directly it’s through retweets. A lot of people say, “Ah, Sky, you retweet too much.” The reason is that I know what interaction does for fans. I know that if back in the day they had Twitter and let’s say Jay-Z or Nas or Biggie or Raekwon retweeted me, I would lose it! So I do it for that.
Who’s the most famous person that follows you?
I’m not sure ’cause I used to get the alerts but I had to turn that function off ’cause it was draining out the battery on my iPhone! I know Lupe Fiasco follows me—he’s a friend of mine—and I know Kweli follows me.
Which other artist is the most entertaining to follow?
Joe Budden is pretty cool to follow. He always interacts with fans and kinda just says what he wants to say. He gives people insights into his life whether people like it or not! Lupe’s cool to follow too ’cause it’s always insightful. Wale is really cool ’cause he’s another really good friend of mine; he’s good to follow ’cause he goes back at everybody, positive or negative—especially the negative. He takes things personally!
Have you ever deleted something you tweeted?
Never, because I think before I tweet. I may be one of the few rappers that thinks before they tweet!