Skyzoo & Joell Ortiz Look At Some Of The Costs Of A Couple Of Dollars (Video)
Tomorrow (September 30), Apollo Brown and Skyzoo will release their first collaborative album, The Easy Truth. As the Detroit, Michigan producer explained to Ambrosia For Heads this week, the easy truth is what we are all fed, left for us to decipher whether it is truly real or false.
One of the LP’s singles, “A Couple Of Dollars” plays to this point. Featuring Slaughterhouse’s Joell Ortiz, the single examines how some people can justify out of character actions in their pursuit of paper. And if it’s just to get by, when does it ever stop? Skyzoo and Joell complement each other in capturing a storytelling sentiment about somebody short-term hustling for a long-term dream. While Skyzoo’s verse appears to focus on a person trapped in that compromise, Joell spits from the personal experience about making the harder short-term decision for his long-term benefit (his storied music career over hustling). Meanwhile, Apollo laces the track with rich instrumentation that sounds a step apart from some of his previous work within an acclaimed catalog.
For the video, all three men meet in Brooklyn, New York (home to S-K-Y and Ortiz). There, with vivid backdrops, the three creatives bring their lush artistic contributions to the song out in a thorough presentation. Ambrosia For Heads presents the Mello Music Group video, with a conversation with Apollo and Skyzoo underneath.
Ambrosia For Heads: Apollo, you’ve worked with a few Brooklyn MCs in your career—perhaps most notably your whole Trophies album with O.C. In preparing to go about The Easy Truth, what did you hear in your selection in Skyzoo’s Brooklyn, sonically? In visuals like these, you clearly capture the beat and rhythm of the place in the lyrics.
Apollo Brown: Working with Skyzoo was only slightly different for me because of what I know he’s used to sonically. Sky’s body of work shines over big orchestral beats, with a lot of instrumentation, and a squeaky clean sound. Me, I’m a minimal producer, with dirt, and grit, and static to match. The object was to give ourselves each other musically without compromising each one’s integrity, but, allowing each other to become uncomfortable at the same time. And that’s what we did. I know what Sky likes, but he also knows what I like, and a lot of times those sounds overlap. That’s the album. The overlap. You’ll hear sounds on this album that you don’t normally hear from Apollo Brown, on top of hearing certain joints that you wouldn’t find sprinkled in Sky’s catalog either. It worked well that way though. We pushed each other, and made each other a little uncomfortable in order to make the best record possible.
AFH: Skyzoo, many people believe that in New York City, the pressure for success and material riches is intensified. Your “A Couple Dollars” verse captures that through storytelling. In your career and those around, how has that pressure informed decision-making?
Skyzoo: I think you hit the nail right on the head. New York has always been the home of the hustle, you get fly to go to the corner store for milk, you get sneakers a week early. It’s our makeup and is in our DNA, and that’s both a good and bad thing. We’re driven off of desires and “gettin’ it.” It makes us great, but also makes us suffer in regards to the prioritizing of certain aspects within that mentality and all.
As far as how all of the above impacts me and my music, I use it as one of the main themes of it, trying to figure out the “why” factor instead of just the “what.” I’ve always walked my own path, so if it’s affected my decision making it was my decision solely and not due to other already influenced. But to sum it up, it can definitely affect ones decision making in a fast and significant way, without a doubt.
AFH: Skyzoo, you had worked with Joell on Statik Selektah’s “Talkin’ Bout You (Ladies).” In addition to being from the same borough, you’re both image-driven MCs who bask in wordplay. Describe the chemistry you feel when you (and Apollo) decided that he would be a perfect guest on this song.
Skyzoo: When Apollo [Brown] and I first did the song I knew adding Joell [Ortiz]was the perfect person. The vibe of the song, both lyrically and sonically were right up his alley. The idea of once again “gettin’ it” and figuring out this thing called survival, across the board. Joell is a lyricist like myself so when the meeting of the minds comes through like that it’s bound to be special.
AFH: Apollo, we often hear about the hard truth. What is “the easy truth”?
Apollo Brown: “The easy truth” is what we’re given everyday. From the media, from the government, even from our peers, etc.; it’s the sugar coating. We all know that telling the real truth, the deep truth, is hard to do, especially when someone’s feelings are on the line. So, the title is a play on the surface we all seem to be allowed, while we tell it like it really is, whether through words [in the case of Skyzoo], or through emotion [found in my beats].
AFH: Skyzoo, what was it like for you to record a full length project in a metropolis away from home, especially knowing what a role your own hometown and landmarks play in your writing?
Skyzoo: For me, New York is with me no matter where I am. If I moved to another city or country, the locals would still know I’m from Brooklyn, New York, based on my demeanor, thought process, awareness, even style. It’s all evident and I’m proud of that. Writing and recording the whole album in just a week, in another city at that, made it special because I was able to talk the energy of Detroit; the people and the fabric and the way of life, and incorporate it into what I’ve always done. Detroit is a blue collar, no nonsense city, similar to New York, minus the flash we have up here. Merging the two was both and easy and rewarding process.
The Easy Truth (featuring Stalley, Patti Crash, Westside Gunn, and Conway).