Skyzoo and Torae - Barrel Brothers (Album Review)

Skyzoo and Torae - Barrel Brothers (Essence of Hip-Hop)

"Barrel Brothers" is the first collaborative album between Brooklyn hip-hop artists Skyzoo and Torae. The album features guest appearances from Sean Price, Guilty Simpson, Sha Stimuli, Blu and others as well as production from Illmind, Black Milk, DJ Premier, Oh No and others. It was released on May 27, 2014 via First Generation Rich Inc / Internal Affairs Ent / Loyalty Digital Corp / EMPIRE Recordings.


1) Intro - Skit.

2) Talk Of The Town - The first song on the album features Skyzoo and Torae spitting fire over a head nodding Oh No instrumental with reverberating acoustic guitars layered over gritty drums. The beat is real nice and both emcees rip it, kicking some braggadocios rhymes about how ill they are in this hip-hop shit. Dope track. - 3.75/5

3) Make You A Believer - Jahlil Beats comes through and delivers an almost ominous instrumental full of resonant bells and chimes over deep 808 bass drums. I'm feelin' the darker vibe of the beat on this cut and both emcees sound great over it, kicking some more battle raps about how real they are and such. This shit is ill. - 4/5

4) Tunnel Vision - The Illmind beat on this track is kinda dark as well, with some uneasy synths over a subtle vocal loop and a hard ass snare. The instrumental is kinda dope though and incorporates a sample from Digable Planets classic hip-hop track "Rebirth Of Slick" during hook, which is a nice touch. As far as the rhymes go, both Skyzoo and Torae come correct and spit more of the boastful bars that have made up a majority of the project so far. - 3.5/5

5) Blue Yankee Fitted - This was the first single released from the album and its real dope, with both Skyzoo and Torae repping their city and rhyming about the violent streets of New York over another head nodding Illmind instrumental. The beat is crazy, with a muted horn sample and head nodding drums, and both emcees flow nicely over it. I'm feelin' this one a lot. - 4.25/5



6) All In Together (featuring Sean Price and Guilty Simpson) - This song is basically a Random Axe track featuring Torae and its absolute fire. The beat, by Black Milk, is simply beautiful, with some somber strings, violins and subtle horns over boom-bap drums. Luckily the rhymes are just as strong, with everyone on here ripping their verses. These guys seriously need to collaborate more often. This one's a banger. - 5/5

7) Triangle Offense (featuring Sha Stimuli) - Illmind returns to production duties on this track and delivers another dope beat with some distorted guitars, pianos, synths and chants in the background. You know everyone on this cut is going to rip it lyrically and they definitely do, with all three emcees kicking some more boastful rhymes full of witty punchlines and metaphors. Sha Stimuli especially is on point here, spitting in a rapid-fire flow and riding the beat beautifully. Another dope track. - 3.75/5

8) Movie Album (Skit) - This joint is labeled as a skit, but its really more like a full song since it's almost four minutes long. The beat, by Aréli1, is real laid back and Torae and Skyzoo both just have fun over it. Eh, I guess I won't rate this one since it thinks its a skit. It's really not though.

9) Albee Square Mall (featuring Livin Proof) - Skyzoo and Torae team up with Living Proof as all three emcees rhyme about living in Brooklyn, NY and about being a product of the 80's over a head nodding Praise instrumental. The beat is a banger, with some pianos, synths and hard ass rolling drums, and all of the verses are definitely on point. Dope track. - 4/5

10) The Hand Off - Khrysis and Cyrus The Great collaborate on the instrumental for this track, which starts off with a crazy piano loop, some horns and a vocal sample that had me nodding my head right out of the gate. The beat switches up a few minutes into the track to either be slower or to have a different pitch and that's when the instrumental becomes really great. Both parts are ill, but I'm really diggin' that beat switch. As for the rhymes, there isn't much else to say that hasn't been said before. Dope shit. - 3.75/5

11) 4 Bar Friday - Skyzoo and Torae trade off verses over a really nice instrumental from The Stuyvesants that is made up of a soulful sample and boom-bap drums. Both of these guys sound really good together, but their verses tend to blend together a bit due to the similar voices. Still, this shit is very nice. - 3.75/5

12) Memorabilia - AntMan Wonder comes through with his first contribution to the album and it's real dope. The beat is centered around a jazzy horn sample and ill bass riff that definitely ups the energy level. Lyrically the song is just as nice, with Zoo and Toreezy rapping about how they are legends in this hip-hop shit while using a ton of sports and Hall of Fame references. This ones a banger. - 4.25/5

13) Rediscover (featuring Blu) - The Barrel Brothers hook up with West Coast hip-hop veteran Blu as all three emcees spit some introspective bars over a soulful sample by MarcNfinit. The beat is real laid back and relaxing and everyone comes correct over it, as should be expected. Yet another really good track. - 4/5

14) The Aura - The final song on the album features a blazing instrumental by legendary hip-hop producer DJ Premier (who shares co-production credits with AntMan Wonder on here). The beat is banging, containing traces of that signature Primo sound while still managing to sound fresh at the same time. Lyrically the song is just as nice, with both Skyzoo and Torae rhyming about the aura of greatness that surrounds them. This shit is fire and is easily one of my favorite tracks on here. - 5/5

*The following track is a bonus song on the iTunes Deluxe version of the album.*

15) Got It From Here - The first and only bonus track on the project features production from Apollo Brown and it's definitely full of his signature style, with a chopped up horn sample layered over boom-bap drums. Lyrically the track is about the same as all of the others, with Torae and Skyzoo flowing effortlessly over the instrumental while letting the listeners know they are in good hands. I couldn't agree more. - 4/5

I'm going to rate the album

4 / 5

because I'm really feelin' most of the tracks on here. The beats are very nice throughout the entire project, with mostly all of them having that gritty, NY boom-bap feel while still managing to sound modern at the same time. Lyrically the album is just as strong, with Torae and Skyzoo spitting bar after bar of braggadocios rhymes that are teeming with NY slang. Their voices and flows compliment each others perfectly, which can actually be a little bit of a downside because it can cause the verses to start to blend together after a while. That's just me being really nitpicky though, since the album comes together very nicely and is full of quoteables, ill punchlines and head nodding beats.

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