Barbaric bred Bedford Stuyvesant native Eric Eli, sat down with me to express his story of taking back the community through the power of his words and overly rated trip beat culture within Hip Hop. Born April 26th, 1986 to parents that saturated the household in the power of the gospel and a rather dominant presence of his father’s teachings of proper boy to man prosperity, Eli often found himself drowning in the paths set by choirs, hymnals and the good book.
At fifteen and unable to express his natural self and build on the power he’d ultimately come to find, he’d set expectations as an individual to be known for captivating his audience through social and political rhyming through endless bars of gripping content; suitable for only those who understand the codes of the streets. Starting off in the far ends of the adolescent crowd; in the days of Boot Camp Clik, Lost Boyz, and Wu Tang Clan, he’d start to develop skills for the craft through jokes in a cypher strictly formed by close allies or “brothers” in the hallways from junior to high school.
The closer he got to becoming a man, he’d find that the perilous life all around him would actually come to play the protagonist and feed him the facts he’d need to consider when concluding his experiences and developing perspectives of his own; often depicted in his music. It wasn’t until after graduating from Baruch College with a couple of mix tapes, a Bachelors in Communications, and the painful passing of his father, that Eli discovered his defining mold as the merciless indelible Sky-O.
Finally becoming the man he sought to grow into, wiser and more conscious to our country’s system, Eli began to transition from rhyming about the daily grind and routines geared toward the safe lit path of suits and ties to real life in his native Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood. He’d join the Harlem Children Zone teaching at risk youth from Lincoln projects to St. Nicolas projects, the power they hold within rhyming and being the faces of what’s to come for the developments of the neighborhood let alone the world.
His message was that of never succumbing to what you may hear, read or see and not believing in the hype with his psyche ode to the great Chuck D, Flava Flav and Professor Griff depicted by the metaphors of Kush sessions and cyphers among his fellow entourage. Re-introducing himself to the bully Bedstuy, Eli settled with a contentment imperative to literally separate himself from himself by sound in an artistic strategy known by many as the alter ego. With hit man Eminem’s Slim Shady LP, Eli found it imperative to create Sky-O, a character with an altered plan and uproar of fame, yet this time the only mission was to gain the ears of those yearning for a more mainstream disinfectant, replacing the sounds with the everyday vibes of 21 gun salutes, crack heads and studio sessions with Indigo, Sativa and his closest allies.
Sky-O has since become a popular sound for the Bedford Stuyvesant community in that he represents the everyday grind for the modern footprints the streets are definitely seeking to follow and respond to with songs like “Bedstuy” and freestyles like HBN. A bold and dominant sound with a sense of wisdom to heed when you hear it, this is an artist that is definitely rising in his humble path to becoming a voice that the streets of all ages can relate to, respect, vibe and progress with.
Review By Vivian Kulumba
Interview with artist, December 8, NY