The Re-evolution Has Begun

Skyscraper Stereo, one of the most popular hip-hop acts in Louisville music history, returns with their latest full-length, “Scrape or Die!,” this week with a release show on Friday at the New Vintage. The Voice-Tribune connected with crew member Daniel Guess, a.k.a. Goodbar, to learn what’s up.

Skyscraper StereoHow was your Forecastle?

Forecastle was perfect. I didn’t know that the city of Louisville was ready to receive a collective of homegrown hip-hop artists in that capacity. I underestimated what we could accomplish as a unit. That was a milestone for Louisville hip-hop as a whole, not just for the acts chosen to perform that particular set. Dr. Dundiff’s selfless act created a movement. The majority of us have collaborated and supported one another on some level or another, but on that stage we became a family.

Which year has been better for you so far, 1995 or 2015?

I feel like 1995 was an amazing year altogether for the entertainment industry and those who wanted to be entertained. It just so happens that we have a song on “Scrape or Die!” entitled “Party Like ’95” where we each confess our obsession for pop culture, music, clothing and the like from ’95. The hook may or may not reference the O.J. Simpson trial … and, yes … he was innocent.

All jokes aside, with our fourth LP on the stove, that epic Forecastle experience a few weeks ago and the thriving Louisville hip-hop scene as a whole, this year has been very prosperous so far as well.

How did each group member contribute to make this record what it is? What’s everyone best at?

Chuck MF Deuce (CMFD) is the quarterback when it comes to Skyscraper Stereo … Dat Boi Dunn (DBD) and I typically go into Skyscraper recording sessions with eager ears, open minds and lots of blind faith. It’s not uncommon for the two of us to hear something Chuck is working on and think, “Where is he going with this?” or “How am I supposed to rap to this?” The irony is that most of the tracks we’re apprehensive about end up being our favorites when we hear the finished product … Chuck is constantly looking to improve as a musician. For this album, he decided to stray away from sampling. Legally, that’s a great idea, but it will also help him to develop a signature sound. He also told us that he wants every song on this album to be a single. Maybe I’m a little biased, but he may have actually pulled that off!

CMFD provided the backdrop and his stories about high school crushes and sucka emcees. DBD and myself polished up our metaphors about sex, drugs and Nike SBs. And the product was “Scrape or Die!”

DBD is the personality of the group. Whether it’s his stage presence or catchy hooks (which he can come up with in his sleep), he’s just an undeniably lovable guy. Don’t confuse that for lack of lyrical prowess, though. Ya boy gets right … His progression is evident on this new album.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m the lyricist. I’m very humble, but a few people have told me I’m pretty decent at what I do. Who am I to argue? Nothing out of the ordinary from me on this album, as far as what I offer. Just the usual under-your-ground, over-your-head raw.

The beauty of Skyscraper, in my personal opinion, is we have polar-opposite musical influences, but somehow we mesh. Everyone contributed their all to this project. I can’t forget about AK, our DJ. He has a cameo on the album and we’re thankful that he’s behind us, literally and figuratively.

The production on “Scrape or Die!” sounds more pop to me than previous albums. Are you guys trying to expand your audience this way, or is it a more natural progression (a re-evolution)?

I think it’s more of CMFD broadening his horizons as a producer. Rap music has never even really been his first choice of genre. He plays a mean guitar (check the solo on “Ya Boy Gets Right”). We welcome a wider demographic, but at the same time, we don’t want to lose loyal fans by changing our formula. After all, that’s the definition of selling out. It’s safe to call it a re-evolution.