We All Go Through Phases. Skizzy Mars finally releases his long-awaited “Phases” mixtape.

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The first time I heard Skizzy Mars was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. I was driving with a good friend who always seemed to have the best music, and the next track that he eagerly skipped ahead to was titled "Douchebag."   Yes, it was an extremely douchey and borderline chauvinist song, but there was undoubtedly something attractive and addicting about it.  When listening, I somehow found myself smiling, and by the end of the song, singing along with its most uttered line, “They say nice guys finish last, well, thank God I’m a douchebag.”  I was convinced it was performed by famed rapper Kid Cudi, and my eyebrows furrowed upon hearing that it wasn’t, but instead, it was by a 17-year-old high-school student from Manhattan. Well, it’s been 2 years since I first heard "Douchebag". Skizzy has released numerous singles since, including some personal favorites, "Profound," "No Curfew," and "Shangri-La."  While he’s moved on from high school to college, his drive persists and his fan base grows.  To me, Skizzy’s music has an unmatched allure to it; you want to become a part of his world, and the more ridiculous it becomes, the higher its intrigue gets.

“Phases” is the first set of tracks released by the emerging artist; it’s a mix of 14 songs, and I can assure you, it does not disappoint.  It’s an interesting blend of all rap lyrically, but laid on top of everything from electronic beats to haunting vocals, and even rustic piano melodies.  It begins with an intro titled “15,” a play off the common idea that everyone will get their “15 minutes of fame.”  He demands more than this though, opening the song with nearly a minute of slow trance that picks up to a walking pace tempo and into his first remark, “another cycle in my lifetime.”  The song accelerates as he looks back at the progress he’s made from his initial tracks up to “Phases;” he says, “look what I’ve accomplished in the past year, streams of consciousness, newfound confidence, solutions of opulence, used to the opposite.”  This quickly transitions into the pinnacle of the song, the chorus, which boasts the lyrics, “F*ck 15 minutes of fame, I want the whole crowd screaming my name, I want a chokehold over this game.”  He’s determined, and the rest of “Phases” confirms that he’s got the talent to support this drive.

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Phases continues with tracks he’s previously released such as "Sirens," "Pay For You," "The Come Down," and of course, "Douchebag."  These songs all maintain the common themes of girls, reckless partying, and power.  But Skizzy takes an unusual take on these matters, turning dating into something where the female isn’t subordinate, but rather, she’s an object of class and complexity, easily paying for herself while suppressing her insecurities.  Skizzy isn’t without his own vulnerability, though.  A later track on this mix, Delusional, begins with an andante trance beat laid over by Sterling Fox’s hypnotizing voice, “Oh, I’m so delusional.”  Skizzy explores his past decisions and his impact on the rap game; he’s self-conscious and doubtful, but at the same time, he’s more confident and prepared than he’s ever been.
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“Phases” closes appropriately with the track Phases featuring Conner Youngblood.  This is personally my favorite song on the mix tape; Youngblood opens the song, weakly singing, “Oh my God, what have I done,” over a delicate piano melody.  The combination of his fatigued vocal, and the fragile piano creates a distinct sound for the finale to the mix.  It’s broken by a drop and Skizzy’s entrance, “I’ve been making first mistakes twice.”  This is a fitting introduction for him; “Phases” is overall about life transitions and the indecisions, self-scrutiny, and ambition we face as we progress.  Phases, the track, ties all of this together into one overarching song.  Youngblood and the piano continue throughout the entire piece, but Skizzy dominates it with his thoughtful yet clever lyrics.  But to truly understand the masterpiece that is “Phases,” the mix tape, you’ll just have to listen for yourself.  You can download it for free here and see Skizzy Mars live at his upcoming tour, dates, locations, and tickets available here.

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