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Detroit, Michigan, United States | INDIE

Detroit, Michigan, United States | INDIE
Band Hip Hop Spoken Word


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Zhao-Ski Beyond the Obvious"

If you are a fan of lyrical, conscious rap and haven't heard of Subterraneous Crew and/or its members like: One.Be.Lo, Magestick Legend, etc, you likely aren't a very music-hungry fan. Zhao-Ski hails from this army of lyricists and beat makers and comes pretty solid with this solo effort.

Being one of Metro-Detroit's best producers and engineers definitely aided him on this release, as the beat breaks, intricate mixes and overall layout of "Beyond..." give it its own individual feel. While he did most of his own production on this disc, the best instrumental on it is the one made by Decompoze, (also of "Sub T"), for "The Greatest Show on Earth". This one brought back memories of The Rza's best and Premier's Golden-Era production. Zhao does this beat justice as he shits on wack emcees in a more unique way than most would. "Maintain" stands out due to its lyricism, (ex: "Every day, we're bombarded by images that's retarded; it's been going on for so long, I couldn't tell you where it started"), and DJ Defiant's scratches; which give it a "Resurrection" feel.

Some of the tracks are a bit short but they seem to work, as he lets the great instros play out; like on "Off to Battle", the first actual cut on the album. "Change/Revolution" has a touch of vintage Hi-Tek production and some real-life wisdom therein like, "Tryin to come up is like climbin out your own grave".

As a matter of fact, Zhao's flow, beat selection and topic choices seem to remind you of Rawkus Records' short reign at the top of conscious-yet-commercially-successful hip hop. So, anyone that wants to hear a message and a great, seamless flow would be more than happy with this release. Many times, the MC has a flow similar to Rakim's, and that is when he is at his mic-commanding best.

Another thing that stood out to me on this release was the fact that the profanity was edited out. This kind of made me feel that Zhao likes to practice what he preaches, even on tracks that address very intense things and stories that contain a criminal element.

Toward the end of the album on "The Movie of the Week", he chooses a great upbeat sample and brings a perfect hook. He goes back to his younger and less-wise days during Y.B.I.'s hold on Detroit and lets you know that yes, he has run the streets but he has grown from the experience and, when he is giving you advice, he likely knows what he is talking about.

There are even tracks on the album that have no words at all, and that is where he reminds you that he is talented enough in the beatmaking field to hold it down and entertain you without saying anything.

Artistically, this album is pretty cohesive and creative in its own right. Sonically, it is as close to perfect as any recent Detroit release. As far as entertainment value, sure, there are people who made need more violence, women and lies to remain interested, but the wisdom within the verses on this disc make up for most of that. And, if other listeners are anything like me, the way in which Zhao speaks his wisdom will likely open their minds and make them think a bit clearer and with more of an open mind.

Score: 3.5 of 5. - Bigg Verb


2000 The Black Operation E.P. by Zhao-Ski
2002 The Day That Changed The World by S.H.Y.Q.U.A.N. Featuring Zhao-Ski
2006 Choice Cuts Vol.1 Mix Tape by Zhao-Ski
2007 Beyond the Obvious by Zhao-Ski
2010 Conscious Gangsta with MC Big A
2011 School Rules with MC Big A
2013 ANTI-Scene 12" Ep



Zhao-Ski has been a fixture in the Detroit underground scene for some time now, first starting out as a DJ at the age of 14. His influence from classic Hip Hop, early Detroit Techno and Chicago House music has helped shape his views and appreciation for his surroundings that inspired the music. Once known as DJ T.E.C.H. (The Extraordinary Chosen Hands) Zhao joined forces with his high school friend Eric (a.k.a. Swift MC) and formed the duo "Swift & T.E.C.H." After high school the group parted ways, Zhao changed his DJ name to "Mista Madd Skillz" and landed a residency at a nightclub in Canada all the while moving to the forefront by writing and performing his own raps in his spare time. While perfecting his craft Zhao also studied the Hip Hop business as well as the culture for many years reinforcing the idea of being self contained by learning the D.I.Y. work ethic so he would't have to rely on other to move forward.

In 1998 Zhao-Ski started his own label and production company...Black Operation Records. Around that time he became apart of the Track-e-Zoid production team which consist of OneBeLo, Decompoze and Malachi the Most Hi to name a few. Collectively they produced music for the Terrorist Records Camp (Binary Star), Subterraneous Crew, K.I.C. Sounds and many others throughout the local, national and international underground scene. Zhao-Ski being a fast learner was ahead of the curve recording his solo album "Beyond the Obvious" in his apartment back in 2000 on his home computer before it was popular to do so, in the process he learned to engineer in the digital realm and became the go to guy for his comrades in his collective and throughout the local underground scene.

After participating in a number of now classic recordings Zhao-Ski was becoming pretty comfortable behind the scenes (and the boards) until he met Lebanese born aspiring emcee Big A, who encouraged Zhao to return to the forefront and help produce and release Big A’s debut "Conscious Gangsta". Shortly after that he met his hometown Techno heros Underground Resistance (UR) which lead to an alliance that will transition Black Operation Records into it's next chapter with the upcoming release of "The ANTI-Scene 12 inch vinyl Ep".