Album Review: Secret Agent 23 Skidoo — Mozartistic

At its best, kid-hop is a family friendly version of hip-hop, with lyrics full of universal appeal. Because while not everyone can identify with slice-of-life reality depicted in some rap and hip-hop, everyone has been a kid. Many still are.

And at its best, kid-hop takes the form of the music made by sometime Asheville resident Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. He’s been making uptempo, positive kid-hop for a decade now; his fourth album, 2014’s The Perfect Quirk earned a Best Children’s Album nomination at the annual Grammy Awards. In 2016, his album Infinity Plus One was the winner in that category.

But with his latest release, Mozartistic, Skidoo may have created his most compelling work yet. An inspired mash-up of symphonic music, beats and rapid-fire rhyming, the Mozartistic EP enlists the impressive talent of the Asheville Symphony – under the direction of conductor Daniel Meyer – along with pianist Orion Weiss, turntablist Marley Carroll, a rocking rhythm section and the production/engineering skills of Echo Mountain Recordings’ Julian Dreyer.

The disc’s five tracks offer up variations on two numbers (the title cut and “Supersonic Symphonic”), plus a thrilling reading of “Turkish March” from Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11. That work is played straight, featuring Weiss and the Symphony; though it’s sandwiched between the kid-hop tracks, it fits seamlessly and may stealthily introduce younger listeners to classical music.