“That’s my goal. To be known for something different. I want to be a pioneer in my field, of my generation.”

People love a good “follow your dreams” story — and as such, it’s a common theme in many movies and children’s stories. If you’re a hip-hop head, it’s also the common thread that many of the younger artists of today share. Unlike golden era artists, a lot of the younger rappers have seen artists reach astronomical highs. Hence, the idea that ‘you can do this too, just believe’ is prevalent. For some, though, that allure is just too strong; it’s consuming, and — if they follow their hearts — leads listeners on facing ting journeys. Logic is one example, and another is a young artist named Skiggz, who’s album The Valley Of Conduction made its way across my desk today. At a hefty 18-tracks long, it’s one year labor of love from a young artist who left his hometown of Indiana to move to the deserts of Phoenix, Arizona, to [take advantage of a chance opportunity] and pursue his passion, hip-hop.

What he delivers is an odyssey that reads as both a celebration of his dream-chasing, and an open letter that address his haters and loved ones simultaneously. Each song reads as a milestone on his year-long cross-country journey, which he describes lovingly as “Telling a story without telling a story. He kicks off the project with a blunted expedition across the desert, “Lewis & Clark.” He then gives us more insight into his origins on the — oddly endearing — “Carry On.” As he explains, his father always wanted him to carry on and not get carried away; however, the allure of seeing what else is out there, and living with the ‘what if’ was too powerful. He drops a powerful gem when he says, “If you make the move, you better find a way to prove it.” That one line sums up how this album felt, to me. Proving to himself, and everyone else, that he has what it takes.

The album seems incredibly honest, with Skiggz not being afraid to be an open book, and commit to the process. As he explains, “I got all the major keys in there.” His track, “I Been,” feat. Digitz, is an example of how candid he gets. The song [is a dis record] to rapper ESP, with whom [they] had a heavy falling out with during the course of the year. ESP, a longtime friend from the mid-west, was one of the two features on the project — and the fact that Skiggz details a falling out with him, while also featuring his vocals on the project is pretty real, TBH.

The Valley Of Conduction is a dope listen; it’s personal without being polarizing, and as individual as his experience, his journey along the road to whatever he perceives his top to be is heavily relatable. Amidst some dope sound beds, and with a cadence that almost sounds like a mixture of Young Sinatra, Logic, blended with J.Cole, the project is easy to enjoy — and worth a spot on your weekend playlist. It was Skiggz himself that says you can’t improve if you don’t have anything to prove. Well, on this LP he sounds hungry like he has everything to prove. Bonus points, it has extremely dope cover art.