Lyrical legend isn’t a title given freely in Hip Hop, but when it comes to the lyrical talent of Virginia-bred emcee Mad Skillz, that is an understatement. After dominating the rap game for more than 20 years, becoming the most infamous ghostwriter in the game and blessing fans with the long awaited year-end rap-ups, Skillz has successfully transitioned into a new arena, the art of DJing. After successfully crossing over to where few artists have dared to go, Skillz has toured with Nicki Minaj and rocked some of the biggest parties in the world.
Now celebrating his third year as a turntable master, Skillz is once again showing fans that he can’t be boxed in. With the launch of his own radio show on the Beat Junkies Radio station powered by Dash Radio, “Skillz Sets”, which debuted Friday (Sept. 9), with co-hosts Danja Mowf and Mo Wit The Info; Skillz is giving fans a refreshing new show that features a perfect blend of Hip Hop, great chemistry, and hot topics.
RESPECT got a chance to catch up with Mad Skillz to discuss DJing, what makes a great emcee and why his Snapchat Friday is the coolest thing on social media.
You recently celebrated your third year anniversary of officially becoming a DJ, how does it feel to be so successful in such a short amount of time and how are you dealing with the haters?
Skillz: I mean the fact I made this far is pretty dope and I am excited about that. One thing I have realized is that doing something that people tell you couldn’t do is definitely gratifying and satisfying.
You’ve already spun at a packed out arena with Nicki Minaj, what is your next goal to tackle as a DJ?
I definitely plan to put out original music. I write a lot of songs and some are never heard. I have a few joints that I feel would have legs on their own, so I think I will definitely start putting out some original music in the fall. In fact, I have a record right now that I know could go like right now. With my new project, what’s going to shock people the most is the type of music that it will be because it won’t be Hip Hop. These songs are worldly songs, you know the type you can play for your kids or that soccer moms will play; it’s just feel good music and that’s type of music that I want to put out as a DJ.
With this new project, will this be a mixtape in the traditional sense or something different?
It will probably be free, it won’t be an album but it will definitely be enough songs for an EP. Although it’s a free project, I am going to still treat it like an album, by shooting videos for it and including original content. The goal is to reach people who have no idea that I am the same Mad Skillz that does the year end rap-up or that I have been in the game since the 90s.
With the original content, does that mean we will get a song or two with you back on the mic?
Probably not and one of the main reasons is that I honestly don’t have the passion for it anymore like I used to. I told myself a long time ago that the minute it stops being fun, I would stop because I never wanted to be one of those rappers who was a slave to it and felt like they had to make music or put stuff out when my heart wasn’t in it. Honestly, the further I get from rap the easier it will be for people to accept what I am doing now because I don’t want to confuse people at all.
One thing I have noticed watching your career over the last few years and the events that you are putting together is that you are focusing a lot more on soul music. Even with your impromptu DJ sessions, you are teaching the younger generation the foundation by playing the original Soul sample before transitioning into the Hip Hop song. With that being said are you hoping to decrease the surge of mumble rappers?
I tell people all the time that I don’t think anything stays the same. If Hip Hop still sounded the same it did when you and I first heard it, it would be boring. We loved it, we had our time with it, but it’s theirs now. It’s a different regime, now maybe they should call it something different so it can take away from the expectation that comes with Hip Hop music. I mean as an emcee I don’t particularly like it but if they called it something else, it would be easier to be like, “Oh, that’s what they are doing.”
Do you think because they are labeled as Hip-Hop that our level of expectations may be a little unfair to the newer generation?
I do, because I was reading something on, I think it was Lil’ Yachty, but people were mad because he couldn’t name five Biggie songs and I am looking at the situation like, “He’s 19!” He makes turn up records and records to get people lit, the fans listening to those types of records aren’t listening to them for lyrical content.
With the reduction of the skills required for an emcee and the increase of interest in production, do you think that the DJ is starting to be the main attraction again?
I feel like the DJ never lost his shine because the DJ is the cornerstone. He played the music that the rappers rap to, he played the records that the breakers break to, so you could never ex the DJ out of Hip Hop history because it started with the DJ. Without the DJ to make the pause tapes and DJs like (DJ Grandmaster) Flash and (DJ Kool) Herc, there would be no Hip Hop, but the idea is to expand, so each DJ and artist was responsible for bringing something to the culture; whether it was looping it, or adlibs, we all have the responsibility of making Hip Hop evolve.
Music is a universal language, I have been all over the world and one thing I have noticed is that I could be somewhere where no one speaks not one bit of English, but they know “In Da Club” by 50 Cent because music is that powerful.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second part of RESPECT’s one on one with Mad Skillz; in the meantime check out Skillz Sets on Dash Radio LIVE every second and 4th Friday of the month 5p-7p EST. To catch last week’s premiere click here or stream it below.
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