RESPECT got a chance to catch up with Mad Skillz to discuss DJing and what makes a great emcee during part one of our interview. Today we are back with part two, discussing his illustrious career, his thoughts on some of the most memorable records in Hip Hop and why “Vinyl Destination” was the ultimate show showcasing the DJ experience.
Out of everything that you have done over the span of your career, what would you say was the most memorable moment?
That is tough because I am one of those people who doesn’t realize what I’ve done until after it’s done because I never set out to do some of the things that I have done. Like Barry Gordy didn’t set out to change Black music, he was just having fun. So when people say, “you put Virginia on the map”, it’s crazy to me, because I wasn’t trying to shit on anywhere else I was just repping where I was from.
Over your career, I know you have met a lot of people. Who is one person that you’ve met that had you a little awestruck?
I would have to say when I met Michael Jackson. I was with Missy and it was when he did the big show in 2001 at Madison Square Garden, matter of fact it was September 10, 2001; the day before 9/11 because I remember after it happened Pharrell and I were stuck in New York and were trying to get a rental car to go back to Virginia.
Ok so let’s switch gears, from time to time I like to ask emcees about classic Hip Hop joints and where they were when they first heard it, so let’s start with “Put Ya Hands Where My Eyes Can See” by Busta Rhymes?
That came out in ‘97, I was in Virginia at the time and I first heard it on a DJ Clue mixtape, but I didn’t understand the impact of it until I was at this party and DJ S&S was mixing. It was cool, you know everyone was chilling and socializing, I think “DeJa Vu” was playing, then all of a sudden the drums came in on Busta’s intro and everyone ran to the dance floor and he pulled it back. [Laughs] Man, I knew then Busta had a certified banger.
How about “Takeover” by Jay Z?
Aww man, I heard that on the bootleg before the joint came out because my homeboy did the intro for The Blueprint, but I remember thinking, “it’s over for Nas, Nas is done”. But then Nas came back with Ether and I was like, “gawt damn!”
That leads to the next joint, “Ether”…
I heard it on a mixtape, because my homeboy was like, “have you heard the new Nas?” Personally, I was like I don’t care what Nas says he ain’t coming back from that; because you know Nas was so laid back and you didn’t expect that from him. But my homeboy was persistent and yo, when I heard that joint and the beat dropped and he started going in; I was like, “yo, this n*gga is back!”
Finally, where were you when you heard “I Used to Love H.E.R” by Common?
Oh that’s easy. It was college radio, WDCE 90.1, Mike Street was DJing when he played it and I remember I was so caught up in the story and when he revealed at the end the whole time he was talking about Hip Hop; I was mind blown. I was like, “hold up, run that shit back”, because that was the first time that someone had “usual suspect” me in a record. I mean that joint had me so intrigued and the way he worded it was dope.
Looking back at Hip Hop back in the day, who do you think had the potential but for whatever reason didn’t blow?
I would definitely say Shawnna (from DTP). She had all the elements, she had sex appeal and she could really rap.
You traveled a lot over the past few years with DJ Jazzy Jeff and the “Vinyl Destination” series. Why was that never brought to TV?
I stopped touring with Jeff a few years ago, but I was saying then that we need to look at taking this to TV because I know they would have a place for it. Also, I have to shout out Chris Schaffer for the phenomenal work he does. Looking at it, you would have thought we had a crew, but it was actually just one guy and that was Chris. He’s so dope though that he made it look like we had several. One thing I noticed is that I didn’t know we were impacting as many DJs as we did, when I arrived today for my show I saw a guy had on the Vinyl Destination t-shirt, it’s crazy.
Being a veteran emcee, DJ and overall music lover, what element of Hip Hop from back in the day would you bring to the current state of Hip Hop if you had your choice?
The rule of no biting. Now you can bite someone and it’s nothing, like you can literally take someone’s whole shit. But people don’t realize that it started when emcees were quoting lines from other rappers and some people you wouldn’t question because you knew that the rapper being quoted was cool with that person; so when Jay quoted Biggie, no one said anything because we knew they were cool. But now people will literally copy your whole swag and try to tell you that it’s theirs and it’s acceptable. Like they don’t even go back far enough to know who did it first.
You have been doing a lot lately with the mashups, namely Michael Jackson and Prince, almost all of your events have sold out; is that something you plan on doing every year?
Honestly, I have been thinking about it because that it the type of music that needs to be heard and I know there are a lot of Prince and MJ fans out there who would love to hear them included in sets. Most of the time when you hear old school sets, especially where I’m from, they all sound the same. They usually start with “Outstanding” (by the Gap Band), then it’s going to go into “Before I Let Go” (by Frankie Beverly and Maze) and then you are going to hear “Poison” (by BBD) and I’m like yo, there’s more music than this and that’s why “The Art of Noise” events work, because we play what everyone else doesn’t play.
Your events are always so packed, when is the next one that fans can see you rocking at?
The next big one I am doing is in VA on September 18th called SBV, Surrounded By Virginia, which is playing all Timbaland and The Neptunes because many people don’t know that Magoo, Timbaland and Pharrell were in a group back in the day called SBI, Surrounded By Idiots, so it’s a play off of that letting people know who Virginia really is.
In the next five years, where do you see yourself?
World domination. My goal is to let the music to speak for itself. I want my music to be so far ahead of anything that I ever thought I could do like I want to have the number one record in the country as Mad Skillz the DJ, but people wouldn’t know that it was me, the rapper.
Let’s touch on your social media game, your Instagram account stays popping, but your Snapchat is so hilarious and cool because it’s you being normal. Are you planning on being on Snapchat more often than just on Snapchat Friday?
[Laughs] I thought my snaps were corny because I was just doing regular shit. I am such a private person and I honestly like to keep certain parts of my life private, so I try to scale back as much as I can because if it’s done too often it becomes normal. So many people act like that having a lot of followers online is the end all be all of their life. [laughs] Let one of these rappers wake up and all their followers are gone, they will lose their minds.
Do you think that social media has given people a false sense of celebrity?
I think that people confuse followers with support because artists will have 30,000 followers but sell two records, that means they don’t support you. People don’t realize how it was back in the day, like I actually had to go to the show in 1996 and see A Tribe Called Quest, wait at the back door and hope to see them and if you missed it you had to take people’s word for what happened on the play by play; they don’t have to do that anymore.
Last but not least, what is one thing about Skillz that no one knows you can do?
I cook. I love to cook and I can make a mean lasagna.
Keep up with the latest from Mad Skillz online at http://www.gotmadskillz.com/
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