"Rap Up" MC Skillz Talks Retiring, Ghostwriting and "Popcorn Music"
Skillz may not be a household name, but he's had a crazy interesting career in hip-hop. He's shared the mike on a track with Dave Chappelle, written songs for some of rap's biggest names, and beefed with Shaquille O'Neal.
www.redbullcontentpool.com Skillz performing in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, earlier this year
Had YouTube existed in 2002, Skillz may have been one of the first viral sensations. That year he started doing "The Rap Up," in which he summarizes the previous 12 months in rhyme. Waiting for the track has become a tradition for fans.
December 26 is a big day for Skillz. "The Rap Up" celebrates its 10th anniversary and his new album Thoughts Become Things drops. The album is his final release as a rapper -- December 26th is also the day he retires.
Before he calls it a career he returns to Houston Friday night to host Red Bull's Thre3style Massive event at Stereo Live. Rocks Off caught up with him one last time to talk ghostwriting, the changing trends in hip-hop, and how he wants to be remembered.
Rocks Off: So what lead to the decision to make Thoughts Become Things your final release and retire the Skillz name?
Skillz: I just felt like it was time. When I let people know my last album would have been my last album I got a lot of flak from the fans- "You're just gonna leave? You didn't even give us a heads up."
At that point I started thinking about what songs I had and how far I had come and just started thinking about if I did put together a last project what would it be? That's how I came up with Thoughts Become Things.
RO: You've said you plan to keep writing for other people. The public is pretty savvy- they know certain artists use ghostwriters. Have you seen a change in how fans perceive the act of ghostwriting?
S: I think we've come to a point in the industry where people care more about the songs than they do about the artists, where they care more about personalities than they care about actual skill. With that being said a lot of these people have businesses and companies and they're doing three or four things at a time. They don't have the time to sit down and construct a hit.
It's no different than hiring someone to do what you can't do or that you can't do at a fast rate. Not that you might not be able to do it but you might not be able to do it as fast as other people can. Some people are willing to pay for that.