good man, just been working, trying to stay busy.
"Confessions of a Ghostwriter," what's good with that?
I go out, people ask me "where the fuck is your album?" So this
is stuff I've been doing for the past two years since Rawkus folded. This
is for people that are going to appreciate the music. I'm just making
sure I stay focused.
you been doing since "From Where???" dropped?
Doing a lot
of writing. Making a lot of business moves, I've been out in L.A. a lot,
trying to get things cracking. I can't just do regular artist shit and
get regular artist money. I have to get some C.E.O. money.
talk about your other business ventures?
I just started
a film company called Big Kidz Films, that's part of my label Big Kidz
Entertainment that's distributed through Koch. I'm working on two scripts
right now. We're going to shoot a short film, and then a feature. Dealing
with some of the people that I've been dealing with in the past couple
years have definitely changed my mindset on certain things. Things won't
happen, you have to make them happen. I spent some time with Will seeing
how he operates, and it just shows you that it's possible.
you say that your whole approach and style has changed over the years?
changed over the times. I'm not the same I was in 2000 or '98. I still
have to keep the element of what people have come to know and like me
for. I'm not going to do a lot of crazy talk because that's the cool thing
to do. I'm not a killer, I'm not a thug. If you put me into the wrong
situation, I might turn into one, but I'm not known for that. That's not
what my fans have come to know me for. I'm from the school of cleverness
where you take a little more time and thought process into something before
you go and say it. That's where I'm at, and I've always been that way,
and I don't think it's ever going to change. I'm an MC's MC.
cleverness lacking in today's music?
think it is. It doesn't have a stay in Hip Hop right now. Hip Hop right
I don't even know what it is. I can't even say what it is because
I don't really know.
get frustrated that it's been so long since you put out an album?
No, I don't'
get frustrated with it because I've been constantly eating off of my craft.
It's not like I'm sitting in the corner crying about shortcomings and
what happened in the game. I love the game, but that doesn't mean it'll
love me. A lot of opportunities won't fall in your lap, you have to go
out and get them, and I've always been that type of guy. Even when I didn't
have an album out, I was on tour constantly. I'm getting money for a show
and then you have cats that have albums out that can't get shows. And
if I don't have an album out, I'll put my all into a show. Whoever I'm
opening up for, I'm trying to smash them and put on a better show than
they give. My whole mindset is that I've always had to work ten times
harder than the next man, so it's never been a big deal to me that I've
had to work hard.
It's definitely been something that's kept money in my pocket and allowed
me to live the lifestyle I live. It's a business. I don't look at it as
anything else other than a business. A lot of people ask me if I get pissed
because a record I write might do better than any record that I ever put
out. I don't get mad, because I sold that work. That body of work was
made to do what it would do. I get mad when a song I write doesn't do
well. I get mad when a song I write doesn't come out. But that's the game.
I got what I got out of it. And it's a business. Some people don't have
the time to sit down and craft a record and put a thought process into
a hook or building a song, and that's where I come in.
you can't tell us who you've been working with lately can you?
I can't really
tell. I don't have no problems with people and I don't want to ruin those
relationships. I have been down in Miami working a lot.
written for some high-profile artists though?
I have a relationship with them. It's not like I write a song for you,
you take it, and we never talk. We hang out, they see me places, and they
ask "why's he there?" But once you connect me with certain people,
then it starts to make more sense. I'm not down there just to be hanging
and blowing money. I ain't in that in-crowd where I'll get a Ferrari and
throw away cake. I'm down there to work.
lose credibility if they use ghost-writers?
how you look at it. Some of the greatest songs have been written by other
people, and no one ever cared. Not everyone can stand in front of the
camera and knock that song down. We as Hip Hop fans and artists, we're
more fickle because we feel that if it came out of your mouth, you should
have wrote it. But you have to remember, this is a business. This has
evolved to where it's not just something that you do on your block or
the corner anymore. If someone wants to pay you for your work, and you
can make a living off of it, why not do it? You would be stupid to work
doing something that you love to do, and I love Hip Hop.
ever had any experiences from ghost-writing that have made you mad?
I can't say
that I wasn't ever pissed from back in the day, that's how the whole "Ghost-Writer"
thing came about. Some of it was just fun, but some of it, I was really
trying to get a couple of people's attention. It worked out for the best.
will all of your connections that you've gained over the years be to the
album you're dropping in February?
so man. Even though I don't want to rely on my allies and the people that
I've done business with, and the people that I've become friends with
over the years
it's not going to be littered by a bunch of guest
appearances. If it feels good we'll go with it. People have definitely
waited around for me and to still be relevant in today's game, I'm very
appreciative of that. I know how things are in this game. I don't have
a problem with creating a buzz. I can always get my name popping in the
streets, because in VA, my name never stops popping. When you say "Virginia
Hip Hop," it's impossible to not name Mad Skillz. I'm happy with
that, and I'm content with that. But at the same time, there's a lot of
other things that I want to do, like film-making, writing, and working
with young talent giving other artists a chance. But none of that shit
will be possible until I get my shit up and running the way I want to,
so right now I'm just in the lab, knocking them down.
young artists are you working with?
I got a crew,
but I don't want to put it on blast yet. I just started a crew with two
other MC's called "Two Up, Two Down." I work with everybody
in this region, OK Kid, the Clipse, D.M.P., I'm allies with everybody.
I show love man. If you holler at me in the streets and you want me to
do something with you and it makes sense, I'm with it. This movement is
bigger than me or the label. We need soldiers so we can take over.
you represent to Virginia Hip Hop?
I'm the dude
that kicked in the door that made it possible for the rest of these acts.
I was the first one. The first one on a national scale. It definitely
would have been a lot harder for any other artist to come through the
door. Somebody had to do it. I'm hoping that if it ever slows down or
comes to a halt, somebody else will come through and kick in the door.
We definitely have a lot more artists on a main level than when I came
out. There was no Neptune's, no Timbaland's, no Missy's, no Clipse, no
Trey Songz, no D'Angelo's. We make our music differently. We have a different
type of approach. We have all kinds of shit being in the middle of the
East Coast, from the Down South, New York, we're right under the Gogo
Capitol, it all influences us. Sometimes you get a lot of cats that just
want to emulate and they don't have an identity so they just want to copy
what's coming out of New York or the West Coast or Down South, but that
shit never flies. The only shit that flies is what's original, like Missy,
Timbaland, the Neptunes, and D.M.P.
it going to take to push VA over the top and make it hot on a national
I think a
lot of the DJ's and the radio programmers here might want to start supporting
the music. I remember sitting down talking to Pharell when "Superthug"
came out, and nobody here would play that record. I remember him walking
up to DJ's asking "can you play my joint?" And they'd say no.
And now, that motherfucker probably gets tired of hearing his records
in the club now. The DJ's and program directors need to break records,
not just play records. Don't get me wrong, I go a lot of places, and what
I'm looking at in Virginia, it looks like niggas from other cities are
running this. But I go to Houston and there's still some stations that
aren't playing Paul Wall or Mike Jones like I thought they would be. Paul
Wall said they'd play his shit in Dallas but not in Houston. And in my
eyes, he is Houston right now. It's not really like you think it is. DJ's
and the radio programmers need to start realizing their power. Especially
the DJ, because a radio station can't survive without a DJ.
you seen Pharell and Timbaland grow over the years?
them turn into producers. These cats are producers. They craft records
from the beginning to the end. They make the beat and construct everything
with that record to make it sound sonically bigger than anything bigger
in this world. And they're not scared to try new things. That's why they're
ahead. Sometimes you have to try. I can accept trying and failing, but
I can not accept not trying. You could throw a cat up against the wall
and they'll sample that, they'll try to make that hot, and that's why
one of the first people to find out about the death of E-Skummy, what
can you tell us about him?
Aw man. Skummy,
Rest in Peace, God Bless the Dead. Skummy was a hustler, and when I say
that I mean it in a good way. When he wanted something, he would not stop
until it got finished. I admired that in him. I told him I was going to
do something for him, and he never let me forget it. He'd always be like
"dog what's up, I need that, I'm trying to make it pop." Skummy
was a cool dude and it was sad to see him go the way he went. He definitely
won't be forgotten. He's definitely one of the ones that slipped through
the cracks too early, but we won't let the people forget him.
whole beef situation with Shaq and Cory Gunz dead?
I'm not even
thinking about that guy. I got bigger fish to fry. I mean, Shaq's a big
fish, but I fried him. The crazy thing is, to this day, I don't know why
it happened. I don't know what his problem was with me, I still don't
were rumors out there that it was a set-up, can you clear that up?
I mean, first
of all, that would be one of the dumbest things in the world for me to
do. Trust me, I'm not Jay-Z, I'm not 50 Cent, but I'm not doing that bad
where I have to make up beef to sell records. Shit, I was on tour when
that record came out. If I'm going to battle someone, I at least want
it to be a good battle. Quote me on this, I don't want any props and I
didn't' get no stripes for beating the shit lyrically out of Shaq. Anybody
could have done that. I could have done that with my eyes closed, with
my hands tied behind my back, with an interpreter. That wasn't a battle,
that was fun. That shit was something to laugh at for a good 20 minutes.
But I never took him seriously.
ever see Skillz down at the Mixshow Power Summit battle?
to raise it up a bit (higher than 20G's).
anyone out there that you want to battle?
KRS, I got battle-raps for everyone in the game right now. The top-10
rappers in the game, I got at least 10 battle-raps for them dudes, just
for kicks. I'm not one of those heavy-ass battle rappers where I get so
heavy into it where I can't make songs. I was like that in '95, but now,
I concentrate more on song-writing and making sure my songs are good,
because that wasn't really a strongpoint back then. My first album was
really a bunch of battle raps in between some songs. I still keep it there
though, because I still want to be able to grab the listener. I can battle,
but I can also take the listener somewhere else and keep your attention
while you're riding in the car. I want to hold your attention with my
songs the same way I can with when I battle.
up with the Supafriendz now?
no Supafriendz. The Supafriendz are over.
fine. Me and Lonnie B are cool. We did a mixtape not too long ago. I run
into some of the other cats too, but we just went our separate ways.
you want to say to everybody out there reading this?
out September 13th, I got the new mixtape coming, "The Best of Timbaland
Collection," where it's me all over Timbaland beats. I got a DVD
coming out called "My Life, Your Entertainment" in October or
November. And I'm a C.E.O. now, so I can't tell you not to give me your
CD's, because I might be able to help. Anybody that wants to send your
CD's, send it to:
Big Kidz Entertainment
1030 Delaware Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
check the new website, skillzmusic.com. I'm also a new artist on okayplayer.com,
so I'm going to rep that too. It is what it is.