Exclusive: Skillz Readies New Album, "Still Don’t Like" Shaq

Saturday, Jul 19, 2008 10:00AM

Written by Thomas A. Harden


It's been three years since VA bred emcee Skillz released a studio album, 2005's Confessions Of A Ghostwriter. Now, back off of hiatus, the lyricist - widely known for penning countless hits for the likes of Diddy and Jermaine Dupri - has returned. SOHH caught up with 12-year veteran to discuss the new project, Million Dollar Backpack, his take on the Shaq/Kobe diss and his key to longevity in hip-hop.

With over a decade in hip-hop, Skillz has been able to keep his name relevant, mostly in part, to his annual year-end "Rap Up" songs, where he chronicles the main events of the past 12 months in hip-hop. Since 2002, the magnitude of the song's popularity has risen so high that it caught the attention of acclaimed filmmaker, Chris Robinson, who shot and directed the video for last year's version for free.

"The "Rap Up's" have definitely helped to keep me in peoples minds," Skillz admits. "It has totally eclipsed what I thought it would do. At this point, it's not even a hip-hop thing. It's pop culture at this point. At one point I was against being known as the 'Rap Up' dude, but then I realized, I have this one thing that's mine and I created it and people want to hear it from me. Even if its once a year, that's a good look. I'm appreciative of that."

Skillz has many things to be thankful and he recognizes that with Million Dollar Backpack. On the set's first single titled "So Far, So Good," Skillz alongside Common and Talib Kweli, reflect on their long-successful careers.

"Me, Common and Kweli, are just reminiscing about how far we have come in this hip-hop game, 'cause this game doesn't have to be promised to any of us," he explains. "I'm real appreciative of the fact that the people still think enough of us to listen to us, to come see us, and support what we do."

In the past, Skillz has gone on record to publicly display his dislike for NBA great-turned rapper Shaquille O'Neal. However, when SOHH asked his thoughts on Diesel's freestyle diss towards former teammate and reigning MVP Kobe Bryant, Skillz surprisingly gave Shaq his props.

"Shaq is Shaq, but he did have a point," Skillz revealed. "I feel he did have a point when he said 'you can't do it without me.' As far as the rapping he was just f*cking around. I still don't like him though. We ain't friends."

Million Dollar Backpack is set to hit selves on Tuesday July 22nd via Koch Records and features appearance from DJ Jazzy Jeff, Black Thought, Common, Freeway, Talib Kweli and boast production from ?uestlove and Kwame.

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