Born in Detroit, but moved to Richmond, Virginia at a young age, Shaquan Lewis A.K.A. Mad Skillz, or Skillz made a name for himself when he was awarded second place in a national freestyle competition losing to MC Supernatural. From there he landed a deal with Atlantic Records and in 1995 dropped his first album, From Where???, which is now considered a collectors item. The title references the fact that there was virtually nothing hip hop coming out of Virginia in the early 90’s.

The Nod Factor, produced by the Beatnuts was the hit single on the album, and contains a sample of “Superman Lover” by Johnny “Guitar” Watson (from the 1976 album “Ain’t That a Bitch“). Skillz has performed with The Roots, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Jay-Z, Will Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and DJ AM, among others. It is said that he was a Ghostwriter for some of the biggest names in the hip hop industry. He is also the creator of The Rap Up series, a song that he releases at the end of every year that recaps the events of that year in song format.

Nowadays you can check out Skillz on his own website where he interviews real hip hop heads, and gets them to share one of their deepest secrets. or stories never told.



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