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Mad Skillz

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Skillz (formerly Mad Skillz, born Donnie Shaquan Lewis in Richmond, Virginia) is an American rapper. Known as a talented freestyle rapper, Skillz has not received widespread acclaim outside of the hip-hop community, but within it is considered one of its best performers.

He first made a name for himself by finishing in second place in a national freestyle competition in 1992, which resulted in a recording contract with Atlantic Records. Skillz’ Atlantic debut, From Where???, and its single, “The Nod Factor”, were released in 1996, but sank without a trace. In the late-1990s, he allied himself with fellow Virginia natives Missy Elliott, Timbaland, and The Neptunes. He made appearances on Timbaland’s albums Tim’s Bio in 1998, and Indecent Proposal in 2001; Timbaland made plans to sign Skillz to the Blackhand label he was developing, the label failed to materialize. He along with Danja Mowf, Lonnie B, and Patrice O’Neal, members of Mad Skillz’ Supafriendz collective, also appeared on a remix of Aaliyah’s hit single “Are You That Somebody” in 1998.

More recently (2000) Skillz is known for his tell all single “Ghostwriter”. In which he names (but edits) artists for which he has written hit singles. With lines like ‘I’m a ghostwriter, I’m the cat that you don’t see/I write hits for rappers you like and charge ‘em a fee’. Un-edited versions of the track have not surfaced but Skillz is known to do a live performance in which he includes the names. In one live performance he mentions P. Diddy, Foxy Brown, Mase, and Jermaine Dupri. One artist who openly admits Skillz has written hits for him is P. Diddy.

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