Skillz Has Released His 20th & Final Rap Up

In recent years, Skillz continues to diversify. The Virginia mainstay has expanded from elite lyricist (and longtime ghostwriter) to DJ. He maintains a role in academia, working with the University Of Richmond faculty. During the 25 years since From Where???, the MC created Hip-Hop Confessions, building a platform for peers to tell important histories from the music and culture.

Hip-Hop Heads often think of Skillz with a new calendar year, as the veteran has spent the 2000s recapping years with his annual “Rap Up.” Approaching the end of 2021, Shaquan Lewis was approached by The Shade Room, asking for an exclusive clip. Skillz posted the DM conversation to social media, as a writer repeatedly asked for the goods. Skillz reminded the staff member that he arranged the incredible JAY-Z Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame video vignette—assembling Jay bars to rhyme—that were delivered by Beyoncé, Lebron James, Rihanna, Questlove, DJ Premier, Samuel L. Jackson, and over three dozen others. In the DM Skillz was about his business, and nudged the top gossip publication to show some more respect before approaching him with such an ask.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by MAD SKILLZ (@skillzva)

JAY-Z Is Inducted Into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame By More Than 40 Stars

So instead, in the days that followed, Skillz did what he has done for 20 years—gave his Rap Up to the fans, in full—and for free. This year’s version comes over JAY-Z’s “Encore” instrumental (as produced by Kanye West). The move is calculated, with Skillz reminding Heads that he did important work with Jay in 2021, and channeling Hov’s famed 2003 album-retirement campaign. “Thank You for rocking with me for 20 years! This is the last one. Mad Skillz Out! *mic drop*,” he wrote on Instagram.

Now I ain’t sure what next year got in store / But after this, there will be no more,” he begins in the Rap Up, reworking Shawn Carter’s catchy lyrics. The 2021 rendition works chronologically—and it does not duck from the bad or the ugly topics. The song addresses January 6’s Washington, D.C. insurrection, Ted Cruz’s trip to Mexico during Texas’ freeze-out, and Inauguration Day. He raps, “Biden got in and lifted our spirits / But he only got in because of Kamala Harris / We needed a woman Vice President / But the joke’s on us, ’cause we ain’t seen her since.

The 14 Best Rap Albums Of 2021…What Did We Miss

Moving to music, Skillz plugs his Drink Champs appearance, shouts out the fallen Hip-Hop artists, and big-ups Lil Nas. Skillz drops another controversial bar when he raps, “I’m gonna predict this play: / Y’all really gonna be mad when y’all find out he was never gay.” Skillz also calls Coming 2 America “wack.” Along the way, Skillz makes reference to cancel-culture, vaccine controversies, and Bill Cosby’s early prison release. The Hip-Hop bits continue to reign supreme, as Skillz raps, “It’s a damn shame what I saw The LOX do to Dipset / When ya swag can’t save ya / How did Cam’ get out-Cammed by Jada?” Skillz sticks it to Derek Chauvin, Kyle Rittenhouse, and DaBaby along the way.

In the closing moments of the video, Skillz celebrates moments from his career beyond the Rap Ups—including the 2021 JAY-Z task. He also weaves in a reminder that he is a pioneer, and others are copycats—calling them his “kids” while their faces show on the screen (in a piece edited by past Ambrosia For Heads‘ “Ready Or Not” artist Michael Millions). Heads now know that JAY-Z’s “Encore” was far from the end. So it will take another year to learn if Skillz’ holiday tradition is really a wrap. He uses the Jay play of putting it to the fans to make some noise.

Skillz Is Back And He’s Bringing Mad FUNK (Video)

#BonusBeat: AFH‘s What’s The Headline podcast examines the biggest stories and best Hip-Hop albums of 2021: