DJ Mad Skillz
Skillz was born June 2, 1974 in Detroit, Michigan, and after spending his early childhood in Fayetteville, North Carolina he then moved to Richmond, Virginia at a young age. He credits Run DMC for getting him involved in hip hop as a child. He fell in love with the culture and immediately began to practice all four elements religiously. He is credited for putting Virginia on the hip hop map as he was the first artist to break out nationally from the state. He first made a name for himself by finishing in second place (Losing to MC Supernatural) in a national freestyle competition, which eventually resulted in a recording contract with Atlantic Records. At this time he went by the stage name Mad Skillz rather than just Skillz. Mad Skillz' Atlantic debut album, From Where???, and its single, "The Nod Factor", were released in 1996, but neither received much commercial or critical attention. The album's title was a reference to the regionalism in hip-hop, and at the time the state of Virginia did not have a large hip-hop scene. In the late-1990s more of a Virginia scene emerged, and 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; however, this label failed to materialize. He along with Danja Mowf, Lonnie B, and Kalonji The Immortal, members of 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". Within this single, he names (but his label edited out) artists for which he has written hit singles. It has alluding lines such as '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'. Unedited 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, Will Smith and Jermaine Dupri. One artist who openly admits Skillz has written hits for him is P. Diddy.
Skillz eventually got a deal with Rawkus, where he recorded his 2002 LP I Ain't Mad No More, the title of which commemorated the official change of his MC moniker from "Mad Skillz" to just "Skillz." The aforementioned LP was never officially released in the U.S., however, during the Sprite Liquid Mix Tour in 2003 he sold some bootleg versions of this CD. The CD was re-packaged without several tracks as "Confessions Of A Ghostwriter" in 2005. A Supafriends LP, Supavision, and another solo LP. A client for the Mama's Boys management company which also includes Musiq, Skillz has been a featured artist at okayplayer.com, run by Questlove of The Roots. Since the year 2002 Skillz has done a year end "Rap-Up" song that encapsulates the events of the prior 12 months. These have been well received among fans. Also, after the conclusion of the HBO series The Wire, Skillz released "The Wire: 5 Seasons in 5 Minutes."
He is the creator of the web series "Hip Hop Confessions", a series of shows that gathers hip hop purists and hip hop lovers alike where they reveal something hip hop related that they have never told anyone. The show has featured Q-Tip, Peanut Butter Wolf, Kwamé and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
He has performed and collaborated with The Roots, Nas, Missy Elliott, Cee Lo Green, Diddy, Raheem Devaughn, Musiq Soulchild, Pharrell Williams, Bilal, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Q-Tip, Large Professor, Chris Brown, Freeway, Travis Barker, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Jazze Pha, Will Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and DJ AM, among others.
The Scritti Politti Cd Single for 'Boom Boom Bap' features a track written as a collaboration between Skillz and Scritti frontman Green Gartside entitled 'Hands Up' and credited to Skillz'n'Green. The single was released in the UK in 2006.
Skillz's latest album was released Dec. 30th 2014 and was entitled Made In Virginia produced entirely by Bink Dog. He said he has no plans to return to rapping after releasing that project. He is also the founder of the supergroup, Supafriendz V.A. Playaz, with Timbaland, Magoo, N.E.R.D., Fam-Lay and Clipse. He has recently gone back to his original moniker Mad Skillz and has returned to producing and deejaying.
DJ Rhettmatic (born Nazareth Rhett Nirza) is a member of the Beat Junkies DJ crew. Rhettmatic began his DJ career in 1983 with the DJ group Double Platinum, and was one of the founding members of Beat Junkie crew.
In 1995, Rhettmatic released an album with partner, KeyKool (MC/Producer), Kozmonautz. Key-Kool & Rhettmatic's album is regarded as one of the first nationally recognized hip-hop albums by an Asian-American group, and received critical acclaim by notable hip-hop publications such as the Source Magazine, Rappages, Rap Sheet, URB Magazine.
In 1996, Rhettmatic claimed the title of DMC (Disco Mix Club) West Coast Champion, and in 1997 along with fellow Beat Junkies DJ Babu, DJ Melo-D and DJ J-Rocc, claimed the title of ITF (International Turntablist Federation) Team World Champions.