[Editor's Note: I added Chris Skillz on the Breeding Ground Showcase at SXSW headlined by Raekwon and Talib Kweli at the last possible moment. Chris was ready to rip the stage. When I saw him as one of my opening acts, I knew had to get him in the Breeding Ground. His name is a great way to summarize his gift, this dude has skills! - Steve Raze]
If you caught the Breeding Ground showcase at SXSW this year, then chances are that you saw a glimpse of rapper Chris Skillz. Hailing from Dover, Delaware, Chris has been active over the past few years, releasing several mixtapes and videos that have generated his buzz to date. In addition to having had several guest appearances on MTV and Sirius radio, Chris has been speaking at various school about some of his dealings with suicide and depression to child molestation.
AllHipHop.com: How were you introduced to Hip-Hop and what kind of outlets are there for the music in Delaware?
Chris Skillz: At age 13, 7th grade, I began writing down my thoughts and writing down lyrics just to help channel what I was going through. And I was playing sports but still writing. Then I turned 18 and I was able to get into the city element, the rest is history. I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. To be honest, there isn’t a whole lot of outlets in Delaware. You gotta kinda use the web to your advantage. How I got my fanbase is just solely going to shows, handing out CD’s, interacting with people, and just using the internet. Delaware’s small so it’s kind of hard to maneuver around here.
AllHipHop.com: That said, touring must have a huge part in the building of your buzz. Have you been able to perform on the road much?
Chris Skillz: I actually opened for Mobb Deep, it was in Baltimore. They’re like my idols, I grew up on them. You know, Delaware, we’re like two hours away from everything. So, going to New York and performing in different shows, Connecticut, Philadelphia, just all over. SXSW was probably one of my biggest accomplishments performing. That sh*t was amazing. Unfortunately, I was sick. I had just got out the hospital at 9 in the morning, and then the show was at 8PM. We went this Shade 45 thing with Sway, showed love. Then we did the Breeding Ground show and the response was crazy. The crowd was very open to the type of music that I was bringing, and then as soon as I walked off stage everyone showed love. I was able to sell some CD’s, people were buying me shots. It was definitely one of my best experiences as an artist.
AllHipHop.com: You’re open about sharing different stories and issues in your lyrics. How have you gotten to be comfortable with sharing your story with the world? And what has the result been?
Chris Skillz: It’s just my whole life I was one of those kids that held it in, you know, what I’ve been through, or whether it’s suicidal thoughts and molestation. As an adult now, my craft… it allows me to express myself. And I’m thinking, you know, when I’ve been through this stuff, I dwell on this stuff but maybe I can help someone who’s going through the same thing – by using hip-hop, you know, what I love to do. Because not everybody in hip-hop talks about being molested, talks about suicide, and stuff like that. So, you know, maybe I can be that voice for someone who is going through that right at the moment to let them know that it’s okay. You know, there’s other people that go through that, and, you know, people will listen. And then, as far as what I talk about, and it’s helped me personally because I still deal with a lot of those issues to this day. But then it also allowed me to be able to go to my old High School, which is one of my biggest accomplishments, to talk to the kids seven straight periods, 45-minutes per class, about perseverance and chasing a dream and overcoming stuff that you may have been through in life.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned having opened up for Mobb Deep, what are some of the elements of the ‘90s era hip-hop artists that you’ve been able to channel through your own music?
Chris Skillz: The main thing is substance, and just being able to express yourself and getting deep with your music. I grew up on ‘Pac, I lived that era of Big, Nas, Jay, you know what I mean, Gangstarr and their track “Moment of Truth.” Just that whole essence, that’s what I grew up on and that’s the type of music that’s embedded in me.
AllHipHop.com: What are the next few months looking like for you in terms of releases?
Chris Skillz: My newest mixtape should be dropping in a month, titled Just Another Morning, Part 2. And then shortly after that I’ll be releasing my debut independent album under State City Music, titled Yesterdays Tomorrow. And then I actually just dropped a new video called “On the Run.” My most recent project is titled Before Dawn, which deals with a lot of suicidal issues and a lot of stuff that I’ve been through.
Stay updated with Chris Skillz on Twitter.