Skillz Million Dollar Backpack

Skillz Million Dollar Backpack
Virginia MC Skillz has been around so long he’s had time to cultivate at least two distinct audiences. Fans of mid-’90s hip-hop will remember the MC, then known as Mad Skillz, for his freestyling acumen and his "Nod Factor” single, among other things, but he’s been recognized recently for his hilarious year-end wrap-up songs. Skillz’s Million Dollar Backpack is a self-consciously aware attempt to reconcile his appeal and he largely delivers on the mission. Skillz has matured into a well-rounded MC with abundant wit, conceptual flair and versatility, and on tracks like "My Phone” and "Preachin’ to the Choir,” he exhibits a penchant for twist endings for his vividly constructed fables. But Skillz is at his best when paired up with other formidable MCs. While Common and Black Thought of the Roots sport considerably higher profiles, Skillz is more than able to hold his own with the lyrical heavyweights on "So Far So Good” and the rewind-worthy "Hold Tight,” respectively. While he never dumbs down his lyrics for the audience, it’s notable that Skillz’s production is more polished and probably geared to those who have only just caught wind of his presence. This occasionally lets him down on this otherwise smart, insightful offering from the accomplished veteran. (Koch)