Skillz (formerly Mad Skillz, born Shaquan Lewis in Detroit, Michigan) is an African-American rapper, known as a freestyle rapper. Skillz was born in Detroit, but, at a young age, made Richmond, Virginia his home. 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 Kalonji, 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.
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 afore mentioned 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 ?uestlove 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.