If you follow hip-hop then you know that with every December comes several end-of-the-year lists: best album, best single, best MC, etc. These lists are always a hot topic for debate and makes December and January fun for fans eager to debate Chance vs. Yeezy or Tribe vs. De La Soul. But one of the things that the hip-hop community always looks forward to is  Richmond, Virginia’s DJ Mad Skillz providing his signature stamp on the year with the “Rap Up.”

Since 2002, DJ Mad Skillz has ended the year with a track that highlights all that was in hip-hop culture. It will more than likely go down as Skillz most “public” contribution to hip-hop. I say public because his ghost writing pen is legendary but it’s “ghost writing” so most of those hit songs you don’t know Skillz was even apart of. The “Rap Up” is public and it’s all his…or is it?

For the last two years East New York MC and now G-Unit label member Uncle Murda has released an end-of-the-year “Rap Up.” Murda brings his own style and flair to all of his tracks, highlighted by hilarious ad libs; a la the late Freaky Tah.

So the question is: Who Rap’d Up 2016 better, DJ Mad Skillz or Uncle Murda?

Let’s start by giving credit where credit is due, this is Skillz thing, Skillz concept, Skillz made it hot, Skillz keeps doing it. So if you’re of the belief that Uncle Murda shouldn’t even be doing a Rap Up at all, I understand the point and several people in hip-hop will agree with your opinion but it is what it is and because of his consistent and solid work over the last few years — several dope records and mixtapes — when Murda moves, people pay attention.

I heard Skillz version first. Being from Richmond, when Skillz drops in VA you can’t escape it. Skillz’s “Rap Up” touches on everything 2016, from the new chips in our credit cards to sports to terrorist:

Denver won the Super Bowl, Cam came up short
Leo got his Oscar and El Chapo got caught
They got mosquitoes with the Zika, so don’t get bit
Peyton and Kobe Bryant both called it quits
I gotta admit, Fam, I get mad as shit
When I swipe my card and they say “No, You gotta use your chip”
Damn Daniel, “Hamilton” was lit
Who let Kanye West get 53 million in debt?
And Rihanna went to work without taking a pause
ISIS popping and y’all worried about bathroom laws?!?

Skillz breaks down those we lost this year from Prince to Phife to Ali, takes a jab at KD to Golden State, and talks about Young Joc’s perm. He proves that he’s still on top of his game with the bars, wit and current affairs.

They kept shooting black men but wouldn’t shoot killer clowns
They kept telling us to use our voices
Knowing damn well they ain’t really give us no choices
Get an iPhone with no headphone cord
Or get a Galaxy and go and meet the Lord
See they go low, and we go high
You only got two friends. Why you trying to go Live?
I’ma miss the Obamas, I don’t wanna see them go
My prayers to everyone that we lost in Orlando
The Oscars were so white they had to get Chris Rock
And the album of the year had to be Anderson.Paak

Skillz “Rap Up” is everything the culture asks for and overall plays more like network news; the new CNN for the streets. While Skillz is network news, Uncle Murda is Worldstar – which is fitting because that’s where he debuts most of his tracks. Murda’s “Rap Up” takes shots at the year and Skillz. He admits early in the track that he jacked Skillz’s style and makes no apologizes for it.

Even Mad Skillz gotta like how I flip this
Fuck it if he don’t, yeah, I Deebo’d his shit
Heard you last year saying that slick shit
(I heard you)

Murda’s approach is current, it’s gossip, it’s “popular petty” and that’s not a dis, petty sells right now and he’s mastered the art. He talks Rihanna and Travis, Game and Meek, Sigel getting knocked out, Gucci and Drake. It’s clear that while Skillz talks about events, Murda talks about people and that’s makes his “Rap Up” popular because people love petty gossip. I’m not above it either. The track is hilarious and people listen for the ad libs as much as they listen for the lyrics. And the ad libs are classic.

Baby still ain’t pay Lil’ Wayne
Told the Breakfast Club put some respek on his name
(All three of y’all)
Young M.A. getting that money
“Ooouuu” hottest record in the country
Mary J. Blige don’t want no more drama
Going through a divorce, her husband tryna’ rob her
(He a bum)
Blac Chyna a Kardashian
She had a baby with Rob Kardashian
(She came up)
Took the baby then left that fat fuck
Now he on the Gram like “she left me and took her stuff”
(Good for you)
She ain’t love you or like you like that
She use you to get popping and pay Tyga back

Like Skillz, Murda does talk about a wide range of issues but he’s much more raw and aggressive; and much more gossip based. Why? Because gossip sells (see Media Take Out/Baller Alert). Murda’s track does have a  running hook and runs about eight minutes. He also announce that he signed with 50 Cent’s G-Unit. Which is a big move for him. He’s been putting in work for years and had to regained footing after the passing of his influential manager Chris Lighty. Murda can’t be slept on, “Camron Voice” was a 2016 street anthem and then he got Cam’ron on the remix. He been standing tall for NYC and NYC is making its way back to the top of hip-hop.

So here’s the final breakdown: DJ Mad Skillz is the architect and definitely still has the crown when it comes to the Rap Up.  He will always be Rap Up king. Murda’s approach: a combination of late mid 90’s hip-hop – go out and kill the king – mixed with 50 Cent’s approach – go out and kill the king – mixed with 2016 gossip and comedy, is a good mix and makes a great end-of-the-year song but this is hip-hop. One of the first rules of hip-hop is to be yourself. Murda is definitely himself on the track and it plays to his strength but he jacked another MCs formula – Skillz formula. There is hypocrisy in dissing Desiigner for sounding like Future on a track concept that he jacked from Skillz.

That’s my word. Post your comments and follow The Cheats Movement on Twitter @CheatsMovement and IG @TheCheatsMovement.  Email me at   

Disclosure: I’m not only from VA – I’m from Richmond, VA. Skillz’s hometown. Take that for what it is and I’ll see you next time. #WESEEIT


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