[Editor’s Note: With the new year around the corner, XXLmag.com looks back at some of our greatest stories and video features of 2008.]

Skillz is unapologetic to say the least. Rather than hide it, the Virginia lyricist has embraced his Jansport as evidenced on his forthcoming album, The Million Dollar Backpack due in stores July 22. But Skillz may be the last of a dying breed as the new crop of underground MCs aren’t tagged backpackers, but hipsters.

“I don’t know what hipsters are,” Skillz told XXLMag.com. “I think hipster is a word that somebody who didn’t know what to call the kids who wear their pants a little tighter, a little retro...They didn’t know what to call them, so they called them hipsters.”

“Maybe I’m a little too old to be a hipster,” he continued. “Maybe hipsters are the kids who are 20 and 21. It’s all music, man. I’ve always said from day one, I don’t believe in separating. Either it’s good or it’s bad. Don’t get me wrong, I got a Members Only jacket. You know my sneaker collection is crazy. You know I’m retro on the kicks. Maybe if I messed around and wore some 28 slims I’d be a hipster too.”

Aside from pushing his project, Skillz is still pushing the pen for others. Having crafted songs for everybody from Diddy to Jermaine Dupri, he’s now venturing into R&B.

“I just wrote a record two days ago,” Skillz shared. “I was talking to Chris Brown, I’m trying to get it to Chris Brown. I’m moving into the R&B side as we speak now. I’m definitely not The Dream or Sean Garrett, but I’m definitely trying to get there. The thing about writers who write R&B, they always tell me and other rappers that we are the best R&B songwriters because we have a better play for words.”

“R&B singers don’t care,” he added before switching gears. “Nobody cares if Mary J Blige didn’t write my life. Her audience doesn’t trip over that, because Mary delivered that song. That’s all it’s about, delivering the record.” --Carl Chery