Last month, Dallas rapper Spencer Mahurt, better known as Uncle Skitz, died of unknown causes. Before he died, he was hard at work on his debut album, 1PLAYAWAY, which will be released posthumously Friday. Over the course of the past year, he had been recording Southern-inspired trap music infused with pop balladry, each track an anecdote about his personal life.
His most recent single, “Treadmill,” sees him cutting off association from an ex. It comes from a place of bitterness, with lyrics like “Asking me to cater, but that’s a fable, bitch. Don’t wanna see you later, and I’m OK with it.” Producer Matthew Winn says the entirety of 1PLAYAWAY demonstrates Skitz’s growth.
Winn and Skitz met last summer, when Skitz began cutting tracks in Winn’s studio, Jupiter Island. The two hit it off and developed a close friendship. Winn signed Skitz to his independent record label Iras and helped him produce his debut album.
“Over that period of time, a lot had happened in his life,” Winn says, “and he was going through this transformation. I was kind of his mentor.”
Throughout the course of the past year, Skitz and Winn recorded several tracks. When Skitz narrowed down the cuts he wanted on 1PLAYAWAY, Winn said it quickly turned into a post-break up album.
1PLAYAWAY opens with a clip of voicemail from the mother of Skitz’s son. It sets a starting point for the album, which will showcase Skitz’s growth over the course of the succeeding tracks.
“Essentially, Skitz is going through the motions of realizing, yeah, he's been fucking up and he hasn't been doing what he’s supposed to do, but at the same time, he now is maturing, and he wants a second chance,” Winn says.
While “Treadmill” comes from a lack of maturity, another cut, “Long Distance” shows a more sensitive side of him, as he owns up to his wrongdoings and expresses a desire to redeem himself.
As of now, none of Skitz’s friends or family are sure of how he died, but Winn remembers feeling his positive energy up until that day.
“I was with him the night before he passed,” Winn says. “I had come to show him some of the clips from a music video that we had shot a few weeks before. We were trading notes about that and planning his listening party. Everything was good. We were laughing, telling jokes. The next morning, he was found unresponsive in his room.”
Winn remembers Skitz’s openness about his battles with substance abuse and addiction, and how he effectively communicated his emotions. He was one of the biggest supporters of Skitz’s ambitions to create a music empire and support his family for generations.
Proceeds from the album will go toward a 529 college savings plan for Skitz’s 3-year-old son Noah.
“He really wanted for music to be the way he provided for his family,” Winn said. “He had this positive outlook on how he wanted to approach the future, not just with this album, but with his music going forward.”
Another producer on 1PLAYAWAY, Demitrias Berry, remembers Skitz as a kind, fun-loving person. The two originally connected via Twitter five years ago. Berry had sent Skitz an instrumental track to sing and rap over, but Skitz did not use the track. The two remained connected on Twitter but would not collaborate again until 2019.
Berry produced the song “Lately,” which will appear on 1PLAYAWAY.
“I had made that beat on my lunch break at work and had sent it to him in a pack of beats via email,” Berry says. “He had shown me the rough version of the song in the studio and I was blown away at his ability to make something so complex artistically and personal in regards to his pen as an artist. It inspired me to embrace what I’ve been through and made me want to express it more in my songs.”
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In addition to seeking Berry out to produce tracks, Skitz helped Berry embrace his talent as a rapper. Berry felt honored that a fellow artist embraced his duality.
“I miss his words, his friendship, his happiness,” Berry says. “Skitz was so happy when he would let the world hear his unreleased music. I miss seeing him be a father. I also genuinely miss him and respect him for believing in me as more than just a producer. I’ve been working more as an artist than anything this year, and he was one of the few who wanted to use both of my talents, which most people don’t really do once they know me for producing songs.”
Producer Taylor Sader produced two tracks for Skitz, “Abracadab” and “Dockers,” both of which will appear on 1PLAYAWAY. While neither Sader nor Berry have heard the project in full yet, they both saw Skitz’s commitment to growth and remember him for being kind and humorous.
“After knowing Skitz for a while, I saw how he changed and matured a lot,” Sader says, “and I'm very excited to see how that translates on to the album. ... He was really the type of person to go out of his way to help anybody, no matter what they needed. That's what I miss most about him.”