Quan – The 730 Interview
“Can we please have a moment of silence?” Quan asked on his debut “Just a Moment,” a collaboration with Nas that was featured on Street’s Disciple. We know Quan wasn’t talking about his music when he asked for that silence, but that’s exactly what happened, as it’s been nearly four years since Quan’s last project, The Struggle. However, back with a new mixtape, Quan is answering the questions of where he’s been and the battles he’s fighting.
Most notably, though, is that when Quan first asked for a moment of silence, he was asking the listener to pause and consider, remember, those who were struggling in the streets to those in jail to those no longer with us. That focus on the struggle hasn’t gone anywhere, as Quan shows on “All On Him,” a collaboration with Pusha T, that he’s still a soldier in the fight for justice and equality. While the Newport News native remembers his earlier days and what went wrong in the game, from Atlantic Records not knowing how to market him to growing disconnected to once-mentor Nas, he’s also got a bright outlook for the future, one that involves tons of new music, movie placements, and a memoir. After more than ten years in the game, don’t expect much silence from Quan.
It’s been a few years since we heard from you. What have you been up to?
Just trying to maintain consistency as an underground artist. The Struggle mixtape did well. That was in 2012. I did a few records and been getting movie placements. Things like that, man. But really, putting myself in the position to gear up and have the campaign, the momentum, and proper team put together too, you know, function independently. And that’s pretty much it. And now it’s a great time, a great lane. The stars have been aligning in my favor and I’m going to keep on smashing and mashing until I can’t no more. But you know me. I’m going to keep on doing music, whether I do one project here and there or one project every three years. I’m going to keep on doing music as long as God continues to give me the ability to do so.
Making quality music has never been an issue for you, but how hard is it to come back after taking a few years off from dropping projects?
Honestly, I don’t think it’s hard. I think it depends on your perspective, how you look at it. For me, I’ve been blessed to have a fanbase that’s genuine and when it comes to music, man, whether it’s 10,000 people or a million people, when I have people that appreciate it and they feel it and I know that the streets feel the energy, the compliments, the energy, the shows, the parties, I think that’s what matters. Consistency and great music can never be denied, bro. It can never be denied. I think what happens often with people is they become complacent and they start setting and they try to give the people that respect their craft the bullshit and it blows up in their face. I’m so music I don’t ever imagine me not being able to reach some people or some demographic. I just don’t.
Does your style change as trends in music change?
I understand music theory and I’m a true artist, so I can still be me and respect the different changes in music, if that makes sense. I know how to be Quan and still adapt to whatever’s going on around me and still be true because it’s just certain things I’m just not going to do. But when, say, trap music, for example, ain’t nothing different behind trap music except the drums. And the stutter step staccatos and all that, but I know that about me. So let’s say if I say, Okay, it’s 2016 and I want to do an R&B project, okay, I could still have organs and strings and violins and soulful basses.
If this is the current sound of drums and frequencies that are appealing not only to my ear but to the masses, then I’m going to rock with it. If I don’t like it, then I’m not going to rock with it because at the end of the day, a real artist knows that you can get something from everything and that’s me. So I won’t deal with, say today, I’m not going to do the mush-mouth rhyming. That’s just not me. But I’ll do the singsong melody. Why not? I helped create it. I made it cool. For me, I was ahead of my time. I made it cool. I made it cool to be able to talk street shit and sing. Wasn’t nobody doing that before me. I’m one of the pioneers of that. In realism and actuality, Brian, I love what everybody’s doing, but in realism and actuality, they’re my children.
Did you start the movement with singing and rapping for artists like Drake to be successful?
Definitely. When I came in the game, they didn’t know how to market that. They should have just let me be who I was because at the end of the day, up to that point, nobody was doing it, especially no east coast artist. Not on a mainstream scale. Not to discredit cats like Devin the Dude, Z Ro, but these people (current rappers) wasn’t equally singing and rapping. Nobody was doing that.
Only person that had did that was Lauryn Hill up to that point. I was the only man that did that, especially on an urban label. So now when I see it, whether it be a Young Thug or a Drake or a Nicki Minaj, actual and factual, I was one of the first ever to do it. Now, I might not have been the only person, but I’m one of the first to ever do it, and it was successful.
For whatever reasons, it didn’t go as far as many people thought it would up to this point. I mean, my story’s not over, but they can’t take that from me. And it’s cool. I’m not one of them people…I love it. I love the fact that music and artists have taken the direction that they have because it gives me more shit to talk about and more shit to talk because at the end of the day, I was a part of that.
And when it’s all said and done, nobody can do Quan like Quan do Quan. My life, my testimony, my trials and tribulations, my tribums and joys, my soul and my spirit that God put in me, that I give to the people, only I can do that. And you stay in tune with that and you bring that through the music, that’s timeless music and they can’t take that away. I ain’t gotta rap another bar. I can just sing. Or I can just rap. But whatever it is that’s in me, it’s gotta come out and those that are intended to hear it, they’re going to fuck with it.
When you talk about the marketing and not knowing what to do with you, are you talking Nas or Atlantic Records or both?
All of the above, for real. How the hell, they ain’t know how the hell you can market a street nigga that can sing with the best of them and rap with the best of them. They didn’t know how.
Why do you think that was? What was holding them back?
We live in a still typical society, a society that will tell you that a killer doesn’t love nobody or if play basketball, you can’t play football. You know, you can’t be a good person and cuss. This shit is crazy. I remember coming up, that’s sort of what’s perceived. You couldn’t be a true hardcore artist and turn around and sing a love song. They didn’t know how to do that shit, but the thing was, a lot of my music that I sing on his struggle music. It’s all about, at the end of the day, man, I can do any genre of music, man, as long as it’s being true to myself, but I guess when you’re dealing with a campaign and major corporations and things like that, man, they have a certain blueprint or protocol that they want to abide by and they abide by the theory that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But now, hey, look what’s happened. And it’s okay. I still got people that still love my music, that check for my music, that buy my music, that came to my shows and things like that. I’m happy. I still sign autographs and shit. I appreciate that, bro. It doesn’t matter.
Do you think if you were a new artist today, you would have a different path?
(pause) Yeah. Hell yeah. Yeah. But it’s so weird, man, because I’ve been blessed, so I don’t really, like I don’t view me as not being in the game. I just look at it like I do music. Like, this is what I do. And I’ve been blessed with enough hustle that regardless of what music is doing, I’m a-okay. You feel me? I’m blessed. And to know that there are still people every day, I go state to state and they’re hitting my inbox and they hit my site and if they ain’t doing that, I’m going different places to be recognized. I love it. And that’s what it be for me. Any time I release a project, I do something big, a good feature…It’s a blessing.
Over the past ten years, I’ve released, like, eight projects, eight mixtapes, and a bunch of street records and things like that and I’ve had some grade-a features. Asher Roth, me and Pusha got a joint bubbling right now, a nice record with Ace Hood, and quite a few other people. Saigon, shit, quite a few people. And I just landed a lead record in this movie called The Hurt Business with the lead track “A Warrior’s Song.” I ain’t mad. I’m about to shoot a video for that.
I ain’t mad. Who knows? My story ain’t over because it only takes one record at the end of the day. I put up a full-fledged radio campaign and get my spins up, I know that it takes a check, that’s it. As long as you’re marketable, all of that matters, but at the end of the day, we’ve seen a bunch of unmarketable niggas get paid and a bunch of garbage songs dominate the airwaves. But you know, man, when I put out a project and that shit tears through the streets, I don’t have to get no internet, nothing, but to know that people feel that shit and they hit you like, I’ve just seen these videos.
My last mixtape garnered over a million views and hella downloads and great premieres and features and feedback and nice numbers on videos and this is what I try to tell people and they don’t understand, is that if I move 10-20,000 units in a year at $10 a pop, that’s still $100-200,000. I know chicks that got kids that ain’t making more than $30,000 one year, bro. Why would I complain when on a bad day, on a bad year, I can do 50, 60-70,000 with my eyes closed, bro, legit?
That’s not a bad deal.
Hell nah it’s not a bad deal, especially coming from somebody that did all of the shit that I did and been through all of the shit that I been through.
Do you feel blessed to be where you’re at?
Oh, man, super-blessed. Super-blessed. And, you know, I was going through worse shit. But you’ve been knowing me for a while, Brian, so you already know some of the whispers and things that I’ve been through, so to still be here, man…
It’s been a long time since you debuted on “Just a Moment” off Nas Street’s Disciple. Do you find that you’re getting new fans that aren’t familiar with “Just a Moment”?
Yeah. I get both of that. I get both of them. And a lot of times it be, I guess because I can still rap with the best of them, so it’s like…and these niggas can’t rap, Brian. They can’t rap these days. So I guess then you get somebody that’s still got some songs and is still relevant and still got something to say and is still giving you good bars, it’s a good thing because if they don’t know, they’re going to be like, Who the fuck is he? And somebody around them is going to be like, Oh, that’s Quan, one of the first niggas that started this singing and rapping shit. Go and do your research. And when they go and do their research and they see ‘04, ‘05, they’ll see I’ve been mashing on them ever since then. It’s a win-win for me.
Hell, look what happened with 2 Chainz. My story ain’t over. A lot of them niggas is way older than me.
No one would have given Tity Boi a chance.
Period. They didn’t care. He took his money and marketed and promoted himself and put it around a campaign and now he’s a household name. It doesn’t even matter no more. He knows he’s going to go gold. He knows that he’s aligned himself with some good features and campaigns, he wins.
What do you have to do to become a household name?
I gotta spend a little more money. I got the music. (laughs) I got the music. I just have to spend a little more money and align myself with a few more people, man.
A lot of people say it’s not about the money, it’s about the music.
Bullshit. I’m gonna tell you why. Because if a tree falls in the woods and you wasn’t there to hear it or see it fall, did it fall?
So a lot of good music goes unheard.
Period. Listen, if I got a record with Jay-Z right now, if nobody hears the record, where is that record going to go? How is that record going to grow legs? Great music ain’t enough. It’s not enough. It’s not going to get you BDS.
Nobody gave a fuck that “Just a Moment” didn’t have a budget behind it. It was a great record standing on its own and I’m not saying if it hadn’t of gotten leaked then it would have been okay, but knowing how the music business is, you need a certain amount of BDS and spins and the relationship with the right persons to get your music played on those particular stations, whether it be radio, TV, or satellite.
That shit takes a budget and people with relationships to help those records grow. These people are not going to dedicate their time to it when their time is dedicated to them earning a living. So you want that person to sit there and work that record? You have to accommodate them. You want to get on ration and get on tours, you have to pay to play or get somebody who believes in you to crack the bag. Get somebody to crack the bag. That’s how it works.
Very. Very. Very. All of that matters and I think as long as you got good music and you stay mashing and you stay grinding, you can get you some recognition. Year after year, if you got spins and you’re still mashing, the 5,000 spins turns into 10 and that 10 turns into 20 and that 20 turns into 50. You’ll get seen and heard, especially when you’ve been on your shit. And me having good music is never the question. It’s just that there are hundreds of thousands of people who want to know where Quan is and what’s going on with my music and unless my platform is big enough to make me visible and give me a presence with my fan base, then they won’t know.
But I don’t play this game for the industry no more. I been stopped that shit. I do this shit because I know I have true fans out there and they want to hear what the fuck Quan got to say. It means a lot to them, so that’s why I do it. And now my only thing is, y’all fuck with me and believe in me, break some bread for a nigga who’s giving you his life and putting his blood, sweat, and tears through that microphone. Same way you do the preacher when you go and hear a sermon. Come see a nigga. Do something. Even if you download everything for free, when I come through your town, come see me, man. Break some kind of bread, and people will if they fuck with your music. See, at the end of the day, they will. People dom’t go to iTunes because they can’t get it for free. They go because they fuck with that artist and they want that artist to win.
Do you have the songs ready to go that can put you back on the map?
I got records. Me and Pusha got a hit record out now. But here’s the difference. What the person on the outside would classify as a hit would be in sales and money earned, but we all know that you can have classic hit records that don’t do nothing. There’s songs on tons of artists’ albums that I’m pissed that they didn’t put out as a single and really push, push, push that was a hit record. It’s all about the campaign and the person who’s determining what it is that they’re seeing and hearing.
How did the collab, “All On Him,” with Pusha T come about?
Well, Push is a friend of mine. We’re from the same state. We’re both from the Peninsula. He’s from Norfolk, Virginia Beach area and I’m from the Newport News, Hampton area. So that collab has something to do with personal as well as the respect for each other’s craft. But, you know, different records, Ace Hood and different things like that, a lot of those might come out of relationships or it might come out of cutting a check. There’s different things. Or people hear records and different things like that.
Where do you want “All On Him” to go?
It’s a classic record. It’s a timeless record. It’s been out. I’ve been pushing it. It’s been getting phenomenal responses. The visual is going to come out and I’m actually releasing the mixtape. First it was going to be an all-original EP. But the response for it has been phenomenal and it ain’t like I had a million dollar budget for it so it’s just everywhere, but I do believe that my true fans and my true people have obtained that record and I think with the visual that’s coming, we’re retelling the Tamir Rice story and really addressing a lot of the things that are going on, the senseless violence and things of that nature, the police killings, and things like that. I think it’ll be a real good look.
And at the end of the day, man, it’s all about making sure that people feel your presence and they see you and feel you and they associate great music with you, and that is key. It don’t matter how old you are because your fans will be loyal to you if you’re loyal to them. That is just what I feel. I’m gonna tell you something else.
One time me and Nas was talking and he was telling me the reason why Jay-Z keeps going and Jay-Z told him why he should keep going and why those of us who are impeccable MCs should keep going. It’s only one genre of music where they make you feel like you’re too old to do this music and that’s the rap game, man. It’s hip-hop. That’s the only motherfucking…R&B artists, rock and roll artists, jazz, anybody else, they let these people rock out and it’s cool to honor a legend and things of that nature, but, you know, only up until recently, they wasn’t respecting that. It wasn’t until cats like Jay-Z kept pushing, and he had to keep pushing past the, Oh, nigga, you over 30. This is a young person’s game. You’re over 40… until lyrics became relevant again.
Nas told me don’t ever quit. One of my favorite lines is “When I rhyme, something special happens every time/I’m the greatest, something like Ali in his prime.” Man, I know I put these words together, man. I know if it ain’t nothing in this world that I can do, I know I can do this music, man. Rapping, singing, all of it, and that’s mine. God gave me that. Can’t nobody take that from me, man. So that’s how I approach it.
Your faith has always been important to you and you’ve always been vocal about it. How important is it to you to share it with others?
Because I wouldn’t be here and the moment that I act like I’m here because I got all the sense and all this shit figured out, I’m gone. I don’t worship like a lot of other typical Christians. I cuss and don’t feel no type of fucking way about it. I feel like there’s a time and a place for different things, but me using profanity and everyday slang and basic talking, it’s far different from me cursing somebody.
I can sit here all day and talk, “Aw, man, that shit was crazy” but as far as me saying, “You ain’t shit. You a fucked up individual,” that’s cursing somebody, man. The Bible says it’s not what goes in a man’s body that defines him but what comes out. You can’t take them things back. If anything, I’m a street preacher. If anything. And it’s about life and treating people like you want to be treated and I’ve been through way too much to even act greater than me.
Do you ever get criticized for that?
Most people embrace it, but I don’t care. I don’t give two fucks about somebody’s opinion, man, when it comes to things like that. If you like my music, you like my music. If you don’t, you don’t. I put out March Madness and somebody that was religious hit me like, This is not the work of God. This is the work of the devil. I know you said you love God. Repent. I just shut that shit down. What you believe and how you decided to carry it is on you. Don’t be hitting my goddamn phone and telling another grown-ass man about how you should conduct and carry yourself because then I’m going to tell you some way raw shit about where the fuck you should go. It’s going to go left. You feel me?
I’m a realist and I ain’t sitting here trying to babysit no other adults. Hey, whatever God put on my heart to give it to you, if you don’t get it, you don’t. Sometimes I be talking to my own self about what God wants me to do. To each his own, man, I just know that I ain’t out here starting nothing with nobody, taking nothing from nobody. I ain’t out here being a foul individual, man, so I ain’t tripping off that other shit.
You mentioned police brutality earlier, which is especially relevant giving the summer we’ve had. Do more artists need to speak out?
To each his own because a lot of people might not like a lot of the shit that I got to say about what be going on in the world and how things is dealt with. I made light of it, but on some honest shit, there’s certain things that me, as a street nigga, gonna know that probably the average person that finds themselves in that situation ain’t gonna know.
In other words, Sandra Bland didn’t know that she could be in the middle of a country town and they could do her filthy like that. She didn’t know that. But me, see, I know that. I know that they’ll hang you and make it look like you committed suicide. They’ve been doing forever. They’ve been beating us forever. So when those people first pull behind my car, they don’t even have no lights on, I’m already expecting to get pulled over, so if I did have a bag of weed or anything on me, that’s my time to get it off me, ASAP.
Not moving, not talking shit to these people, or moving around the car when the lights come on and they’re hopping out the car. Hell nah. ‘Cause you already know they’re looking for the opportunity to gun your ass down. But the average person ain’t thinking about that. And what the internet shows you, it’s just different situations. Just different situations.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions. I’m not saying that senseless violence hasn’t been done. I’m not saying that race doesn’t play a factor. But listen, pull up behind my car with your gun out asking me not to move, I don’t give a fuck what you talking about. “What you say you were looking for, Officer? License? It’s in the glove box. I got a pistol on my hip. I’m not moving. You can get it off. It’s registered. I’m not moving.” I’m not playing with them people, man.
If you go out of your way to fuck with me, you got a badge number and a last name. If it’s that serious, I’ll see you when you get off of work, brother, when the ball is in my favor. I’m not running around with a knife and trying to fight y’all or doing any stupid, idiotic shit, when there’s seven to ten of y’all and half of y’all probably don’t like motherfuckers no way and the other half wants to go home and the rest of y’all are probably scared to death. When I’m in the hood, I’m clutching and gripping on my pistol and I’m from there. And I’m watching everything motherfucking moving, so I can only imagine what the fuck a person who probably don’t deal with that shit on a regular basis, who ain’t from the hood, is dealing with.
And let’s say they don’t fuck with Black people like that. Oh, man, that is a cocktail made for destruction, bro. So you know what I do? I educate my son to all of this shit so he knows how to behave and carry himself and be humble. Now, goddamnit, you do that and they come for you, we’re going to war. But other than that, that’s how you move. That’s how you stay alive. I be telling motherfuckers that you ain’t got to be a criminal to think and move like one because they’re gunning down law abiding citizens, goddamnit, so apparently that’s what the hell it takes.
What about someone like Philando Castile, who appeared to do everything right?
But he didn’t though. He did, but he didn’t. He did in the eyes of society, and guess what it got him? Smoked. But see, in my eyes, gun registered or no, I’m not moving. “Sir, I got a loaded firearm on my left hand side.” My hands are in the air the whole time. “Yes, I got a gun on me.” Period.
So don’t move at all.
Man, I’m not fucking with them people. I’m not. You know why? Because you might be looking for a reason to bust me in my ass. Like, I don’t know what the fuck people be thinking. Motherfuckers be on drugs, they be scared to death, they got grudges, they wake up with bad mornings and shit too. Man, I’m chilling. Let me get through this shit. That’s how I be. Don’t fucking touch me. Won’t touch you. Let me get through this shit so I can get home. Period. Now, if I feel like they fucking with me, I will pop all the shit in the world.
But guess what? People say don’t move, I ain’t motherfucking moving. When people say your ass is under arrest, my ass is under arrest, but you gotta catch me. Shit like that. I’m not fucking with them people, man. Them people will shoot you and not do a day for it. In front of everybody. Now I was always taught a wise man knows when to hold them and when to fold them. That better be a time when your ass knows to fold and if it’s that serious, then you can address that situation another time when the odds are in your favor.
I just be looking at different factors, B. For example, the homie that was in front of the store. Alton Stirling. Okay. Check this shit out. In my mind, they said a homeless dude pulled up on him and asked him for money, kept harassing him, and he showed them his pistol and the dude gets mad and calls the police and says there’s a dude out here selling CDs, bootleg, with a gun. All right. Now, let’s say if he’s a criminal and the gun is dirty, first of all, you ain’t got no business pulling out no pistol on nobody that you’re going to shoot, and if you’re a felon, you ain’t’ got no business letting anybody know that you got a joint in the first place.
So if that happens, your ass knows it’s time to go. I just had words and I got a gun. It’s time to go. Because the police is coming. That’s part one. You’re not a criminal and you’re trying to make a living the best way you can, but you’re selling bootlegs. Okay. You got a pistol in your pocket. Even if you’re not a criminal, they’re going to fuck with you because somebody gave you a report and they already know you got a gun on you, whether it’s legal or not, bro, they’re not playing with you. You understand me? I’m not playing with no nigga with a pistol in his pocket. We’re not playing. If we get to tussling and I got a gun on me, I’m liable to shoot you first. Do you understand my logic as opposed to, Hey, man, the dude was harassing me and I showed him I had a pistol and my pistol is in my right hand pocket. That ain’t what happened.
So what it looks like to me, they talked to him, he was bucking, and they felt like they were going to rush him and the pussy-ass cop pulls out his gun in the heat of the moment, whatever his thought was, in the heat of the moment, and the man had a gun in his pocket, whether he was reaching for it or not. I’m just trying to tell motherfuckers what their mentality is. I’m not saying that they’re right. I’m not saying that they’re right, but I be out here in these streets and I know what the fuck is going on. Motherfuckers want to talk that shit like motherfuckers ain’t out here seeing little motherfuckers running around with choppers and nines with 30 shots, 40s with 22-shot clips, and they’re gunning everything the fuck down.
They’re super-scared, bro, but the same motherfuckers that want to hold their hands in the air and talk this pro-Black shit acting like that shit ain’t the reason that they don’t go to the club no more or that they don’t want to go to their mama’s house in the hood no more because motherfuckers is on pills, lean, sniffing powder, and don’t give no fucks about nothing and the people that are getting called every day to come and deal with these motherfuckers, so yeah, he’s scared, motherfucker. He’s from the goddamned suburbs and yeah, he’s’ going to shoot your ass if you’re bucking ‘cause he’s already scared and intimidated of Black people. He already don’t understand Black people and he really don’t want to understand Black people, so yeah, you better be really intelligent when dealing with a motherfucker on his terms when the power is not in your hands.
Now if he’s really that grimy and dirty and you really feel that you need to go to war and put your life on the line, at least do it in the fashion where it’s just you and his life in there and it’s in your favor because with them pulling up with five of them and they go to the gun range two, three times a week, you’re going. You gotta move a little different and this is from a real street nigga, a real nigga that’s really been fuckign around in these streets, a nigga who, on record, has fucked police up, been fucked up by police, and has went to war with police and the whole goddamned nine. So I mean that shit, motherfuckers better wise up. This shit is just different. Me and my man was just talking, man, shit is different. You know, crackheads are looking better than the niggas that they’re supposed to be buying the drugs from. Why? Because these niggas on Xanie’s, Percs, lean, every goddamn day. But they think it’s cool because they heard Future and them talk about it.
Do you think the music has led the change in drug culture in America?
No. I think the music reflects what is going on and the way it’s perceived and marketed. I’m not going to bullshit. I’ll pop a Perc here and there, but I smoke weed and drink liquor. However, that’s not my everyday existence. That ain’t my every day. That’s not my every day. I’m not going to allow that to become what I need to function. But for a person that probably ain’t have that upbringing or ain’t have the best examples of different things like that, they ain’t got that.
When I was coming up, that wasn’t the shit. The fly nigga was the nigga that was in shape. He was in shape. Yeah, he smoked weed and he drunk, but he was in shape. He was a fly nigga. His skin was clear and his hair game was mean. His dress game was mean. His jewelry game was tight. He kept his car right. Those were the kings. Now these days, man, these niggas’ eyes yellow, pink, red, skin all dark, fucked up, body out of shape, fucked up, talk game crazy ‘cause your jaw’s locking on Molly. That’s just different things, man. It’s crazy. There’s no order.
You talk about how interactions with police has changed. Is a lot of that related to fear?
Hell yeah. Racism and misunderstanding. All of it. It’s not just one thing. It’s a combination of shit. But they need to implement some different practices and some better laws to govern the police and motherfuckers need to learn to be more humble and move more sharp when dealing with the fucking police. That’s what needs to happen. And remove all of these self-seeking attention, publicity-seeking fuck-ass people out the way. Tell them, “Shut the fuck up and bring the real.” And that’s what I’m here to represent. The real. That’s timeless. And that’s going to stand on its own. You can’t say anything about that. That’s like saying the Bible’s old.
Do you think it’s gotten worse between the people and police in Hampton and Newport News?
Kind of unapproachable so a lot of shit, I don’t catch, for real, anyway. One, I only deal with a certain amount of people on a regular basis. And when I’m out and about, I conduct myself in the best manner that I possibly can. But I also look like a person that you’re just going to come and fuck with or say something crazy to or be disrespectful to anyway, and when the police are around, I’m going in the opposite motherfucking direction. So my day-to-day doesn’t revolve around a lot of bullshit. But yeah, I’m almost certain, I’m almost certain it’s fucking with people. Trump’s about to go in office. Yeah. It’s going to be crazy.
You think so?
Yeah. It always is though. I haven’t been watching the election as of late, but they’re calling him the presidential candidate and yeah, I think some of the things he’s going to implement are going to be pretty good. But I mean, shit, to know anything about presidents is to know that he doesn’t run shit. He’s a puppet, but he’s got a lot of powerful friends with influences.
A few years ago, you mentioned that Nas hadn’t reached out when your son tragically passed away. Have you talked since?
Nope. Nah. And I don’t really expect us to. One, I’m not one for the circus. I’m not about to follow no nigga around, state-to-state, and if I’m somewhere and you happen to be performing there, I’ll go. You know. I might go and speak and, you know, what’s happening? It ain’t no “I hate him, he hate me” shit. He lives his life, I live mine. We made some great songs and had a great run and so be it. But he is a part of my life. He is a part of my career, a major part of my career, anyway, far more than I am of his. So those questions are going to come up. He’s a part of my story. That’s how it is. But Nas is a funny dude, so you never know. I don’t know. I just live and do me.
Last year, Nas and N.O.R.E. squashed their beef unexpectedly. Do you think that could happen with you guys?
I know him. And whether people believe it or not, they know him. It’s only so long you’re going to look at a duck and be like, Oh, it has feathers like a duck, it quacks like a duck, it talks like a duck, it’s got feet like a duck. Maybe this ain’t a duck though. You understand what I’m saying? He has a history of not being what he’s supposed to be. He’s a great artist. He’s just not a good executive when it comes to dealing with people, that knack that Jay-Z has or that knack that 50 has. And the only reason Nas catch flack for it is because he puts himself out there to do that.
But like I said, great run. I’m just here to put my music out and if the masses, you know, if I catch a wave and people fall in love with it, great. At this point, I know thousands and thousands of people love it and I know many more would if they could get to it. And I’m happy with that.
Losing a child has to be the hardest, most tragic event you had to overcome in life. How did that experience change you as a person?
Ooh. It made me colder. I could tell you that. I had an attitude with God for a while ‘cause I couldn’t understand how you could take something from me that I wanted so badly. And then, you know, I dealt with a lot of, Hey, I’ve done some terrible things to terrible people though and maybe that was God’s way of getting back at me. There was a lot of different things, man, that went through me, but one thing’s for sure, two things for certain, God has brought me through too much for me to sit there and really question, but I was pissed off and I went through some changes, but I’ve been going through it all my life, man. That’s the thing. Take a licking and keep on ticking.
I’m talking about seeing niggas try and kill my father on multiple occasions, niggas trying to kill me on multiple occasions, a lot of friends, you know. The past two months I’ve dealt with death, got hit in the head and was a good nigga, worked with Stop the Violence and helped kids. Stupidest shit in the world. They still ain’t caught the killer. I mean, and that’s another thing. That’s the element that I have in my music. The pain, the spirit that comes from that struggle, from the struggle, that motherfuckers can relate to all around the world in every ghetto in the world. The ability to articulate it in a special way.
No doubt. And you have a book you’ve been working on. What was that process like for you?
Yeah. I wrote a book. I’m going to face everything. I’ve been through too much. There’s nothing in this world that I can’t face. Nothing. And the scariest of them all is death and I faced that like it’s nothing. I had no choice but to on numerous occasions. But what it did was it was a hell of a relief. I had to change certain names of places and people to protect the guilty, but it was what it was – a beautiful time.
And you’re in the editing phases now?
Yeah. I actually haven’t been fucking with it, but that’s what it is.
As a musician, what is your writing process like?
Ah, man, any type of way. It could start with rain, with it raining outside, and the rain hitting the window in a certain way. It could start with me hearing a movie with a record in the background that I’ve heard before. It could start with just thoughts coming in my head. Any type of way possible. It could start with me just sitting down at the piano and just messing around. It could start with me picking up the guitar and messing around. Picking up my bass and just messing around. Messing with the drums. It doesn’t matter. It could be something that my mom says, something that a female says. It doesn’t matter. I could fuck around and smoke weed and drink liquor and get depressed. It doesn’t matter, bro. It doesn’t matter.
Is there a place where you write your best? Or a time of day?
It doesn’t even matter. Whatever, however it hits me when it hits me. I might roll over and grab my phone or grab a pen and a pad and write something and put it out. I might go in a trance and lose my mind and not move until the shit is done.
When do you know when a song that you write is finished?
Usually I get goosebumps. I mean, there’s just certain things that I have to do. I have to make sure that the chorus is hitting right.I gotta make sure that the words is written right before that. And I don’t know, there’s just something in me that lets me know and usually I’m right. And I’ll step away from it and you know, it’ll still be right. Sometimes it’ll be like a kid in the candy store. I’ll do a few hooks and out of them, one or two of them might be sticking with me and I’ll leave them there and come back and then I’m like, Ohhhh, I love it.
And then there’s times when I might finish something and I’m like, I like it or I’ll do it over. I might not even like it. But the funny shit is that my worst shit be a lot of these niggas’ best shit. So just where I hold myself as an artist and me critiquing myself, I wouldn’t even let myself finish a wack, bullshit song. That’s like saying you expect Jadakiss to ever spit a wack verse. You don’t expect that because those boys can rap. So you might have verses that you respect more than others, but at the end of the day, they’re going to give you what you came to admire them for, some good slick talk.
What artists have you been feeling recently?
Shit, anybody from Kodak Black to Bryson Tiller. Pusha T. Whoever sings “Take Me to Church.” Slim Thug, Do or Die, Twista…I just, oldies but goodies. Bootsy Collins. Young Thug.
Do you think D.R.A.M. can put it down for VA?
I mean, he’s good at what he do.
What’s been going on with Kingz Nation today?
Even if it ain’t no music, man, Kingz Nation is going to be there. A lot of my homies home. And we’re just staying active.