Connecticut and raised in Newport “Bad”
News, Virginia, the 26-year-old has endured through
an eleven-year saga of court cases, prison bids, and
Using both God and Rap music
as guiding lights, the multi-talent is ready to turn
years of strife into a positive MC life. Currently involved
in a label bidding war, the Ill Will advocate hopes
to release his debut, Until My Death , by the fall,
with production from the likes of L.E.S., Red Spyda,
and Buckwild solidified.
An open book possessing unique
candidness, Quan recently engaged in some truly real
talk with Beatz. Detailing the struggles that
have brought him into 2005, revealing the true story
of “Just A Moment,” and offering sharp insight
on Rap’s current clientele, Quan pulls no punches.
Consider this your formal introduction to the man Nas
has already christened as “Rap’s future.”
Beatz: Let's start from
the beginning. Before you went to jail, were you heavy
into rapping and making music?
Quan: Yeah, I was rhyming
before jail, like on the block. I'd write verses, and
I was considered as one of the illest n***as in my hood.
People talk about Rap music, but the music wasn't putting
any money into my pockets like the crack was. I wanted
it, but I didn't know how to get it. There wasn't anybody
from my hood in the hip-hop industry, at that time at
least. Jay-Z used to come around my way in Virginia
a lot back then, and he didn’t even get his deal
until after I got locked up.
Beatz: Really? So you
were cool with Jay-Z back then?
Quan: Let me break it
down for you. When I moved to Bad News, Virginia, I
met a friend of mine who became my best friend. Jay
used to come to Virginia and f**k with him and my n***as,
‘cause they were dudes from New York. That's how
I met him. His name was ringing bells, but he hadn't
popped yet. People were in the hood doing what they
were doing, and I end up getting locked up. People were
trying to tell me to chill, but I was on that young
s**t, not trying to hear anybody. I was trying to get
that money. That sent me to prison, and this is right
after Jay released “In My Lifetime.” I get
locked up, and a couple of months later, he and Foxy
Brown drop “Ain't No N***a.” At that age
back then, I knew I could have ran with anybody, including
Jay. My n***as in the hood were mad at me for that,
for messing up and not taking advantage of my connection
to Jay. To see him succeed, it let me know that this
Rap thing is for real.
Beatz: When exactly
did you first go to jail?
Quan: The first time
that I went in was in 1994, and that was for six months.
I stayed out for like two years, but I came back to
like nine cases. There was a whole lot of crazy s**t
going on in my hood at that time. I came home and tried
to chill, but I got caught back up in the same s**t.
I needed and wanted money. N***as was trying to kill
me. It was on and popping, so next thing you know, I
was busting guns, hustling, and robbing n***as. I come
back with nine cases, and they really wanted me. For
real, I was supposed to beat those cases, but they wanted
me that bad and I was that hot that they were determined
not to let me go. So, n***as turned snitch to be let
go, and they bagged me and my man. I was facing life
and 36 years, but I came from up under that They gave
me 23 years, suspended 15, and I ended up doing seven
years and some change. I fell in April of 1996, and
I came home in May of 2003.
Beatz: While you were
locked up, you got heavier into the songwriting, correct?
Quan: Yeah, I definitely
got heavier into the music. My options were either rhyme
or crime. That's all it was. Either I'm going to get
these means flipping this coke, or I'm going to get
these means flipping these words. It was that simple.
My mother and my stepfather did their jobs. I was spiraling
Beatz: How were you
able to bring yourself back up from that downward spiral?
Quan: I found love for
self. I had to stop being selfish, because everything
I was going through, it was affecting my family, too.
I wasn't the only one doing that time. My whole family
was suffering with me. Long story short, I started f***ing
with the piano and learned how to arrange songs and
learned some chords.
Beatz: That being the
case, how quickly did you jump into the music once you
Quan: I got out of jail
on a Wednesday my man, and I went in to the studio that
Friday. Before p**sy juice on my d**k could dry, man,
I was in the studio. My manager, she introduced me to
L.E.S., and we did some songs together. One of those
songs was “Just A Moment.” Nas heard it
and dropped something to it. He put it on the album,
people went crazy about it, and you know the rest.
Beatz: So “Just
A Moment” was actually your song originally?
Quan: Yeah. I had it
done already before it went on Nas' album.
Beatz: So was it a surprise
to you that it ended up on Street's Disciple ?
Quan: Yeah, it was crazy.
I hadn't even heard it finished before I spoke to Nas
about it. We were just kicking it, talking about some
things. I had already gone to a few labels, and never
got any paper work or anything. S**t was just going
wrong for me.
Beatz: Once Nas put
it on his album, though, did you expect it to be a single?
Quan: I new I had a
hit. I love that song, and I wrote that song for my
hood. That song wasn't really written for the world.
It's a worldly song, but it was written for my hood
really. I had just lost friends. My homies were dying
left and right. My sister Tia got sent to f***ing Iraq.
My brother was in the feds with five years. That's how
that song came about. I wanted to let my n***as that
died know that they can live through me. Your fiancé
is f***ing another n***a, your grandmother is sick,
and your godmother just died. I'm in the hole, in jail,
which is a five by seven little spot. All I was getting
were two phone calls a month and two showers a week.
That's what made the kid, man. God guided me all the
way through all that. That song was written while I
was in jail, so it came from a serious point in my life.
I had to show my mother that I could do something different.
Beatz: Do you think
the song’s message and feel are going to make
people expect all conscious music from you now?
Quan: Right now, I think
they're trying to put me in a box. If you've heard my
freestyle on Hot 97, you already know what it is. I'm
a product of the street. That's what you're going to
get. You'll get life from me. My image is realness,
and my purpose is to show the Black youth that you can
come from the streets, the gutter, or the penitentiary,
and still be able to reach deep down and pull the best
out of yourself and do big things. You don't have to
settle just because you made some f***ed up decisions
and choices. I want to let my soldiers know that it's
cool to keep it gangsta and give God his glory.
Beatz: It seems like
God plays a huge part in your life.
Quan: Definitely, man.
I was a n***a that was gutter and was real dirty. I
was a monster out there, and I've done some foul s**t
in my life. God still has seen a light in me, you know,
and he’s been able to bestow many blessings upon
Beatz: For Nas to say
he's passing his baton to you on “Just A Moment”
is a serious compliment. How do you feel about his comment?
Quan: For Nas to look
at me and say that, damn right that's pressure. Pressure
is the same thing that makes a diamond what it is, though.
I don't have any problem with it. I feel honored that
he sees something with me to call me the future. That's
an honor, because there are a lot of n***as who have
had the opportunity to hold somebody's baton, but they
couldn't hold the weight. I know that I can hold the
Beatz: It seems like
everything is going great for you these days.
Quan: Yeah. With every
gift, though, there is a curse. There are a lot of preconceived
notions. Some people are expecting a n***a to fail.
Your face is on the screen, and your name is getting
known. F**k the naysayers, and f**k the haters. I'm
not even trying see any battles either, because these
n***as have the beef concept all f***ed up.
Beatz: What do you mean
Quan: I can show a rapper
some real beef. I can show a n***a beef by taking him
to the funeral home around my way in Virginia. I can
show him beef sitting outside his mother's house with
a chopper, waiting for him to come home. I can have
your mother duct taped to a chair, while a n***a run
through the crib trying to find where the money and
the coke are at. That's beef. You holding your man's
body, and half of his head is spread out across the
street, and what was a beautiful white tee is now a
messed up red one. What these n***as are talking about
is no more than friendly competition. Nobody really
wants to die or murder for real.
Beatz: On that real
note, do you have anything to say to the Rap world before
you break out?
Quan: I have a quote
from a rhyme of mine for the people. “If I could
silence every rapper that never killed or sold crack,
I swear the glory days of Hip-Hop would be back.”