Since his well-received AllHipHop.com blog, TQ has been busy promoting
his latest album Paradise. Witness to some dirt inside the
famous Ca$h Money Records camp, the artist seemed to double his fan base
overnight after spilling the beans on his former label. So after many of you
requested it, we managed to get hold of TQ amidst his busy international tour
schedule and sat him down to fire some questions at him that many of you told
us you wanted to know the answers to. So without further ado its time to
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: So how have you been since we last
caught up with you?
TQ: Im good man. Im blessed. Thats the way I
could say it best. To be able to stay in this business and constantly do music
and put music out like I have all these years is a beautiful thing.
AHHA: Your 2008 AllHipHop.com blog took off last year and
seemed to garner a lot of attention. Would you do it again?
TQ: Dove, my publicist who hooked all of this up, had
actually told me that the people at AllHipHop.com wanted me to write some more.
The thing is I really wanted to get into the international release of my new
album to kinda connect where I left off with the blog. Its not really that
time yet. I dont have the next part of the story just yet.
Once Paradise comes out in Europe and we start seeing whats
happening thats when Ill be able to tie it all in. At that point thats when
it can keep going. I can write as I go and can let everybody know what Im
into. I just think my position is unique, and if I can give a play-by-play of
the moves Im making, right and wrong, its a blueprint for those who come
behind me to do this thing the correct way. Thats basically what the holdup
AHHA: You were signed to Cash Money, which a lot of your
AllHipHop.com blog was based upon, since splitting from them have they hit you
TQ: [laughs] Actually I have a
really funny story. I havent told anybody about this. The morning of the part
of the blog that outlined the Jailhouse Love story which bearing in
mind you guys named them different to what I named them I got a MySpace
message from [Lil] Wayne. Wayne says, Yo, I like the new Sexy joint. I need
to get on that. Let me get on the remix. Send me the mp3. He gave me his email
and everything. Sure enough I sent him the instrumental and Im saying to
myself, Now watch me. As soon as he sees this AllHipHop.com feature hes gonna
be mad as sh*t.
[laughing even louder] So, sure enough the article goes live maybe two
or three hours later, I came back to my computer and Wayne had erased his whole
MySpace. It said, This profile no longer exists, the message had a big X
through it and I got a text from Baby. It said something about seeing each
other or something like that. It was some kind of whack ass philosophy he be
talking about, but whatever. It was so funny. It was just hilarious.
As it turns out I havent heard from those guys ever since. I have
talked to Juve[nile], I have talked to Turk, and I have talked to B.G. and I
have talked to [Mannie] Fresh, and they got a kick out of it. The people that
were there, the people that were around, and not only them but a bunch of other
artists, Ive talked to who used to be around the situation, that I wont bring
into it, not just artists but other personalities, they know the reality of it.
It is what it is. It aint about airing dirty laundry. Its just the truth is
AHHA: While at Ca$h Money you witnessed the rise and rise of
Lil Wayne up close and personal, you were even featured on his 500 Degreez album. What
was he like before Wayne-mania took over? What was it that blew him up, and do
you think that his newly found fame is warranted?
TQ: Yes definitely. Waynes fame is without a doubt
warranted. Wayne works! He works harder than any of those other cats. He always
has from the beginning. Hes always been the most diligent, hes been the most
creative, and he is the most gifted out of all of them. So what hes getting
now is definitely 100 percent deserved, and I hope he gets as much as he
possibly can get. When it comes down to an artist I respect that dude. I
watched it first hand. Hes always been a lil beast, hes always in the
studio, hes always working, so all the good things that have happened he
deserves 100 percent.
AHHA: Was he your favorite of the Ca$h Money clique?
TQ: B.G. was always my favourite out of Ca$h Money from
day one. Hes the first one I ever heard before I even knew who Ca$h Money
were. Hes always as real as it gets and hes always the same way. On top of
that, with him Ive never seen anybodys city have a back like they do his. I
mean dude is the King of New Orleans! I dont care what Baby says or what
Master P says. B.G. and Soulja Slim, R.I.P., were the Kings of New Orleans.
Right now its straight up B.G. His City loves him because he keeps it hood
with them period.
AHHA: Your new album, Paradise, dropped in
the middle of last year over here in the U.S., and youve mentioned that its
in the process of being released in Europe, so tell us about it.
TQ: For me I feel like its my best work yet. I guess
thats a bold statement for all the They Never Saw Me Coming fans. I just
think the way it came about was really organic, just like that record did. With
my first album, I went into the studio with Mike, Femi and Rick Rock and we
just built everything from scratch. Thats the way I did [Paradise]. I went in
with Static [Major], and I went in with Deezle and everything just came from
scratch. There was no listening through beats, we were just creating stuff as
we went along.
I think because of that it allowed me to spread my wings a little bit
more. Most of my previous albums have been message driven, whereas this time
around I just wanted to do some good music and do it from the standpoint of
accomplishment and confidence. Ive never had the opportunity to say, Ok, let
me sit back and look at my success and what Ive done and celebrate a lil
bit. For me, this album is definitely a celebration of how far Ive come.
AHHA: Where does the title come from?
TQ: It was the first song we did for the album. Myself and
Static Major sat down and knocked this one out. As I mentioned before, its all
to do with a sense of accomplishment. Also, it was a record that came out
exactly the way I heard it in my head before we even laid it down. I put
together a plan, The song needs to come out sounding exactly like this, and
thats precisely what happened. I think that comes from experience, confidence
and being able to do what I do for so long.
Its like not that Im calling myself Michael Jordan but
if theres four seconds left on the clock and hes got the ball, hes expecting
himself to make that shot, while everyone in the arena is expecting him to make
that shot. Thats just what I felt like going into making this record, and
throughout this record, and for me thats paradise. To musically be where
youve been trying to get to for a long time, and you feel like youre finally
there, thats paradise.
AHHA: Hows the album been performing?
TQ: The albums doing ok. Things picked up when we
released the single Sexy to iTunes. The albums selling a couple thousand a
week, which Ive always said for an independent release, you always wanna do
better, but when your per CD take is f**kin 500 percent better than it was the
first time around you can sell one fifth of the records. The way I gauge an
independent project is am I making money on it? And I am making money on it. So
I wanna continue to get it going bigger.
My thing is when it comes to the U.S., I dont put too much into the
promotions and marketing pot. Simply because the way the music scene is right
now, I couldnt see any return on it. Its just not gonna be there. I save my
main bulk of promotion dollars for Asia and Europe. For the next couple of
months, itll be Europe and seeing what we can do with that, and then well
move on to Japan, dip over to Australia and then back to the rest of Asia. As a
business man and an independent Im happy.
AHHA: The album sees quite a few high profile features,
including Krayzie Bone, B.G. and Jagged Edge. Being that youve been out of the
limelight for a bit how did you establish these collaborations?
TQ: The thing Im most proud about of my entire career is
the respect level that I have in the streets and by my peers. Ive been off the
scene for a minute as far as doing something of this caliber at least, and cats
still be in the streets and its all love from everybody. So when I pick up the
phone and make that call, by the grace of God people answer. Thats basically
what it was. There was a couple of guys I really wanted to get down with on
this album, so I called them up and they were with it.
The Krayzie Bone thing happened because, well I got in to this acting
scene real heavy back in 06 and we were both reading for this movie part. I
saw him in the elevator at the casting call and I told him I had a record I
thought was perfect for him and he said send it to me and Im on it. He did it
the next day and sent it back to me just like that. Its just respect. Thats
all it comes down to.
AHHA: As a man
that knows the importance of collaborating with rappers and making it sound
hot, what would you consider important when choosing a rapper to collaborate
TQ: For Paradise in particular, I have
relationships with all of the featured artists. Theyre all my friends. Each
one of them I did records with before. As far as the other features that I have
done, I like to do records with people that I respect, people whose music I am a
fan of. That would come first when Im picking a person to collaborate with.
Whereas a record company would just turn around and say, Do a record with the
hottest person out right now. They convince you that you could get hot with
them. For me its not necessarily about that. I wanna do records with people
that are in my deck. I like to work with have touched me in some kind of way
with their music already.
AHHA: Being that youre now enjoying independent life,
whats your take on label politics and how the grass isnt always greener?
Also, what advice would you give to todays artist trying to make it in this
dog eat dog business?
TQ: I can only speak from my experience obviously, which
is kind of a unique experience. All of the things that I could say bad about a
label and a label situation, I can say because Im in a position to say that. I
have a fan base already. I dont need anybodys help to actually get people who
know me. The way I see it, its about anywhere from around 500,000 people to a
million people, and Im shooting low, around the world who know who I am and
have heard my music before. I dont need anybodys help to start up with those
listeners. I can start with them on my own with the internet, a couple of
airline tickets and keep it moving. I dont need to sign half my life away for
somebody to take care of my expenses and then charge me triple or quadruple
what they spent.
For a new artist its not easy to build a fan base as an independent.
Its a lot of work; it takes a lot of money and theres no return at the
beginning. If youre in a position where your finances allow you to do that and
you want to take that road, then odds are itll come back around. However, it
wont be a quick process. Its not a quick investment. Now a situation like a
Ca$h Money or a clique or a group of artists who already have a fan base, go
there and steal that sh*t. Go there and make their fans your fans and then
leave them alone. Thats basically what I did.
I had Westside, Bye Bye Baby, none of my records got played in the
South at all. Sexy, Paradise, Right On, and everything Ive dropped
since Ca$h Money always plays in the South first, even before the West Coast.
And thats because I spent three years or better down there infiltrating their
fan base, and making their fans know me and my music. So when I left [Ca$h
Money], I took a little bit of that with me. I didnt necessarily take it away
from them, but a lot of Ca$h Money fans also became TQ fans. To put it all in
one big bubble, it depends on the situation that youre personally in, and to
be doing music in 2009 as an independent, youre nothing without your fan
AHHA: There seems to be a lack of quality R&B/soul
artists stepping in to the spotlight today, why do you think this is?
TQ: People are more caught up on the flash, the glamour,
and everything else that surrounds todays popular culture. The young kids
today arent listening to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield or Smokey Robinson like
I was. Theyre listening to hell I dont even know what theyre listening to.
Maybe R. Kelly or Chris Brown, and thats not a problem. Theres a place for
all of these cats, but that type of music lacks a bit of that substance
necessary to actually call it Soul music. Its based more on making people
Like I said, thats not a problem, but the meat is gone there. I mean
theres a lot of potatoes and a lot of vegetables, but there aint no meat on
the plate. A lot of people aint gonna be happy; weve gotta put meat back on
the plate. The only way thats gonna happen is if theres a revolution within
the genre from the major artists where they take control of what type of music
theyre gonna be doing from here on out. To achieve that they would need to
leave their current situations when their contracts are up.
AHHA: So whats next for TQ?
TQ: Im always gonna make music. Its just what I love to
do. I do the same thing when I dont have to work when I do have to work. Im
into film pretty heavy at the moment. Im moving into some extensive training
on the acting side of things. Im getting off into scores. Im just about to
start the first film from my own production company; its called When The
Smoke Clears. Thats really it. Im diversifying. Its definitely
more about moving into the movie side of things. Its just something I like to
**To get the latest AllHipHop Alternatives Features, follow us on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/AHHalternatives**