Trials of TQ: The Re-Up Interview

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 it’s time to

revisit TQ…

 

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: So how have you been since we last

caught up with you?

 

TQ: I’m good man. I’m blessed. That’s 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. It’s not really that

time yet. I don’t have the next part of the story just yet.

 

Once Paradise comes out in Europe and we start seeing what’s

happening that’s when I’ll be able to tie it all in. At that point that’s when

it can keep going. I can write as I go and can let everybody know what I’m

into. I just think my position is unique, and if I can give a play-by-play of

the moves I’m making, right and wrong, it’s a blueprint for those who come

behind me to do this thing the correct way. That’s basically what the holdup

is.

 

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

back?

 

TQ: [laughs] Actually I have a

really funny story. I haven’t 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 I’m saying to

myself, “Now watch me. As soon as he sees this AllHipHop.com feature he’s 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 haven’t 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, I’ve talked to who used to be around the situation, that I won’t bring

into it, not just artists but other personalities, they know the reality of it.

It is what it is. It ain’t about airing dirty laundry. It’s just the truth is

the truth.

 

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. Wayne’s fame is without a doubt

warranted. Wayne works! He works harder than any of those other cats. He always

has from the beginning. He’s always been the most diligent, he’s been the most

creative, and he is the most gifted out of all of them. So what he’s 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. He’s always been a lil’ beast, he’s always in the

studio, he’s 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. He’s the first one I ever heard before I even knew who Ca$h Money

were. He’s always as real as it gets and he’s always the same way. On top of

that, with him I’ve never seen anybody’s city have a back like they do his. I

mean dude is the King of New Orleans! I don’t 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 it’s 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 you’ve mentioned that it’s

in the process of being released in Europe, so tell us about it.

 

TQ: For me I feel like it’s my best work yet. I guess

that’s 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. That’s 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. I’ve never had the opportunity to say, “Ok, let

me sit back and look at my success and what I’ve done and celebrate a lil’

bit.” For me, this album is definitely a celebration of how far I’ve 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, it’s 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

that’s precisely what happened. I think that comes from experience, confidence

and being able to do what I do for so long.

 

It’s like – not that I’m calling myself Michael Jordan – but

if there’s four seconds left on the clock and he’s got the ball, he’s expecting

himself to make that shot, while everyone in the arena is expecting him to make

that shot. That’s just what I felt like going into making this record, and

throughout this record, and for me that’s paradise. To musically be where

you’ve been trying to get to for a long time, and you feel like you’re finally

there, that’s paradise.

 

AHHA: How’s the album been performing?

 

TQ: The album’s doing ok. Things picked up when we

released the single “Sexy” to iTunes. The album’s selling a couple thousand a

week, which I’ve 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 don’t put too much into the

promotions and marketing pot. Simply because the way the music scene is right

now, I couldn’t see any return on it. It’s just not gonna be there. I save my

main bulk of promotion dollars for Asia and Europe. For the next couple of

months, it’ll be Europe and seeing what we can do with that, and then we’ll

move on to Japan, dip over to Australia and then back to the rest of Asia. As a

business man and an independent I’m happy.

 

AHHA: The album sees quite a few high profile features,

including Krayzie Bone, B.G. and Jagged Edge. Being that you’ve been out of the

limelight for a bit how did you establish these collaborations?

 

TQ: The thing I’m most proud about of my entire career is

the respect level that I have in the streets and by my peers. I’ve 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 it’s all love from everybody. So when I pick up the

phone and make that call, by the grace of God people answer. That’s 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 I’m on it. He did it

the next day and sent it back to me just like that. It’s just respect. That’s

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

with?

 

TQ: For Paradise in particular, I have

relationships with all of the featured artists. They’re 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 I’m 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 it’s 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 you’re now enjoying independent life,

what’s your take on label politics and how the grass isn’t always greener?

Also, what advice would you give to today’s 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 I’m in a position to say that. I

have a fan base already. I don’t need anybody’s help to actually get people who

know me. The way I see it, it’s about anywhere from around 500,000 people to a

million people, and I’m shooting low, around the world who know who I am and

have heard my music before. I don’t need anybody’s 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 don’t 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 it’s not easy to build a fan base as an independent.

It’s a lot of work; it takes a lot of money and there’s no return at the

beginning. If you’re in a position where your finances allow you to do that and

you want to take that road, then odds are it’ll come back around. However, it

won’t be a quick process. It’s 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. That’s 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 I’ve dropped

since Ca$h Money always plays in the South first, even before the West Coast.

And that’s 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 didn’t 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 you’re personally in, and to

be doing music in 2009 as an independent, you’re nothing without your fan

base. 

 

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 today’s popular culture. The young kids

today aren’t listening to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield or Smokey Robinson like

I was. They’re listening to… hell I don’t even know what they’re listening to.

Maybe R. Kelly or Chris Brown, and that’s not a problem. There’s 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. It’s based more on making people

dance.

 

Like I said, that’s not a problem, but the meat is gone there. I mean

there’s a lot of potatoes and a lot of vegetables, but there ain’t no meat on

the plate. A lot of people ain’t gonna be happy; we’ve gotta put meat back on

the plate. The only way that’s gonna happen is if there’s a revolution within

the genre from the major artists where they take control of what type of music

they’re 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 what’s next for TQ?

 

TQ: I’m always gonna make music. It’s just what I love to

do. I do the same thing when I don’t have to work when I do have to work. I’m

into film pretty heavy at the moment. I’m moving into some extensive training

on the acting side of things. I’m getting off into scores. I’m just about to

start the first film from my own production company; it’s called When The

Smoke Clears. That’s really it. I’m diversifying. It’s definitely

more about moving into the movie side of things. It’s just something I like to

do.

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