There is a good chance that you haven’t heard from TQ since 1998, when he debuted on Epic Records with his genre bending album They Never Saw Me Comin’. His soulful crooning was not your usual brand of “love me down” belting, but was rather a virtual reflection in theme and lyricism of the hard edged west coast Hip Hop he grew up listening to in Los Angeles. While the first album spawned the hit single “Westside” and was well-received by both fans and critics alike, his second album, The Second Coming, loosed the single “Daily” but did not fare as well in any regard.
When TQ moved on from Epic and signed with the white hot label Cash Money, it was just a matter of time before he blew up into a MTV coated superstar, right? Actually, that was not the case. The mega star explosion never happen, and Cash Money never released the completed album.
In 2004, TQ is back with a new independent album, Listen, which is full evidence of the new maturity and happiness he has learned to accept as he has grown older and wiser. So why didn’t the Cash Money situation work out, and what else is TQ up to? Allhiphop.com Alternatives has the answers.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: I saw you last year in Miami with Mannie Fresh and Baby of Cash Money, and they were eagerly introducing you as one of their artists. What happen with that relationship?
TQ: Basically they didn’t put out my album before my contract was up. I did a three year deal with Cash Money and they didn’t put the album out with in the time frame that the contract called for, so I just bounced. I looked at Cash Money like my last little bit of boot camp before I stepped out on my own. I wanted to see how their company operated and how Baby and Slim ran their company, and I wanted to soak up some things from Fresh. I didn’t turn out into what I thought it would be, but business is business. I just try to take the positive out of it.
AHHA: So your relationship with Cash Money ended on a cordial note, there wasn’t any bitterness?
TQ: No, there wasn’t any bitterness. They couldn’t be mad at the decision I made – it was based on my personal needs. I’m sure if it were left up to Baby and Slim I would still be signed there, but at the same time they knew I had to do my own thing.
AHHA: So the album was done, was it mainly Mannie Fresh production? What did the album sound like?
TQ: Yeah the album was done. It was mainly Mannie on production, but I think that me and Fresh had one idea of what the album should have been, and Baby and Slim had another idea of what the album should have been. We just could never see eye to eye on the sound of the album and the concepts. Me and Fresh wanted the album to be more like my first album, whereas Baby and Slim are about money so they wanted me to play straight to the women. They wanted me to be the R&B love guy and that’s just never been my thing. So the album that we ended up with was a good album, but it’s not a TQ album.
AHHA: That’s really unfortunate, because I would have really loved to hear you over some of that Mannie production.
TQ: Yeah, he’s not really known as an R&B producer but he showed his ass on the tracks we did. If that album would have been a Jaheim album or someone like that, it would have really worked, but that’s just never been me. I need to feel comfortable in what I’m putting out there. I’ve got a lot of things I need to say and I feel like I’ve been put in this position by God for a reason, so I’ve got a duty to say certain things to my people. I spent a lot of time on that record with Cash Money just not really saying nothing. If I were to put on a suit and start passing out roses [chuckles], that’s just not real.
AHHA: What’s the difference between TQ in 1998 and TQ now?
TQ: In 1998 I was a mad dude and I think it showed in the music. I also think that was a reason a lot of people ended up liking the record. I was young and I was still close to a lot of s### that had gone on in my life, whereas on this record I’m older and I’m reaching a little more musically. I produced a lot of this record and the overall tone is positive. I’ve matured since the last record, I’m a father now, and I’ve had a chance to travel the world. I’m not constantly stuck in the b####### anymore so that reflects in the mood and sound of the music.
AHHA: Being from Los Angeles and being a Laker fan, do you have an opinion on the Shaq trade and the role Kobe may have played in it?
TQ: It’s purple and gold baby, ain’t none of them [guys] bigger than purple and gold, they all could go as far as I’m concerned. You could put some high school kids in that uniform and I’ll still be a Laker fan. So nah, I don’t have an opinion on that.
AHHA: You got anything else going on?
TQ: I just got my first movie part. I’m going down to Mexico to shot in a couple of weeks. The movie is called The Devil Inside and I’m real excited about it. It’s not like I’m the star of the movie, but I’m gonna try it out. If I do okay, I might do some more movies; if I’m wack, you’ll never see me on film again.
For more on TQ, check out www.thugpoetry.com