One might think that the first family of battle rap might be one of the celebrity couples that have emerged over the years. Shooney da Rapper and Fettuccine 20, who have recently wedded in marital bliss, are still newlyweds. Tay Roc and Lady Caution 215 are adorable, but also a very new coupling. Anwar and Slim Reda from the A&R show on Caffeine and Champion regulars are close contenders but they don’t ring bells either. Some rappers are married, but because they are so guarded with their personal lives. They know that exposing their significant other would be fodder for a future battle (look at what Mike P did to Danny Myer’s beautiful wife and children’s mother regarding her unfortunate history of addiction).
But the Quinneys, a married couple from Houston, TX that have found notoriety by doing battle rap enactment, might have snatched the title just for doing what they love: watching cards and spazzing out during the haymakers. ALLHIPHOP.com connected with the couple to hear their over-decade-long Hip-Hop love story and how competitive emceeing is their vehicle to express how in sync they are as a unit.
What is it like to be considered the first family of battle rap?
Kevin: Man, Honestly it’s an honor. I haven’t given it much thought. I like the sound of it though! It’s a lot of people doing what we do but to be considered “the first family” shows people are catching on to our content (which is dope.) We put a lot of time and thought into it. We don’t just pick up the camera/phone and start recording.
Kiera: It’s crazy that other people see us in that light. I’ve never really given it that much thought! Honestly, it’s an honor because I was so unsure when we started this… I felt like people were going to think we were corny or trying too hard; I’m relieved that it’s been all love!
Who was the battle rap enthusiast first? Did they introduce the other?
Kevin: Definitely me, I wasn’t big on it at first but once I got my hands on my first SMACK DVD, I was hooked. I remember I’d leave my TV on all day every day playing the “Mook vs Serius Jones” battle and Kiera hated it! I’d wake up to it, go hoop, come back, maybe do a little studying, go to sleep and it’s still playing! Me and my roommates would be at the yard on campus yelling out, “DOT DOT DOT DOT DOT EAZYYYYYYYYYY!!!!”
Kiera: Kevin! He used to watch it in college and I thought nothing of it… Kinda thought it was a phase like he would get over it, but here we are 10 years later and he doesn’t even like missing the events! It grew on me over the years… I can’t say I’m an enthusiast, but I love the culture!
Who loves bars more and who loves performance more?
Kevin: It’s a mixture of the two for me. Even in a quiet room, if you got bars ill make the “Jaz face,” but you gotta have a little bit of performance to make it believable. But if I had to pick, I’d take bars over performance 60/40.
Kiera: Kevin. I hate being in front of the camera! Kevin conned me into doing a reenactment, because it was just supposed to be him doing it for fun, and it’s been us ever since!
How long have you all been together and was it a Hip-Hop love story?
Kevin: Man, we’ve been together so long I don’t “eeeem know!” We’ve been married for 7 years, but we dated for the longest. We went to church together when we were younger but never spoke. Then when I got to high school, I would always see her at my basketball games and I told my teammates “I’ma talk to her one day,” but never did. So, I ended up going to play ball in Oklahoma, and we still talked on and off. So my mom called me one day and said, “Maybe you should go after that pretty girl with the long hair.”
When my scholarship was taken away from me, I packed up and moved back home and transferred to the school she was going to! A little creepy but I wanted what I wanted!
Kiera: We don’t have a Hip-Hop love story… We’ve been together for almost 15 years on and off until we got married! He played me in high school, then I realized I was kinda cute, so he followed me to college and I have not been able to get rid of him since. [Editorial Note: Sounds like a really cute real-life Brown Sugar meets Love & Basketball and a sprinkle of Love Jones kind of love story if you ask us.]
Do your children watch battles and how do you feel about exposing them to the content?
Kevin: They’ll get exposed to it one day, but they are really young right now! We all know battle rap is uncensored and right now my son copies everything and repeats everything he hears! I don’t need him at daycare yelling “what we got, another 6-foot n**** with a death wish!”
Kiera: No… they are too young! My daughter wouldn’t even pay attention, but my son would be all ears and down to repeat anything! Our son, Khye, will get in front of the camera and act like he is rapping, so I am sure he will get into it.
When did you start doing the re-enactments? Talk about the decision.
Kevin: Man, it was sooooo random. We had just finished shooting an episode of our show and talking about relationship problems. I had just finished watching a rap battle and I thought it would be funny to reenact one. So I did a Twork “I’m strapped in” and it did ok on IG. I believe the next one Kiera decided to jump in and the engagement was pretty dope! So from then on, it just became a thing. Everyone just wants to see Kiera and I’m her plus 1. (laughs) I actually did one by myself recently and people commented “that’s what’s up … BUT WHERE IS KIERA?”
Kiera: This was all Kevin’s idea… Originally, it was only supposed to be him doing the videos, but he asked me to help him with one. The response we got was so crazy that he made me continue doing the videos with him. I am an extreme introvert, so being in front of the camera is completely out of my element… It’s funny when people meet us, they think we both are talkative and funny, BUT I am totally not!
When did you all blow? What was the first big recognition?
Kevin: Man, I’d say when I did a Murda Mook reenactment and he commented and followed us. I thought that was dope because he’s the one that got me watching battle rap. Then, later we’d just tag whoever we would reenact and hoped that they thought it was actually dope enough to repost! Many have. Recently, we had a few people tag us and tell us Daylyt mentioned us in his blog and that was cool because Day is one of my favorites right now. That confirmed that a few of the right people watch us.
Kiera: I feel like we did something major when Smack posted us and continued to post us like every week. He really pushed us to do more and put more out there because of the feedback we would get!
Which reenactment is your favorite?
Kevin: MANNNN! This is a tough one, I’m gonna give you 5.
- Kiera murdered the Ace Amin joint “This connects it”
- Brizz Rawsteen’s “Body halfway out the bag like a hash brown”
- Brizz and T Top’s “How to get away with Murda”
- Brizz and T Top’s “Split screen like it’s golden eye”
- Daylyt’s “2 5s on the side of his face” (we couldn’t stop laughing)
Kiera: I got a top 2!
Ill Will and Rum Nitty “Hold on let me get it together,” and Brizz & T-Top vs Mook & Calicoe “Man I’m tryna get Christ on the line.”
Who are your personal top 5 battlers of all times?
Kevin: ALL TIME SHEESH! That’s tough because it’s always changing for me. No order: Lux, Day, Rum, Shine, and probably Tay. But ask me again tomorrow and that will probably change lol
Kiera: I got a top 2! Hollow Da Don and Daylyt!
What other things do you do?
Kevin: I’m a dad, what you mean! (laughs) Nah, but I’m a cinematographer and editor by trade. That’s how I keep the bills paid when we aren’t shooting reenactments.
Kiera: I might just be Jamaican because I’m a hustler lol… I’m an Interior Merchandiser and Real Estate Agent, but the majority of the time a MOM!
What are some of the end goals for The Quinneys?
Kevin: Man, so I’d love to see this translate to a bigger following, where we can have a bigger impact on people’s lives. Lately, we’ve gotten messages saying how this is bigger than entertainment for some people. Just seeing a Christ-believing Black man and a Black woman love each other, have fun on a daily and be totally transparent about their issues, gives hope to those looking for a relationship like that. Sure, we’d like to have a show one day. A show where we could talk about our relationship, our kids, and whatnot, but being able to help my brothers and sisters where there’s a need outweighs anything materialistic. This sh** bigger than Nino Brown!
Kiera: I’m open… I never thought we would have made it this far! I would love for us to be able to have a platform that stems around more than just rap. I want to dive into the culture and show people what it’s really about. When our friends ask us about rap battles, they don’t get it, and they really don’t understand the reenactments. I want people to see the art behind it and see that these guys are really out here grinding!
Through all of the imaginary gun bars, the flag-waving, and the disrespect, Kevin and Kiera have found a space to inspire people. As they said, their clips are more than just entertainment but showing healthy Black love in Hip-Hop culture.