San Quinn: Escape From Alcatraz

Perhaps the same thing can happen in 2006 in The Bay that 2005 afforded Houston. With E-40 and Keak da Sneak’s “Tell Me When To Go” getting serious video and radio consideration, things may be on a turn around. Another Bay veteran intends to regain some of his market. San Quinn is apart of that […]

Perhaps the same thing can happen in 2006 in The Bay that 2005 afforded Houston. With E-40 and Keak da Sneak’s “Tell Me When To Go” getting serious video and radio consideration, things may be on a turn around. Another Bay veteran intends to regain some of his market.

San Quinn is apart of that cultural phenomenon. His latest album The Rock, is already sparking conversation. Having charted early in his career with Hustle Continues, and done extensive work Mac Dre and Andre Nickatina, San Quinn has a lot to say. The artist who admits that he lived off of guest-work, isn’t relying on too many features with his latest work. Many would think that a rapper who’s been spitting since the age of 14 would run out of things to say, but Quinn says he’s been “Holding Back All these Years”. In a feature with, Quinn speaks about the new rise of the Bay, how the murder of one man took a lot of opportunities away from the Yay, and the real deal on thizzin’. You can’t escape. Let’s take it from the top man tell me about the new album?

San Quinn: The new album is called The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds. The reason it’s called The Rock is because I’m a solid guy. Another meaning for it is in relation to Alcatraz Island. It’s a world famous penitentiary out here. It held a lot of famous criminals out here, like Al Capone and Bumpy Johnson. But I survived through the drought [of the Bay losing a lot of it’s national recognition in the early 90’s]. I put out my first record 13 years ago, in 1993. I was 14 years old, and I’m still here right now. I was here to witness the golden era of the Bay in the early 90’s, before the ‘drought’. Everybody had it crackin’: E-40, JT [Tha Bigga Figga], Young Black Brotha Records, Paris, Conscious Daughters, The Coup, Spice 1, Totally Insane, Too $hort, Master P and King George…

San Quinn: We was on BET, we was gettin’ scans, the whole thing was big! In 1995, it fizzled out – especially after ‘Pac died. When ‘Pac got hit, it was ugly. He connected California up and down, and was gonna put the Bay on, feel me? When ‘Pac died, it was like getting punched in the stomach. In a fight you might get punched in the face, and it’ll pump your adrenalin up. But you get hit in the stomach, it’ll knock al the wind out of you man. Talk to me about your life from the time ‘Pac died, to right now. How did you survive?

San Quinn: Right after ‘Pac died, I put out a record with Messy Marv called Expolsive Mode. It came out in 1998, and we had a song on there called “Pop Ya Collar”. That ended up being the craze all over America. WE dropped that first! People in New York might say, “We created Hip Hop”. People in Los Angeles might say, “We created gang bangin’”. Well, We [in the Bay] said, “Pop ya collar” first. I watched America latch onto that. What does that say about the Bay?

San Quinn: I realized that it was not about our concepts. It’s about our promotion and marketing. I survived by getting’ on compilations. I was doing verses between two hundred and fifty dollars, to a thousand dollars at the time. This was money under the table. This was “un-table” money. They can listen and try to figure it out all they want, but it’s incalculable. But it was legal though. That’s how I got my money to stay fresh, get a car, keep my clothes and s**t together. I got married and had kids…I basically survived sellin’ verses. Nothing else?

San Quinn: Of course I dabbled and dibbled in a few things. But I was always known for bustin’ raps, comin’ to your studio, and sellin’ verses. The Fillmore District in San Francisco has a rich history that many are really not aware of. Back in the day, it was a high-end, beautiful, Black area known for its Jazz clubs and restaurants, and things like that. Over time poverty and crack destroyed the Fillmore. Ironically though a lot of dope MC’s came from that area. Bay Area pioneers Hugh E MC and DJ X-1, JT, DJ Positively Red, Rappin 4Tay, DJ Pause, Andre Nickatina, DJ Polo, Will Power and Muhammad Bilal- theres a long list…

San Quinn: …T-mor and Schwinn, Psycho Gangsta, Seff the Gaffla, Mesay Marv, Double D- all of us verbally are devastating. But why do all these dope MC’s come from the Fillmore?

San Quinn: San Francisco is a major metropolitan city. It’s a lot like New York, though. We know our history. I like to compare Fillmore to Harlem. We fly out here. We finesse dudes, we’re educated in the school, plus on the block. Like the Jazz era you were talkin’ about – the flavor is already in the air. It just moved over to the rap thing. That’s what I could credit it to. For people who might not have heard from San Quinn since those BET days, what should they know about The Rock?

San Quinn: They should expect to learn about the Fillmore. If they wanna know how a playa feel from Fillmore, how a pimp type guy feel from Fillmore, you can listen to The Rock and find out about it. You can find out about a young man who’d been rappin’ for 14 years who’s a real MC. I can go with the best of ‘em. Right now, the Bay is in it’s second surge. It’s all about the hyphy movement. I was talking to Chace Infinite from Self Scientific. He had come to visit the Bay and he noted how much of the Bay scene is rooted in the use of “thizz” [ecstasy tablets]. It came up again talking to another journalist in the Bay, named JR. You can see thizz tabs all over kids myspace pages these days. You got a lot of kids out here using E like everyday. There’s a lot of frightening statistics about the effect of Thizz on the brain stem, the spinal chord. What are your thoughts about the impact of thizz on the Bay scene right now?

San Quinn: That right there… that’s heavy. But really think that a lot of this starts at home. It’s about home training. I mean, mothaf**kas been rapping about sellin’ crack and sellin’ dope for years. It’s probably gonna be just like gangsta rap. You can’t stop the killin’. You might not stop the drug use. It’s going to up to the individual to realize that they are listening to music. You are not watching a movie….well, some people do. That’s not what our movement is about. It’s about being hype on the mic, being hyphy, shakin’ our dreads and dancin’ how we dance out here. That’s like sayin’ you gotta be drunk to be crunk. It ain’t like that.

Adisa Banjoko is the controversial author of the highly anticipated Lyrical Swords Vol. 2: Westside Rebellion, due out March 4th 2006. For more information visit