Trials of TQ: An Epic Tale of F**kery

Thank God…This game is not about talent. It’s all about who you know…I guess I knew the right people. For this column, and also not to incriminate anybody, I’m gonna call him “Santa Monica Jim.” He was the one person inside Sony Music Publishing that was willing to show me how to make some bread. He said to me, “Man you gotta mean something! In order to better your situation with this company, you’ve got to bring this company something lucrative that they have the lions’ share of…go and make your own record,” he said. “You constantly bring me demos where you sound better than the artist that I place them on. Let’s set about making an album for you. You write all the songs…” That’s when the light went on in my head. See, I was under contract to turn in ten songs a year. An album of my own would fulfill my commitment and allow me to renegotiate. Now it’s on…I grew up around rappers. All my homies used to rap. I used to write raps for some of them and they would battle. I had tight raps, but when I’d say them they sounded wack. My voice just wasn’t built for that sh*t man. I always sang a little bit, so that’s what I stuck to. I’ve never been comfortable around the R&B, shiny suit, silly-type sh*t. It just ain’t me. So I knew that if I did my own record it’d have to be something totally different from what was out there. I had to be able to be myself. Khakis, Chucks, bang in my white tee…ya dig? Is that sh*t possible for R&B? Can this be pulled off effectively? Dawg, I’m not dancin’ around in tight clothes. I’m not making bullshit songs. I gotta look in the mirror and love myself everyday. I gotta sleep well at night…This is the story of They Never Saw Me Coming.This was my first solo album. It was 1997 and a year after Pac passed. Sh*t was not looking good on the West Coast. Now was I ‘Pac? Hell no! Not by a long shot, but I did believe that I had something within me that my people could connect to. The point of this column is the fact that it’s all about who you know. I found myself a good team…I had just linked up with Mike Mosley to do a song on a Tupac tribute project with Afeni Shakur. This project was a joint venture being funded by a businesswoman whom we’ll call “Big Bank Deb” for now. The song we did was “Westside.” At the time I was caught up in a slave deal with Atlantic Records, who wanted me to sing soft ass music and dance around like a Herb. That sh*t was not happening. I turned in song after song of “Reality R&B” and they refused it ALL! F**k! I was hating life until “Westside”…They accepted “Westside” and wanted it to be my single! Finally! But wait a minute… Y’ALL DON’T OWN THAT SONG!!!! BIYAAAATCH!!! “Westside” belonged to Deb… She wouldn’t give it up, and Atlantic dropped me. Thank God for that. Seems this lady had a plan already. Put me and Mike in the studio and record an album based on “Westside”…Sounds good to me. Mike had the beats, Deb had the dough and I had the skills to bring it all together…They never saw us coming.Andre Harrell did, however. He signed us to a sick deal with Epic records and we walked outta there ballin’ outta control. Everybody bought new houses and cars and sh*t and felt f**kin’ great! This is what the music business is all about right? Mr. Chow’s every other night, chicks, clothes and money! Gotta love it cuz now I’m living the MTV life. My album is done. It’s hot, and the staff at Epic is going crazy. We drop “Westside” to rave reviews around the world. It becomes a Top Ten single in about 20 countries. I’m spending more time with the Virgin Atlantic flight attendants than I am with my girlfriend. Sh*t is poppin’!!!! Then Andre bounces, and Epic fires the whole U.S. staff… Here comes some bullsh*t.Enter the new “improved” Epic staff. I call them the Black Suits… I mean these ni**as actually came to work dressed alike! They didn’t have a f**king clue. In the first label meeting, I hear, “We want you to be the next Ginuwine!” What??? Here we go again… Exit TQ… I told them I had to go to the bathroom, went downstairs and had my driver take me to Willy Burger. Ginuwine? Me? Ni**a please! I took my a** overseas where I was really poppin’ and wouldn’t come back. Epic International had their finger on it and were doing an unbelievable job. Deb secured me 33 points on my album, and the masters belonged to us. I wrote every song. The Black Suits meant nothing to me. I didn’t even have to accept them ni**as calls. Then Europe changed over their monetary unit to the Euro. At the time that was $1.70. Do the math. I’m staying over here! When I come home I’m on vacation, ya dig? I barely touched Gold in the U.S. After “Westside” came and went, the Black Suits didn’t drop another single until six months later. “Bye Bye Baby” bricked in the U.S. cuz I wouldn’t come back to promote it. Before it came out, I remember I was at a convention buying drinks for and smoking out one of the most powerful radio consultants in the business. He told me how much he loved my sh*t but would NEVER play it because the head of radio at my company was banging his wife! He told me this to my face on the balcony! While he was smoking my weed! I wanted to throw his ass over! This is some bullshit!! In Europe and Asia I was on my third single and second concert tour. F**k it! No need to come home, right? Wrong. I had something to take care of. Sony Music Publishing was still sticking it to me. “We gotta renegotiate.” We did. “Gimmie my check, I got a long flight to catch.” Until Dr. Dre called up saying that he needed an opening act for a little tour that he was putting together called “Up In Smoke”… NI**A WHAT? Pencil me in big homie! The rest of the world would have to wait! No airplay in the U.S., janky sales in the US, and my favorite producer of all time, a member my favorite group of all time, wants to put me on stage in front of 20,000 fans for 47 nights? The Black Suits are gonna love this!They didn’t. They told me not to go on tour. Go back in the studio and record a new album. Take dance lessons and we’re gonna buy you some black suits lol! What? Yall ni**as still on this sh*t? That was the end. I told them to eat a d*ck and bounced up outta 550 Madison Ave like a Mannie Fresh beat. We had some bread so I did it myself. I went on tour with Dre, Snoop, Cube, Ren, Mack 10, Dub C, Warren G, Eminem, Xzibit, and the Eastsidaz. It was the most memorable time in my career. I’ll never forget that sh*t. It was the greatest concert tour Black music has ever seen, but I no longer had a record deal…Now what?Well a couple months before the tour, I had befriended two hustlers from way down in the jungle deep. Ronald and Brian a.k.a. the Williams brothaz… Maybe I should join the Army…Better yet the Navy. But that’s another story…Tune in next time for the story of CMR…This should be interesting…Read TQ's first Alternatives column hereYou can find TQ and informaton about his new album Paradise at