Our Conversation with Former Nas Protégé, Quan
Hailing from Bridgeport, Connecticut, by way of Newport News, Virginia, Quan, née Clifford Peacock, literally hit the ground running all due to a little ditty called, “Just a Moment.” Taken from Nas’ 2004 Street’s Disciple opus, the L.E.S. laced heartfelt slow burner, which samples Chic’s “Will You Cry (When You Hear This Song),” saw Quan and his mentor waxing poetics about observing silence for those dealing with different life struggles; from victims of violence in the ghetto to soldiers fighting in Iraq. A promising recording contract with Ill WIll Records soon followed, until his, then, highly anticipated debut solo collection, Until my Death, was unexpectedly shelved indefinitely.
Flash forward twelve-plus years later, and quiet as kept Quan ain’t went anywhere. Parlé Magazine recently had the good fortune of catching up with the revered wordsmith to discuss all things; past, present and future…
Parlé Mag: First things first, let’s discuss this anthem-like single/video, “Warrior’z Way,” which is the theme song to The Hurt Business documentary. Tell me what particular string of events actually led to this union?
Quan: I did a feature in a movie called Generation Iron with, Vlad Yudin, the director of Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine… did a lot of great work—Big Pun: (The) Legacy… basically he liked my work, and that kinda developed into a great working relationship to multiple movies. The Hurt Business was the next film that came out, and I ended up producing a record for that movie and it became the theme song of that film, which is basically a major documentary about MMA fighting – the UFC – featuring Ronda Rousey, Rashad Evans… a lot of top notch fighters; Chuck Liddell and so on and so on. People loved the record, gravitated toward the record, so we decided to shoot a video for the record and that’s what happened… and the response been great.
Parlé Mag: Which brings us to your long overdue proper studio follow-up to your 2009 solo debut, Walking Testimony…
Quan: To go back a little bit… okay my first album that I did, Walking Testimony, most of my music, you know, revolves around real life situations and circumstances. So with this album, Walking Testimony kinda really touched on me being a person coming from the streets and the transition from that to a full term artist, so now you have Point Of No Return. Basically it’s a story being told about a young man trying to leave his past life behind and stepping into something new. And that’s what it means to me; the Point Of No Return, leaving the past in the past, living positive in the present to create a better future.
Parlé Mag: With that being said, and I know you just touched on the transition between albums, but how does the new record either differ and/or compare to previous Quan efforts?
Quan: At this moment, I sing probably just as much as I rap if not a little more; more musical. I always challenge myself as an artist; lyrically, vocally, always. I just do. And I’m my own worst critic, and I share my music with others and I accept honest raw criticism, you know. I call it the “Goosebump Theory,” but that’s the difference. And I’ve grown musically; musicianship-wise, as well as singing-wise. It’s just really about understanding music, being true to yourself; and when you do that and you’re solid in your craft and you know what you can do to challenge yourself as an artist to transcend. I think a lot of times people fall off or they lose that substance in their sound, because they become complacent and lazy. So, yeah, I’m surprised; I can tell you that my confidence in my singing ability has grown tremendously – my ear for production – and I just love the project, man. It’s amazing to me, it’s amazing.
Parlé Mag: In having said that, was the singing aspect always in it for you from the beginning, or was it more-so solely rap from early on?
Quan: Actually to be honest with you, it was to do both and I’ll explain why… and I thank God that it happened in the way that it did. And what I mean by that is, I was the first dude, if not one of the very first – I don’t really know nobody else that, it wasn’t nobody else – that was as street and urban as me rapping and singing. Like I made that acceptable. You couldn’t talk hardcore shit and sing. I made that acceptable, and I’m thankful that history speaks that. I’m glad. I love it. It allows me to be more musical, you know. I love the fact that Drake is as successful, Young Thug and Future, and I love it, you know.
Parlé Mag: So then do you feel a bit underappreciated or even an unsung hero as far as merging the melody with the lyricism?
Quan: Definitely, definitely. It’s actual factual. I don’t know nobody, and it was a hit record and till this day it’s still considered a classic. Thank God, you know.
Parlé Mag: Speaking of that ‘classic,’ “Just a Moment,” which ultimately led to your inking with Nas’ Atlantic Recordings’ distributed, now defunct, Ill Will Records. Why do you think things didn’t work out as planned with that whole label situation?
Quan: It was a combination of things honestly. Without even getting real, real deep into it, I didn’t agree with the contract, you know, I didn’t agree with certain things contractually and eventually me and Nas’ personal relationship was cool, the business though I wasn’t feeling that. And Atlantic was trying to get Nas to do and move a certain way that Nas don’t do and move, but in order to be an executive you have to do certain things and move certain ways like, “This is what you have to do!” But as an artist, hey, man, A-1 person – that was my homey – but as an executive when it comes to running a record label hands on, like at that point in time, it wasn’t where it should’ve been. So I walked away from it. We went our separate ways, it was all good.
Parlé Mag: You did, however, complete a full length solo LP, Until my Death, while still there, correct?
Quan: Yeah, I had a bunch of records, even, you know, I had a good amount of records even going into the label. But, again, and I’ll say this, I had some growing to do, too. My understanding of the music business then and the music business now, is totally different. Gotta understand, I had just come home from the penitentiary, like all I knew was street shit, see what I’m saying. So I mean, it’s just a process; you live and you learn and you grow.
Parlé Mag: Because you had such a major introduction with “Just a Moment,” has it been more difficult for you to step out of that shadow, so to speak, and completely separate yourself from that entire situation?
Quan: I mean I don’t even separate, I just take it for what it is and I do music. Like that’s it. I’m not gonna stop doing music, and people not gonna let me stop doing music, and I couldn’t imagine not doing music, you know. For me, it’s something different. If millions of people end up hearing it, great, but for me, my dream come true; if, shit, 50,000 people, 100,000 people, tune into what Quan got to say every year and break bread, it’s a blessing.
Parlé Mag: Of course you’ve been actively continuing to pursue your career independently, but following your departure from Ill Will/Atlantic how then have you managed to stay relevant and keep your head above water in an industry as grueling as the music business?
Quan: Movies… and, like I just said, I already got two placements in a movie that’s coming out in May, Generation Iron 2, things like that, and grinding. I had a beautiful record [“All On Him”], that’s also included on my album, with Pusha T, that did good, you know. Just working, man.
Let me tell you something, you can be a person that don’t have a bunch of hit records, but you can have a respected brand name, and money can’t buy that. There’s a lot of dudes that had hit records that nobody cares to hear nothing from no more. So to still travel and meet people, and/or the response over the internet or things like that, and their reaction, people walking around with my name or verses tattooed on them, people crying like, “Yo, you just don’t know what kind of trials and tribulations your music has brought me through,” like that matters. And, again, it doesn’t matter if it’s only 5,000 people listening, it matters. It’s still a purpose to it still. So that’s how I view it. So at the end of the day, like for me to still know that I am a part of Hip Hop history, that I do have a respected sound, I’m blessed. I appreciate that. I just feel like (as) long as I stay current and, you know, every year it gets bigger, put it that way. And there’ll never be another year that or album, at least one bomb ass album will drop, until I can’t no more. Like maybe two, ’cause I got hella music. I just moved to Georgia for that very purpose, and that’s what I mean by the Point Of No Return, like it’s deep.
Parlé Mag: To stay on the topic of independent artists in Hip-Hop, Chance the Rapper, arguably this genre’s biggest artist at this time anyway, has accomplished some major feats while staving himself from major record companies…
Quan: First of all, I like Chance the Rapper, let me say that, and I love the fact that we can be musical, you know. I love his albums, especially the last one. But I think it’s marketing and promotion, and having a solid team. But at the end of the day, (even if) you have good music it’s really about relationships, man, and marketing and promotions. That’s what it boils down to, that and relationships.
Parlé Mag: It’s been reported that in 2008 you aligned yourself with producer Just Blaze when you entered into a partnership with his Fort Knocks venture…
Quan: No, man, I don’t know where that came from! No, I don’t know where that came from. I swear I don’t. I seen it; I don’t know how to change it. Though (my) only relationship that I got or had with Just Blaze is me and Saigon real cool and we’ve done a few things together, that’s it. I don’t know where that came from. Well, I know where it come from, but nah never. I think…what else they say up there, something about Missy and Timbaland. Only thing me and them got in common is we from Virginia.
Parlé Mag: Talk to me about ‘The Thirst’, your book project.
Quan: I actually want to write like a three book series; one called ‘The Thirst’, one called ‘The Frost’ and probably one called ‘The Fire’. But ‘The Thirst’, starting with that, basically it’s different angles of my autobiography, put it that way. You know, places and things have been changed to protect the guilty, as well as the innocent. I mean, but ‘The Thirst’, I called it that because you can live close to a month without food, but 72 hours without liquids you outta here! So ‘The Thirst’, that explains to you what kind of appetite I had when running around in these streets trying to achieve the American dream as a young boy from the ghetto, that didn’t know much, but thought he knew everything, you know. And it goes in depth about my life; how my father had a thirst for the finer things in life, and the things that he did to get them and how treacherous he was to get them. And how that spilled over to his sons because they, too, wanted to be like daddy. Yeah, it’s crazy.
Parlé Mag: What’s the timeline looking like for that?
Quan: Man, I don’t know. I can tell you this, maybe six to twelve months and I’ma tell you why. Again, I’m gonna do the book, I want to do a documentary – a short one – and I want to do an album or EP with it. Gotta be a trendsetter; do things different, man. I ain’t never heard of nobody doing that, so yeah.
Parlé Mag: Let’s go into your longevity, what exactly do you attribute that to?
Quan: I think good “Goosebump” music, man, that’s what I like to call it. My peoples call say I got “Gangsta Soul” music, but I think timeless music, man. You can’t deny that, especially when it comes to my core listener. My core listener is really twenty plus, because they’re starting to deal with real life situations and problems. Lil’ homies are listening to me because they can tell that I can relate to where they come from. But at the end of the day, just good music, man. That’s all, good music I think.
Parlé Mag: Would it be fair then to say that you’re happy with the current state of Hip Hop?
Quan: Yeah I am. To be honest, I am. And the fact that lyricism is coming back, I definitely am. The fact that people are appreciating bars, yeah definitely. Yeah, ’cause I’m one of the illest with bars ever, so I love it! Like I love it, you know. I listen to music for particular reasons and zones. I don’t try to lump everything into one, you might catch me listening to oldies but goodies, you might catch me listening to alternative rock’n’roll, whatever I feel, you know.
Parlé Mag: Looking ahead, what does the future hold for you, QUAN?
Quan: I see KINGZ NATION ENTERTAINMENT, I see my label as being well established; if not one of the leading independent labels. I see myself doing a lot more for film, and maybe even in film. It’s definitely a lot I plan to do, man, and definitely expanding my brand as far as a producer, a songwriter. Just definitely gonna keep working to get more and more placements for artists, as well as for television and film. And that’s why I moved to Georgia; this is the place to do it at, you know. Put the past in the past and go.
Parlé Mag: Since we discussed it earlier, do you foresee yourself doing a full-on R&B LP?Quan: Definitely! Like honestly, you’ll probably see me doing more singing than rapping. But then I might pop up out the blue and drop a Hip-Hop album that don’t have no type of melody on it at all; like just straight Hip-Hop and call it Bars & Beats. It’s about challenging yourself musically, you know, and that’s something that I would do. I would tell a story, twelve songs straight, just all kinds of concepts that go through my head and challenges as a writer, you know.
Parlé Mag: As for the immediate, what’s next for you, sir?
Quan: I’m about to start releasing singles. I got a single and a video actually, “Tainted,” which is the first official single off of my album. And then we really gonna jump into this campaign for Point Of No Return. And I don’t know, I might make that a series, I might. I don’t know, but like Volume 1, 2 and 3. I might do that, and then do a JACKIE FROZT series. See my alter ego – the singing side of me – I call that JACKIE FROZT. I got a different sound for him, it’s funny. I just like to challenge myself, man.
Parlé Mag: Any tour plans at this point in time?
Quan: Hopefully. I judge it by momentum, man, you know. I’ll tell you what, I’m definitely gonna tour the hell outta Atlanta, Virginia, Connecticut; like my primary cities, you know.
Parlé Mag: Is there anything you wanna leave our readers with?
Quan: Yeah, definitely. Holla at me on social media: @donferquan. KINGZ NATION is the Mob. Keep God first. I appreciate y’all for having me, man.
Quan’s New Single “Tainted Is Out Now”:
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