Certified Fresh: GQ – Tales Of Jamla’s Oakland Connect
HHW: How did creating Rated Oakland help your development as an artist?
GQ: It’s been a learning process. With every project I can see the growth as an artist in myself. I constantly try to better myself and challenge myself as an artist; I never try to get content. Even with Rated Oakland just being released, I’m still constantly recording and writing. I always want to be the best artist I can be and constantly improve.
HHW: You spent much of your life devoted to basketball and made a major switch to Hip-Hop. What are the parallels between the two?
GQ: It’s very comparable. I always say work ethic, because that says a lot. And being able to just go to the studio, and not have to be begged to go to the studio or having someone have to beg you to work. If someone has to beg you to do anything, it’s pretty much not a passion of yours.
Being passionate about the craft and on time, too. I just hate being late for stuff. And what helps me most – especially being a part of Jamla – is understanding your role in doing what’s best for not only you, but the team as a whole. I know people on the outside look at Jamla as a whole and say they’re very supportive of one another. But a lot of us played sports, so it carried over.
HHW: What are your thoughts on your former teammate, Rashad McCants’ claim that UNC let him cheat through college?
GQ: It’s just sad that someone that you’ve spent time with, sweat, tears, and all that during the time that we played at UNC together…. But everyone’s situation wasn’t like that at all. I remember having to be in the library for two or three nights my junior or senior year. I remember Sean May had a 25-page paper due the year we won.
It’s just sad that somebody would come out with that type of information I guess you can say, especially for it to be 10 years after you left the school. It’s like what are you trying to get out of it? Me personally, I don’t really trip off of it, because I know what UNC stands for as a whole, as a university, and as a basketball program. A lot of great people – not just basketball players – but a lot of great men have come through that program and have done great things after basketball. It’s unfortunate that someone would try to stoop to that level, especially it being a person that you played with and you went through certain things with as a teammate. But you live and you learn. True colors show at times, but I don’t have any hard feelings for him. I wish him the best in life.
HHW: Since rapping was only a hobby for you at one point, how easy was it adapt to formal songwriting?
GQ: For me, it was all fun. I used to rap in high school and in middle school I would write raps when I was supposed to be doing work. When I got to college, I would just freestyle when I was on the bus and spit raps that I wrote at home after practice. It was just fun.
A lot of people knew at the age of 7 or 8 or 9, they knew that they wanted to do music. I didn’t have that feeling until probably two years ago honestly. So when it came to getting around 9th and writing songs and doing that, it was a process, so I had to learn. The thing that helped me was having a God-given talent, but having somebody like a 9th and seeing someone like Rapsody, Remo and those types of people, you’re driven. I used to see Rap write three and four raps for one song or for one verse, and still wouldn’t use any of those raps. I’ve seen her work ethic since day one. I can’t come around these people and not work hard when I see them work hard everyday.
HHW: Hailing from Oakland, who were your favorite rappers from the Bay Area growing up?
GQ: Too $hort; heard a lot of E-40 of course, The Luniz, Richie Rich and Tupac of course. I grew up on all that, but I listen to a lot of music though. I’m a big fan of Outkast, the Snoops, the Biggies, Eminem, Nas, the list can go on. I just like music man, and especially lyrical artist. I think that’s why my music comes out the way it does. A lot of people say, “You’re dope with the wordplay.” I love lyricists, so regardless of where you’re from, old or new, I enjoy good music.
HHW: How is to be a part of steel sharpens steel atmosphere that is Jamla Records?
GQ: I always tell me nothing more, nothing less that it’s just a blessing. Especially for me, because I never thought about doing music or being a rapper. For 9th [Wonder] to even think of putting something together the way he did is magic. To have a group of different artists from all different walks of life come together under one roof and be able to make music together [is amazing]. And then you have The Soul Council, an incredibly talented group of producers.
I’m very proud of Jamla. We definitely are striving after the best for each other and ourselves.
HHW: Now that the project’s out, what’s next for GQ?
GQ: It it was up to me, I’d like to put a another project out before the end of the year. But I know Jamla has a lot of stuff coming out — HaLo is next, Add-2’s putting something out before the year’s up, and Rapsody’s returning before the year is up. Expect more visuals, more features, and shows. I just want to keep working and keep trying to get my name out there.