Hip-Hop Wired: How does it feel now that the world has received your latest project?
GQ: It’s a good feeling to have the project out for one. I dropped Death Threats & Love Notes last year in March. Since then, I’ve been recording – a few shows here and there – but recording, recording, and writing. To put all of that out, it’s been a great feeling. So far I’ve seen positive feedback.
HHW: How was the vibe in the studio while creating Rated Oakland?
GQ: Going into it, it was just a feeling. As far as the recording sessions, the studio sessions and writing, it was just a feeling that I wanted it to have. Most of the time when I go to the studio, I never have a plan or an agenda, so to speak. I really go off of feeling, and if I’m working with the Soul Council or whomever as far as beats, I just let the beat take me wherever.
As far as Rated Oakland, honestly 9th [Wonder] had thought of the title of the project. He was just like, ‘What do you think of this title?’ And I was like, ‘I love it.’ For me, what really stood out wasn’t the fact that it was titled after Oakland. It just felt like a beginning for me, and what better [way] to start talking about the beginning than be at home?
It’s basically just feeling and emotions, whether it be from experiences growing up, other people’s experiences and things I’ve seen – not even just in Oakland, in life in general.
HHW: Whose decision was it to kick off things with the clips from Network?
GQ: I have a good friend of mine that I grew up with. He’s always watching documentaries and old movies. He came across the movie and that quote itself, and he emailed to me one day.
The first day I saw the quote, it spoke volumes to me. Especially being from where I’m from. For that movie to come out in 1976, and for it to have that much more of an impact still today, it says a lot. I got that email probably some time last year. When we were putting the project together, I asked 9th if it’d be cool to put this quote here or use it some way – it wasn’t even necessarily for the intro. It just came together perfectly, and I think it sets the tone for the project as a whole.
HHW: What are three things you’d like listeners to get from listening to this LP?
GQ: Hopefully, I always want me music to be an extension of me. I want people to listen to my music and feel that they know me a little bit, even if you’ve never met me a day in your life. You can listen to my music and feel that you know a little part of me.
Second thing, I just love for people to be able to play my music in all walks of life. If you wake up and you’re having a rough day, you can throw my music on. If you’re having a great day, you can throw my music on. If you want to ride around and think or smoke to it or what [you can throw my music on]. And third, I just want people to enjoy listening to the music and vibing to it.
HHW: On “Nice Guy” you spit an interesting line that goes, “Working with a legend while seeing others becoming one.” Could you elaborate on that?
GQ: Funny you brought that line up, because the few people who catch it – whether close friends or strangers – they’ll ask me how that line came about. For me, when I write lines, I like to have more than one meaning. For that one, it was of course having 9th there, who not only I consider, but a lot of the world in general considers a legendary producer and person in general.
Everyday, we’re working with this person, and like you said, being blessed to be with this person, you’re also gonna come in contact with other people and other legends. But then we get so caught up in it, and especially myself, I take the time to take a step back and look around me. You have people like a Rapsody – and I might be biased, but in my eyes she’s already a legend because of the work ethic she has. She’s still gonna do a lot more, but I see her as a legend. Everybody on Jamla has the work ethic to be a legend in my eyes.
I just tied that line into working with a legend while seeing peers becoming one. I always ask people, ‘Do you think it was somebody who just knew that when Jay Z was 16, 17, that he’d go on to make music on this level?’