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There’s very little that the Jamla clique can’t do. Under the guidance of Grammy Award-winning producer 9th Wonder, the eclectic, but balanced collective of MCs and dynamic production core, the Soul Council, have crafted their fair share of stellar projects in recent years. And on June 24, they scored another in GQ’s Rated Oakland LP.

From the moment actor Howard Beale’s legendary monologue from 1976 film Network tickles your earlobes with eerily current truth, it’s clear that the Bay Area lyricist has returned with a tightly packaged message that’s both urgent and lyrically dexterous. Within the album narrative is another tale of a wordsmith whose life was devoted to an entirely different craft. “Before the music, I was dreaming of sneaker deals,” he raps on the Nipsey Hussle-assisted “Count’em Up,” referencing his years playing basketball.

Now a part of a true steel sharpens steel label, GQ has the proverbial ball in his court. With the opposition running a box and one, Rated Oakland is a definite game winner for the home team.

Who: Born Quentin Thomas, the wordsmith we know as GQ could easily have been known for an equally marvelous talent. Bred in Oakland, he devoted much of his life to basketball and was recruited to play for coach Roy William’s University of North Carolina Tar Heels (where he played from 2004-2008). But a plaguing knee injury, a hobby, and a luck of the draw rendezvous with 9th Wonder at North Carolina Central University would forever change the trajectory of his life.

Soon after, he joined the growing Jamla family, where he’s used the skills and hard working mind state he developed throughout years running the parquet and applied it to a rap career.

Credentials: GQ’s proved himself to be a worthy addition to the Jamla family. Under the tutelage of 9th Wonder, the MC has delivered three projects under the umbrella, beginning with his 2011 Trouble Man EP. At the time he was a raw talent with some major wordplay. Those privy to GQ’s music were anxious to hear more, but it’d be a little less than two years until he’d follow up with another EP titled Death Threats & Love Notes. In between, he contributed to projects by Jamla artists, including Rapsody’s The Idea of Beautiful, and 9th Wonder’s compilations, The Wonder Years, and Jamla Is The Squad. Now GQ

Fun Fact: GQ played point guard for UNC during their 2005 NCAA Championship season (yes, the same squad as Rashad McCants). He also graduated with a degree in African American Studies in 2008.

Photo: YouTube

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