Q-Unique Interview (by Con SECT)
Q-Unique , formerly of Arsonists fame, took time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. Short and to the point, he talks about his new solo joint “Vengeance is Mine”.
How’s it going?
Everything €™s cool, just kinda bummed. Fucking Bush won. Fucking garbage.
OK, you have a new album out called “Vengeance is Mine”. Where did that title come from?
I’m attacking life with a vengeance, after going through all the bullshit that life can be unfair with, and situations that I €™ve faced unnecessarily, in and out of this fucking circus we call the music industry… now vengeance is mine.
This is your first solo recording, tell me about the process you went through in writing it…
It took a lot of soul searching and reflecting. It became therapeutic. A lot of revealing, so I had to bring my wall of defense down, and also a lot of opinion so I had to “grab my balls” and speak up. So, that €™s it, the world of Q-unique, the real Q-unique. My experiences, my opinions, my perverseness, my anger, my sick sense of humor, my passion.
Word. Who produced the record, and what kind of sound are you going for on this?
The producers are Necro, Jug Jug from the Beatnuts, Context, Phase 1, S. Groove of i3, and myself (Q-unique). I was going for a gritty sound. Edgy and at times a sound of excellence. And then sometimes, dark and emotional.
You used to be in a group called the Arsonists, tell me about your experience with them.
It was life changing. With that group, my life went from the streets to the world, but on our terms : speakin €™ on any specific experience would take up a few pages. Let €™s just say that it was one of the most important moments in my career.
Have you changed as a lyricist since your involvement? How does this record differ from the recordings you did with them?
Now, I’ve matured in my thoughts, opinions, and intentions. What €™s different is that I’m now an individual. There is no compromise with my thoughts and ideas. My rhyme style has grown, the flow patterns are much more precise, and the subject matter is serious and very revealing. Much more graphic as well, I definitely didn’t hold back on my inner thoughts.
So when you were with the group there was more of a compromise that you had to make?
Ya because you had to make sure that what you were saying was going to be co-signed by the rest of the group . You didn’t want to make anyone feel unsure or uncomfortable with your ideas so there was a voting process and discussions about subject matter. Plus the Arsonists were know for a particular way of rhyming and performing, and they were recognized for a certain kind of subject matter.
Your record is coming out on Uncle Howie, how did you hook up with Ill Bill [CEO]?
Well Bill and I worked at Fat Beats together in NY, so we became really good friends, plus our groups did a lot of shows together. To me Arsonists, Non Phixion and Company Flow spearheaded the independent movement of the mid nineties. Toward the end of the Arsonists, it was Bill who reached out to me, and said €œLet €™s do this Q solo joint €. He really believes in me.
He’s a cool guy. He has a lot of love to give.
Bill is a brother to me. It’s beyond this rap shit. My son calls him uncle Bill .
Let’s get into some background info. Where are you from?
I was born in Brooklyn, raised in the Bronx, and now I’m back in Brooklyn.
How has growing up in those areas influenced your interest in hip hop?
Well I was there when hip hop was a baby learning to walk. So I know its roots and foundation. I was raised in hip hop.
How long have you been rhyming for?
Around 17 years. Something like that.
What is your affiliation with the Rock Steady Crew, how did you hook up with them?
I am a senior member, Crazy Legs made me a member around 1989-1990…I was actually the first member to be put in the crew since it was revamped in the early 90’s.
Word… what does it take to get into a crew like Rock Steady? They must have strict requirements…
You got to have pure intentions when it comes to hip hop, and your brains have to be in the right place. Ultimately you gotta have skill with something extra. Almost like a glow… the force… but that’s all on Crazy Legs.
Are you involved in any of the other elements (i.e. writing and DJing) ?
I used to do all of it as a child growing up in the Bronx and then becoming an RSC -it becomes your world, but now I just focus on what brings me more satisfaction, rhyming and producing.
So your not dancing as much anymore?
I don’t dance I just pick up my pants and do the rock away… lean back.
How important is the live performance for you? I was fortunate enough to see you at the Middle East with Bill and you guys brought it.
Live performance is as important as a doctor doing open heart surgery… and coming out successful.
What is the difference between a rapper, and an MC?
I don €™t know dawg. The shit is a mess in the MC / rapper world. I don €™t even think about that anymore. I just do what €™s right to me. Fuck what certain people come to a conclusion with, and really I don €™t give a fuck who’s definition it is.
OK. What does it take to master the craft, at least?
To be able to move the crowd, lyrically and spiritually.
Something that’s been on my mind: Everyone seems to be capitalizing off of the idea of BEEF right now. Although beef is a part of the history, what is your take on all these conflicts that seem to be going on everywhere? (Personal note: I €™m in Boston, and there seems to be some shit going on between here and NYC… )
First, if there is any beef between NY and Boston, it €™s based on baseball. That €™s it, €˜cause I got love for Boston. Ed OG, Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, Guru…
As for Capitalizing on beef… shit… right now hip hop or rap seems to be capitalizing on everything in its path. Beef, getting shot, car accidents, like I said, its a circus.
Good point. You are surely still considered to be an underground rapper. Do you have any qualms about being in that realm after so many years of involvement in the culture, or do you enjoy the freedom of what the underground can give you, such as complete creative control without compromise?
I just consider myself an artist and an entertainer. The whole underground thing is whatever to me. I hear garbage in both the underground and commercial world, so fuck them both.
You seem bitter at the state of things…
I’m not bitter at all, I just really couldn’t give a fuck about any rapper that aint runnin with me. Why should I?
So what else are you involved with (in and out of hip hop) — anything you’d like to promote in this interview?
I €™m beginning a production team with Ill Bill called the Hit Mongers, and just looking for new talent to bring up…
What is a production team, what does starting one entail??
For me and Bill, it’s just the logic of knowing that we are not going to rap forever, but we are deeply rooted in this business and that’s the next thing on our plate. To produce. What it entails, I could tell ya, but then I’d have to kill you… Our blueprint is classified information.
Fair enough. You have a web site, tell me about that.
Q-unique.com is a way for my friends and fans to keep up on what I €™m presently doing. It’s got my tour dates, my videos, music and contact info… I €™ll be addin €™ more [content] soon.
What does the future hold for you, what are you working towards?
I want to excel in entertainment. Doing things on TV and movies, and put out a couple of more albums… go down in history as one of the greatest.
In your mind, what is hip hop?
Hip hop is a top to bottom Seen piece on the 6 train. It’s Crazy Legs explaining how he made up the back spin in the movie Style Wars. It’s KRSone battling Melle Mel, it’s Red Alert on a Saturday night, it €™s Nas’ Illmatic, it €™s Public Enemy, it €™s the Jungle Brothers. It €™s NWA, it €™s Ice Cube, it’s Q-bert, it’s a Cope 2 throw up. It €™s Bambaata teaching the streets. It €™s been a lot of these things, and now…. it’s me (actually it’s always been me).
Where will people be able to buy your record?
All over the place, the big chain stores like Tower Records, Best Buy, Virgin Mega Store, Sam Goody, and all the ma and pa stores like Fat Beats , Hip Hop Site .com, Mr. Bongos, Basement records, Sandbox Automatic.com, Stacks Vinyl, and all the rest of the best.
Shouts to the whole Uncle Howie fam, Psychological fam, Jedi Mind Tricks, my son and RSC.
Thanks again to Q-Unique for taking part, and for Con Sect for contributing the interview.