Imagine it's 2013 and you're an aspiring rapper trying to tread water in a tough music industry with a follow-up record. In one of many late night recording sessions with fear fueling your ambition, you hear that catchy beat drop through the speakers, and a rush of excitement overcomes you when you confidently spit the first lines "OG Bobby Johnson." Thirty minutes later, you're no longer a one-hit-wonder, and your life changes forever.
Rapper Que faced some troubles in the past: smoking weed, selling drugs and losing jobs and schooling opportunities. The fresh new artist had enough of the downs and wanted nothing but ups in the future. While admitting his mother had played a major role in his final decision to turn his life around, ultimately the rapper ventured into music to fulfill his creative impulses and dropped two of his biggest records "Young N---a" and "OG Bobby Johnson."
With two hits in such a short time, it would appear Que has reached his peak, but you can expect even more new hits off his Can You Digg It? mixtape. With big collaborations with artists such as August Alsina, Rico Love, Trey Songz, 2 Chainz and DJ Mustard, to name a few, Que is expected to leave his imprint heading into the new year.
Music Times: Can you tell me how you came up with your final tracklist for the Can You Digg It? mixtape, and how did you get a lot of big names on there?
Que: As far as the track list goes, I just basically, just ran in through my team, like I always do with every decision made. I just ran it through them and came up with the tracklist and basically figured out what they thought was best. They probably came up with it, long story short, just through the team, and as far as the big names go, everyone is on the table, people I've been rocking with, people that I have friendships with. People that I text or call on a daily basis or whenever I need.
MT: Comparing the Who Is Que mixtape to your mixtape now, do you think you've changed as an artist?
Q: That's a good question. I mean, of course in ways of coming up with more creative concepts and songs and more mature as an artist, yeah. The EP was really just songs that were already out, it was just put into one place, so everyone could find it, but the tape, is a lot of new songs that I came up with overtime.
MT: There are artists like Eminem who said that he always felt pressure to top his first hit. Do you feel pressure for trying to top "OG Bobby Johnson"?
Q: Sometimes, but not really. Not really because at the end of the day I always keep the mindset and remember how I came up with "Bobby Johnson." I didn't pressure myself to come up with "Bobby Johnson" — I just went in to have fun with it. So I try to do the same with all my songs. Every time I'm in the studio, I just try to have fun with it because you never know what's going to be a hit anyway. So the best thing you can do is to really just have fun with it and if you don't like what you came up with you can always delete it and try again, do something else. So the question of that is 80 percent no and 20 percent yes.
MT: You seem to draw a lot of inspiration from movies in your music. "OG Bobby Johnson" had that South Central take on it, and at the end of your "Youth" music video, you draw similar scenes from the movie Juice. What type of message are you trying to get across through your visuals and your music?
Q: I mean the "Youth," that was of course, it was self-explanatory. It was just me letting people know our youth nowadays is much more crazier, and basically confused. I didn't want to preach to them because I know how that is. I'm still part of the youth, and I don't like nobody preaching to me, so it's kinda slick like me trying to get a message across, but at the same time, in a way to complement the ear of the youth.
MT: So your single "Rich Problems" with 2Chainz, that's my favorite, and it seems to be fans' favorite, too. How did you come up with getting him on the track and coming up with that concept? Is it a personal experience, since that you've blown up?
Q: [Laughs] Yeah, some of the lyrics in there, yeah, they are. A lot of the lyrics are personal experiences, a little more exaggerated, but for the most part they are. And as far as getting him on the feature, it's just a relationship. 2Chainz was one of the first people to reach out to me when I first started, when my buzz first started. And as far as coming up with it, I was in L.A., as a matter of fact, when I did that. I was in the studio with [DJ] Mustard, and he just left a folder full of beats for me, and left the studio, and I just went it on all of them.
I put hooks on all of them, it started off as a hook. I had something else for it, too, now that we're getting in depth with it. I forgot what I was saying at first, but I started mumbling something else and I came up with "Rich Problems." I listened back to the hook, and it said 2Chainz all over it, so I sent it to him, he did his verse, had it back in a couple days. I did my verse, it's that easy.
MT: Yeah, it's very catchy. I find myself singing out of nowhere. I like it.
Q: Yeah, it's a club song. When you drunk in the club, no matter if you have a dollar in your pocket, there's always someone to feel like they've got rich problems or they got money. So like everyone can relate to it in a way.
MT: So you said he reached out to you in the beginning. What kind of advice did he give you?
Q: Basically just told me to keep going, he liked the music, to keep it up, keep going, and don't let up.
MT: So you lied to your mom about selling drugs and you were in and out of school. You said that you were going to make something of yourself, you were going to be something. Do you think you're finally something now?
Q: No, I got a long way to go. We got a long way to go. It's a step towards where I'm trying to going, but as far as me feeling like I'm there now, no, I'm not there at all. We're nowhere near close, but I mean, I've definitely progressed and definitely put a smile on her face because she's seen it all pay off to this day. Me and my mom are much closer than we were then, and that's just because we were bumping heads on the school thing. She didn't want me doing the music because she felt like it was saturating. It was something I had just started. I don't want to say she didn't really believe in me, but she knew it was something that I had just started, so she felt like, "Man, look, you just started rapping, such and such."
I just stopped going to school cold turkey and started rapping, so she kind of thought it was a bad idea, but I mean, it was something in me. I just knew. I had a feeling. I didn't know when it was going to happen, I didn't know how it was going to happen, I didn't know where it was going to happen, but I knew it was going to happen. You can have the whole world against you, but if you just have that feeling, like, 'Look, man, I'm just going to do this, and I know regardless of what the rest of the world say, I know it's going to happen' — that's the feeling I had. And every day to this day, she's just jolly go happy now.
MT: If you don't think you're something yet, what is your definition of becoming something?
Q: That's a good question. I mean, I'm only two hits in, so let me see. Let me get like 15 seconds to think about that, that's a good question ... I mean my definition I guess would be me having a longer résumé, more speaking points, more awards. Me getting awards and me having a family, and actually I take care of my family now and I'm doing that now, but meaning like ... that's a good question, that's a great question.
I just know I haven't made it yet. I don't know what that means, people say that all the time, actually, "you made it." Made what?
MT: Is it another gut feeling?
Q: Yeah, it's another gut feeling. Those gut feelings, you can't explain gut feelings. They're just in your gut.
MT: So after receiving your first big check, what was the first thing you purchased?
Q: An apartment, actually, and then a gift for my mother.
MT: What kind of apartment was it? Was it a studio, one bedroom?
Q: It was a one-bedroom apartment, so I got that, and I bought my mama a $3,000 treadmill.
MT: Oh, wow, why a treadmill?
Q: I mean, because I always overhear her talking about how she needs to work out, and how she wish she had this in the basement. This and that. So I just surprised her with it.
MT: So what does your day-to-day life look like?
Q: My day-to-day life consists of me in group texts, laughing and joking with Rico and Two-a-Day. Me in the studio, if I'm not at the label studio then I'm downstairs in my basement at the studio, just trying to come up with something, trying to do something. The mood is not there every day, so, but I still try to get in the studio and try to lay some type of idea down, something. That's the idea of regular reality.
MT: On "Too Much," you talk about the criticism you received from women you were in relationships with, who said you had changed. Do you think you really changed as a person?
Q: I haven't changed, but my schedule and the way I have to manage my time have changed. And that was one of the reasons why one of the females was saying that I was acting different. Because I didn't have time just sitting around and go out and do stuff. I mean, it was two women, but it's only one now, so.
MT: Well, how do you deal with the groupie love, then? Because it's always going to be more.
Q: I don't pay it no mind. Not to be funny, I mean I been had women for the long, so there's nothing, I don't really get too side-tracked on it because you end up losing a lot of money and time. Time you can't [get] back, you can get the money back, but you can't get the time back.