Q-Unique Q-Unique, former frontman of the hiphop group Arsonist, has a story to tell. His first solo debut “Vengeance is Mine” shows the many creative sides of this versatile MC. Check out Q as he talks about his #1 Billboard hit, the Rock Steady Crew, and much more.
Interview by Rob Schwartz
WHO?MAG: After being in a few groups, you are about to release you first solo album. Tell me about The Vengeance is Mine? Q-Unique: “The Vengeance is Mine” to me is a very personal album. What I did through the advice of my friends Ill Bill is expose the real Q-Unique, the things that have happened and the things that I experienced. The reason why I call it “The Vengeance is Mine” is because I’m attacking this hip-hop and entertainment shit with vengeance for all the times I’ve been hated on for racism or when people were blocking the path when I’m trying to go up. I’m just coming and I’m going to get mine no matter what. At the same time, I’m telling people that want to know and have been watching me for such a long time, now here the real story. It’s not about punchlines and clubs. I’m going to tell you a story and that’s how it came through.
WHO?MAG: Every true hip-hop fan knows about the Rock Steady Crew. Can you tell us about your affiliation with them? Q-Unique: I am a child of the Rock Steady Crew. I was born in hip-hop and then I was adopted. They became my adopted parents. They took me under their wings and nurtured and school me with the true ways and essence of hip-hop. I am a senior member of Rock Steady. A lot of people don’t know that I’ve been a member of the Rock Steady Crew for over 15 years and it’s not as a dancer. It’s as a MC, a brother, and as a person to uplift hip-hop in his own way. I have my own way of doing it. I’m not out there with a flag waving it out there like that, that’s not my style. I do it through being as skillful as possible and schooling people who have questions. I was the first member put down when they got revamped.
WHO?MAG: When did you first realize that music is something that you wanted to make a career out of? Q-Unique: Despite the chaos in my house, both of my parents were musicians. I was always surrounded by music. When guest would come to the house, I would always put on a show since I was never a shy kid. When I got older and I finally found hip-hop, it just connected with me. I always thought of hip-hop as a soul that possessed me. I heard and I saw it and it just dragged me right in. It first was for funny reasons because I wanted to be famous on my block and get all the girls. I thought if I could rap or break at that time, that was the shit. As it progressed, it became more of a skill and wanting to be on top of my shit.
WHO?MAG: You had a number 1 Billboard hit a few years back with C&C Music Factory. Tell me about your experience with them? Q-Unique: Here’s the deal, the VH-1 behind the music on that. The way it happened was I just got down with Rock Steady about 3 years before that. Crazy Legs was the first person in my life to see the potential that I had. He was taking me around to open mic’s. It was him, it was all him. He brought me on with Busta Rhymes when no one knew who I was and I was rhyming with Leaders of the New School and Brand Nubians. I had moments like that because of him. He got me my first record deal. Nobody knows but the first record deal I had was on Celluid Records which also had D.S.T and African Bambaataa. Then he just kept looking for me based on his own pure brotherhood. One day I was leaving my job and he came to my work. He had this kid that was down with him and he was like “Yo, this is my man Q. Kick a rhyme for this kid”. So I started rhyming and the kid was like “Yo, you know C&C is looking for people” and I was like, “Oh really? I’m not trying to be an asshole, but that’s not the type of music that I do, it’s not something I am interested in.” Then they both started looking at me like I was a martian. They looked at me like, “Huh? Multimillion dollar C&C?” So I ignored it. So only my life turns out like this. I got Africa Bambaataa and Crazy Legs on the phone yelling at me like “Yo, what the fuck you talking about you ain’t going to take that, you crazy?” Bam was like, “Yo, they do electronic music just like I do” and I was like, “No Bam, it ain’t the same. You did Planet Rock and those niggas ain’t doing that kind of shit, you wildin’.” He’s like “music is music,” and then they said “What are you doing now that’s stopping you from doing something you want to do which is music?” I had no answer for them. So upon their advice, I took it. But the whole deal was because that dude Freedom broke out and they had a contract for that movie. They were like, “If you fulfill this contract for us, we will put out two of your demo’s,” which was underground shit. I was like “cool.” So when I went there, he said “You’re just the type I was looking for. I want you to do street rap.” When I first recorded the record, it was very street. He told me I was bugging and I have to do it radio. So they started giving me rhymes to say. It was very tailored made, but I did it. I can’t lie, I got paid. I spent that money like it came. When it came time for them to hook me up, it became a nightmare. It was probably the toughest situation for me, but it was my first learning experience on not to be na? and to understand that every individual has their own path on what they want to do. So it wasn’t like I was down with them. I was hired to do something and it didn’t work out, period. Amongst all that chaos, it was a number 1 record on Billboard which is ill, you know what I’m saying?