by Nadine Graham
You think you know Rich Homie Quan. You've heard a track or two, now you think he's Future or Cash Out revamped, right? Here's the thing: the 23-year-old rapper is not Future. He's not Cash Out either, although the East Atlanta native grew up just a couple of highway exits away from both artists.
“My perspective on that is: Every artist is compared to someone despite whether you want that to be the case or not,” Quan tells Hip-Hop Wired. The TIG signee doesn't use AutoTune -- the tone fans hear on ‘'Differences” or his breakout hit “Type of Way” is actually his natural voice. Recently, the rapper proved it by breaking out in song mid-interview. Seriously. The comparisons to a couple of fellow Atlantans may seem accurate after a first listen, but there are some distinctions that should be noted. At TIG's official studio just beyond the Atlanta skyline, Quan set out to share the most telling difference -- his rhymes simply aren't the same.
“I was in my jail cell critiquing my craft every night. I knew I was getting better so I just started rapping in jail." But then it's not enough to just make that statement -- maybe some background info would help. His upbringing was solidified by the presence of a doting mother and father who the young artist credits every few moments during our talk. “They still look at me like ‘Baby Quan,'” he shares, smiling, “They always just tell me to remain humble and thank God everyday. That's really how my mom is. I talk to my mom and my father everyday. We're very close.” In fact, Quan's parents accompanied him on a recent press run all over New York City from Sirius Satellite Radio to Power 105.
From ages four to 18 the Still Goin' In creator, played baseball. His plan was to make it to the majors -- young Quan was the quintessential All-American kid -- outside of a short stint served in Fulton County jail for burglary back in 2009. The 19-year-old sat in a cell under 21-hour lockdown for 15 months, so yeah, Major League Baseball dreams were a wrap, but the “Type of Way” creator drafted a long-term plan while in solitude. “It was really a conversation I had with myself,” he says matter-of-factly. “What is it? Process of elimination? So I was tryna think of everything I was good at. I never thought I was good at rap but I knew I could rap a little bit.
“I was in my jail cell critiquing my craft every night. I knew I was getting better so I just started rapping in jail. I knew these people were getting crunk. I used to always tell myself, ‘If I can get these people to get crunk with me',” he trails off thoughtfully, “‘I know I can go home and get a couple of these girls and some dudes to get crunk with me.' That's what my perspective was. I came home and went to the studio.”
"Outta me, Future and Cash Out, we talk about different things. I can't help how I sound, but I can control what I talk about."Just imagine how disappointed his hard-working parents must've been to know that their baby boy landed himself in jail while dealing in the wrong social circles. But here we are, less than five years later and Rich Homie Quan's name is on lips across the Hip-Hop nation. Even if the hook that has most people initially intrigued is the fact that indeed Quan reminds you of someone you've heard before. “The two artists I'm compared to are both from Atlanta so it could be a lingo thing,” he says with a shrug, “But then I look at it like... I stay away from AutoTune. My voice, this is the same way I sound on my songs. I don't need it.
“It comes down to the content. What are we talking about?” He leans forward in his chair, then, “Outta me, Future and Cash Out, we talk about different things. I can't help how I sound, but I can control what I talk about. So if I just keep my content on a whole ‘nother level, I can't help what people say. I know none of their stories are like mine. So I just tell it like it is.”
It wasn't an easy grind by far, especially with certain people stewing in resentment. Without naming names, Quan divulges that everyone didn't have faith in his movement initially. “People didn't really believe at first. Atlanta's a city now, where everyone wants to [rap]. When I was growing up, I wanted to play baseball, kids these days wanna rap. Girls wanna dance.”
Still, how easy can it be to provide a follow-up single, matching the hype of “Type of Way”? Quan isn't the least bit worried. “I'll never run outta stuff to talk about,” he says confidently, chuckling, “Stuff happens everyday in my life. Before it's over with, they gon' know who Quan is.”
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