Qboy

August 5th, 2004

Qboy

Background info on his influences and getting started in music, views on profanity and marketing and opinions on selling points and gimmicks.

Which artists have inspired you to become a rapper?

I have a general love of music, not just hip-hop, but I would say the most influential rap artists in my life are in the order they occurred: Neneh Cherry, Ya Kid K, Salt 'N' Pepa, MC Lyte, Speech, Lil' Kim, The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, Princess Superstar.

Can you remember the first rap record you purchased?

erm, I think the 7" of Neneh Cherry's Manchild. "...you know loud's my diagnosis / 'Cause I believe in miracles and words in heavy doses"

What's the background of QBoy. When did you first start making music etc?

After I graduated from University, I started to work with MisterMaker, creator of gayhiphop.com. I became the lead journalist and promoted the site. I made a few home tracks with the guys I work with at gayhiphop.com only about 3 years ago, never with the intention of release. Although I had loved rap for over 10 years, this was the first time I was recording my own material and I was very nervous. Then I met NineBob, promoter and DJ for gay hip-hop club Pac-Man and became part of the team for that. Pac-Man and gayhiphop.com are like sister companies now. A few more tracks were made and we got a bit of publicity so quickly we threw a collective together called Q-Fam and toured gay pride festivals during summer 2003. By the end of it, obviously my confidence and skills were much improved and people in the audience wanted a CD, so I did my E.P. by using some of the old tracks I had already done and some new ones. I'm still very young in the game. People I think expect me to enter at Jay-Z level and it's just not the case, I am still learning, still growing.

Your sexuality seems to be at the forefront of any publicity on you whilst the music is left significantly in the background. Would you agree?

I would agree, yes. But I am not complaining. Unfortunately you need an angle in this world to get noticed, everybody in any artform has one, Kylie's little gold shorts, Biggie's coke dealing, Salt 'N' Pepa simply being girls in 1985 was their angle, and my sexuality is a good story for journos. I do hope to overcome this with my next album, once everybody knows who I am, the gay thing won't be important and people can focus on the music. You also have to remember, it wouldn't be an issue if hip-hop was more inclusive of gay men and women in general. I guess one of the things is I am young and wanted to express my sexuality, and there's nothing wrong with that, as I get older I will want to talk about and express other parts of me, like any artist.

Your lyrics make more references to you being gay than the lyrics of many straight rappers do about being straight. Would you say its your selling point and gimmick or an angle you're pushing?

I don't think that is true necessarily. How many raps from people like Akinyelle or Ludacris or Biggie, LL, anyone are about sex and women. Their videos are filled with the idealism of 'ho' and bitches in bikini's. Straight male rappers are extremely predominant with their sexuality, being macho and objectifying women is just that, it's just you don't notice it because it's considered the norm.

Your website titles you as 'the UK's hottest gay rapper'? Are you happy to settle with that or would you rather be considered the UK's hottest rapper, with no classification of your sexual orientation?

As before, I am happy with that for now, but I will play my sexuality down on the next album, so people can really judge the music more. I don't wish to be labelled as a gimmick and I am very aware of the possible backlash with associating myself as a 'gay rapper'. I am a very 'gay' gay man though, as in if I was a dentist, I'd be a gay dentist, or a gay fireman you know, it's in my personality. I am gay, I write about my life as a gay man, I can't write about somebody else or be somebody else. Would you ask John The White Rapper, Blak Twang or Black Rob if they should maybe not classify their race in their names?

Do you have one specific target audience and who is that? Do you feel its better not to put yourself in a box and try to increase accessibility to the max?

Erm, I kinda still don't really focus on a market, whoever wants to listen to what I'm doing can listen. I am aware of the audiences out there listening already. The gay hip-hop audiences who at the moment are maybe not very represented so it's good I'm out there making a few waves, the young girls in the pop market seem to like me too, maybe it's the copious amount of flesh I revel? Heh heh!! What you think my E.P. is called 'Even The Women Like Him' for? ;-j My single '¼ Life Crisis' is a song that can appeal to a huge audience as it is not gay-based at all and very radio friendly. It's about getting to the ages of 23, 24, 25 and reassessing life and how you deal with it, your expectancy of it. It's quite deep.

The website also says that the release of your EP was due to the 'current saturated hip-hop scene'. Could you expand on that with an example or two?

Are you not bored with MTV Base rotation shit at the moment? I DJ as well, and over the pass year I rarely find a tune in a record shop I really like or wanna play. I'm always looking in the back catalogue for 1992-1998 tunes innit!

How harmful do you feel the marketing of image and the inclusion of profanity is to the essence of hip-hop?

There's this idea that hip-hop is all precious and underground and should only be given to certain people on the street on a cassette in a brown paper bag. It's a myth. Hip-hop is pop, or at least can cover that area very well, everybody can be involved and use it, appreciate it, be a part of it and have been doing so for many years. It's the largest growing culture in the world, it can't be that and still be the same underground thing it was 20 years ago. What has happened recently is as popular culture and hip-hop culture merge, the visual elements of the pop world have been applied to the hip-hop market and artists are more aware of image and it's place in their work. That's not necessarily a bad thing if the artist is true to themselves in that image. However many artists just look the same with the same videos and same photoshoots and it's all gets very generic and boring. Profanity is up to the individual. We live in a world where people swear and talk about sex all of the time. ALL OF THE TIME. Yet we still consider these things bad? Why? Art is about the artists expressing themselves, in whatever way they feel works best for them. Fuck what other people think.

What would you say is the essence at the core of hip-hop music and culture? What aspects of it are you a part of besides from the music?

I really like to consider myself a rap artist and not strictly a hip-hop artist. I do not wish to ignore my love of hip-hop and the hip-hop culture, but my first love lies with the vocal format of rap. That aside, I obviously DJ hip-hop music at the club I co-run Pac-Man and I have always danced hip-hop/street style and very well at that, so I think I have a fair knowledge and some roots in the culture. I'm sure many people would like to think I'm just ripping it off to get some press, but I am not. I never set out to be a rapper, it just came together, writing about hip-hop for gayhiphop.com, promoting and playing hip-hop at Pac-Man, dancing to hip-hop, rapping is just a natural progression for me, I've always been a performer, so this is like my ideal job where all the things I love come into play together.

How would you summarize your back catalogue and where do you see yourself fitting into UK hip-hop? What other UK hip-hop acts do you enjoy or would like to collaborate with?

I plead my ignorance and say I really do not know much about the British hip-hop scene despite now being part of it. It is terrible and I am consciously making an effort, but I have always been inclined to like female rappers and the majority of those accessible to me are from the US.

Being partly Spanish, do you know much about the hip-hop scene over there that is worth people checking out?

None at all, my father is from the Canary Islands not mainland Spain, so I have no connection with it, and there certainly ain't a scene from the tiny island he comes from.

Who does the production of your music and what producers who you think are making good beats at the moment would you be happy to work with?

As the CD came together over a period of time and not really with any intention of release, I worked in different ways with many producers. The main producers are Wayne Latham, who is actually a UK soul act about to release his debut album and Mz. Fontaine, a lesbian rapper and singer who's new CD 'New Era' is out now. People I am wanting to work with include the London Gay Symphony Orchestra, Bjork, Tricky, Neneh Cherry and her husband Cameron McVey, Temposhark, Cheryl 'Salt' James, Princess Superstar, Princess Julia…as you will notice, my tastes are not limited in hip-hop and I really want to go all over the place with the next album.

For those that haven't heard your stuff, what topics or subject matter could they expect when pressing play?

Expect a little bit of brash sexual cocky lyrics which are really intended to make you laugh rather than offend. If you thought it was funny when Lil' Kim ridiculously managed fit the word 'uterus' into a rhyme, then you should get my sense of humour too. I hope I am able to show a stream of intelligence amongst the fun though, I have stuff to say that I feel needs saying y'know. Some of the tracks are quite raw and rap orientated, not too poppy. I definitely give out and Essex/London style vocally, as I say "While I speak of the red bus I took through Lewisham / UK rappers are riding yellow cab's and lookin foolish man / Not dissing the USA, just proud of what I've got; / James Bond, Tricky, Eastenders and Fish & Chip shops"

What are your intentions for your music career's future?

Well, as this gets bigger and bigger people keep wondering about me trying to be signed, and to be honest it's not what I am aiming for. The pressure and bullshit of a major signing is not for me, it would have to be just right you know and I don't believe anyone out there will offer it how I want it. I enjoy doing it like this, keep on making music at my pace and as long as I like doing it and as long as people wanna hear it. I'll be working on my album for the next year with the hope of it being released next summer and just take it from there. I'm really looking forward to making a great album. Musically and lyrically. I wish to experiment and work with rap in all mediums and musical styles, spoken word, classical and opera, and I definitely want to make some really good danceable tunes that I would want to spin at one of my Pac-Man nights. I think my present CD lacks that, but it's okay, it gives me somewhere to go from y'know?

Have you got anything coming up in the pipeline you'd like to plug?

QBoy's video '¼ Life Crisis' is on rotation shortly and the E.P. 'Even The Women Like Him' is available at selected HMV stores. For more info check qboy.co.uk or write to info@qboy.co.uk