Bronx Rapper Lives On the Cutting Edge
7:00PM ET September 25th, 2012
Contributor : Malcolm Strong
A Rocky Williform Company
Hip hop was born in the Bronx, as anybody who knows anything should be able to tell you. But, for emcee Quesfire, his love for hip hop wasn't just a product of where he was born--it is the result of what was born in him as a youngster. The Boogie Down native fell in love with hip hop and immersed himself in it an early age, and has now seen the many phases and eras through which the music and culture have moved.
It's what inspired him to pick up a microphone in the first place.
"I knew music was what i wanted to do when I became a fan of hip hop," says Ques. "I was a fan of hip hop in the Golden Age; when hip hop was fun, when it was OK to dance and wear crazy clothes." And Ques listened without prejudice, becoming as devoted to pop rap as he was gritty street narratives. "It sounds a little crazy but one of my favorite artists was DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince," he shares. "I loved the fact that Will Smith wasn't afraid to have fun and joke about his parents. But I also appreciated the Kool G Raps and the Naughty By Natures who brought the grittiness. And A Tribe Called Quest."
"I think that shaped me--who i am today," he adds. "It made me not only understand where hip hop came from, but where its going."
Having an eye for what's coming next is a big part of who Ques is artistically. For him, being able to see a few steps ahead has paid off. He's won two Underground Music Awards and recently signed a distribution deal with NSUC Entertainment and eOne Distribution. Tracks like "All In" have made him one of the most buzzed-about artists in New York City's indie hip hop scene.
"What sets me apart from everybody else is the fact hat I don't just use rapping anymore to separate myself," he says matter-of-factly. "I also represent the true independent artist--who is able to be self sufficient, who is able to market himself, conduct his business and able to move a crowd, and to know how to interact with his fans and sell records at the same time."
Forward-thinking is an indelible part of Ques' journey and he believes wholeheartedly that progression is what he's been able to build his career. "Stay true to what you really love to do [and] be innovative," says the rapper. "It helped me a lot. I was one of the first artists to have an all-flash drive album. There have been artists who had a flash drive single, but i created a credit card type [that included] not only music, but music videos, my picture, my bio--all in one."
"I was one of the first artists to have an iPhone app," he adds. "Only major radio stations and companies believed in iPhone apps. I was one of the few indie artists that believed in it from the beginning."
Ques knows that being visionary and talented are important, but they aren't the only things that lead an artist to greatness. Patience is key.
"The hardest lesson I've learned is that you can be prepared, you can have all the connections in the world, but timing is key. everything is timing," he says. "The most you can do as an artist is be patient. master your craft, master your art and never stop learning. getting in the game is all timing. I've just been waiting for the right time to jump in and do what i do best."
"One of my favorite songs is a song I have called 'On My Soul,' which I released in 2006," he says. "Once, I tried to use one of those mp3 searches to see if i was anybody and that was the first song that popped up. What made that song real was I put real facts in that song and it really touched a lot of people. It wasn't just me sitting in front of a beat saying 'What am i gonna say?' For the first time, I was consciously just writing something that was real. It was so real that even now people are like 'that's one of my favorite songs.' "
But for Ques, he knows that he's given maximum effort to his career, and that's where his greatest sense of accomplishment lies.
"To know that I put everything into it--whether I become really successful in hip hop or not, or if my daughter asked me about my career and i never made it or didn't reach my goals--what made it all worthwhile was the sacrifice," he says. "And knowing that i tried and put all of my effort into it. I lost jobs. I couldn't go to school. Everything at the time was all hip hop, i woke up in the morning, I thought about writing songs. I spent my last couple of dollars on studio time. I spend 500 on an outfit to wear at a show where I was just doing one song."
"Whether you make it or not, it was all worthwhile. Because you gave it your all," he adds. "You didn't cut any corners, you didn't cheat. You gave it your all. "
Follow Quesfire at Twitter.com/quesfire
Or Check Out His Music At quesmusic.com