IQue The Prodigy
Few teenagers have any idea what they want to do when they grow up. Even fewer are already doing it. Atlanta native Quentin "IQue" Smith is a rare member of the latter group. At just 18, IQue is already making a name for himself as a producer, offering up beats to hip-hop mainstays. He's a graphic designer as well, giving him an edge in terms of marketing and self-promotion. While already miles ahead of his musically inclined peers, IQue still manages to balance business and school.
12:00PM ET February 9, 2010
Contributor: Mathis Bauchner
A Rocky Williform Company
Calling him mature for his age would be an understatement, but being an aspiring industry mogul hasn't stopped IQue from maintaining his love for cartoons. He counts Pixar's The Incredibles as his favorite movie, admitting that he's watched it seven times. Existing in these two worlds, seeing simultaneously through the eyes of a teenager and an accomplished businessman gives IQue a unique perspective on the future of music. With string of impressive credits to his name and a mixtape of the way, Atlanta appears to have a pair of steady hands ready to grab the torch.
Atlanta is home to a ridiculous number of hip-hop greats. What does that tradition mean to you?
There are, and have always been, a lot of hip-hop greats coming out of my hometown. It is very important to me to keep the talent unfolding and setting the standards for southern hip-hop. As odd as it seems, these icons are all regular people that can be seen out and about as they live their everyday lives. Approaching them isn't difficult, so it's always a refreshing reminder to stay humble.
Do you have any mentors or people that have been particularly supportive thus far in your music career?
My parents have been very supportive of my music both mentally and financially. I have also had a lot of guidance from family friend Jayar Browne. He specializes in branding, marketing, and radio promotion and owns One Million Sold Inc. I have traveled to many cities and have been introduced to many people through him.
How much pressure do you feel being from Atlanta with all that's been accomplished by people that came before you?
I don't feel pressured at all actually. I am calm by nature because I live by the words, 'Everything happens for a reason.' I know that if I take care of myself, the industry will take care of itself. Everything will fall into place.
What about your music do you consider unique? In other words, what separates you from all the other producers out there?
My productions are composed of unique instrumentation and one-off sounds. I have a really clean, futuristic image that I think is portrayed in everything that I do, including music. I tend to use a lot of synths in combination with traditional instruments.
Whose music do you admire and who inspires you?
Many people would reply to this question with the typical old-school pioneers, but I am actually inspired by a lot of current music. Polow Da Don is a big inspiration to me. His productions are always thought of outside the box. He uses a lot of regular patterns in irregular ways to create very distinctive music.
A lot of people dream of making music. When did you really get serious and decide that it was what you wanted to do with your life?
I skipped the whole process of dreaming. I took the action of becoming a producer around the year 2008, when the economic recession first began. I was a typical teenager that needed a good-paying summer job, but no one was hiring. That same frustration powered my motivation to do things my way. I had been making beats as a hobby for about a year at the time and figured that I could earn some money selling tracks as I looked for a job. Eventually I began making more money producing than I would've working for someone else and doing something I didn't want to do. My mind was made up by the age of seventeen.
Where do you see your career going? What are your long-term goals?
I am eighteen years old right now. I have been very fortunate to have worked on projects with artists such as Jimmy 2 Tyme and Young Dro, Tyler Perry's Ashley Nicole Morris, and K-Rab. I plan on continuing producing for large-scale artists and branding IQue Music into a very influential company. I am in the mist of creating a promotion team named 'TechnIQue' to help market our upcoming mixtape entitled 'Musiq & Lyriqs.' My long-term goals include creating a record label that will supply the music industry with creative artists and innovative ideas and investing in the corporate world.
That's a lot of ambition and foresight for an eighteen year old. What's it like being so actively involved in the industry at such a young age?
When I was seventeen, I couldn't go to any events or (legally) be out driving past 12 o' clock, so it was very hard for me to market my music. I was pretty much limited to online advertisement. Now I can venture out, but one drawback is that people that don't know my age constantly interrupt me while I'm at school. Music is important to me, but at the end of the day, I still have homework.
Paint me a picture of a day in the life of IQue. Morning to night, how does it unfold?
I usually start my day off with a little reflection time. I have to get my thoughts together before I do anything. I may play my 'Money' playlist on my iPhone to get motivated for the day. After I get washed up, cereal keeps me company as I check my emails, make a few phone calls, and head out the door. I let the top back on the convertible and meet a few customers to deliver their tracks and graphics or head to the studio. Later on that night, I'll be at a music event promoting and networking. It's rare to see me partying, but you may see me in Lenox Mall greeting fans and shopping for an upcoming appearance.