I’m good. I’m thankful to be free and clear.
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from you. What have you been up to?
I’ve been recording, enjoying my son and watching my team progress.
What’s going on with your album Until My Death?
We’re still tightening the album up. We’re trying to release it sometime this year, God willing. We’re still recording. We’re recording until we come up with the final release date.
How is the album sounding so far?
This is Ill Will! We’re not accepting anything less than the best. So if you ask me, it’s what hip-hop needs right now. That’s how my album is sounding. It’s what hip-hop really needs right now.
Virginia doesn’t have a defined sound. Looking at that, how are you balancing the different types of sounds on Until My Death?
I’m an artist. With me being an artist, I don’t have one set style. I choose what styles I want to use and what styles I want to go with. A style is nothing but how you deliver a word and the melody you use. People have their little nicknames for it, but I’m the artist. I hear the beat talk to me and I choose the style. I just make sure I’m talking about real life situations and dropping jewels so people know the goods and the bads. I don’t glamorize anything because that’s not the real world and that’s not helping anybody.
L.E.S. said he was working on the album with you. How is he helping the project?
There’s a chemistry between us. What is Ill Will without Nas, L.E.S. and Mike Brinks? It’s a team. L.E.S. knows my sound. He knows how I record. He’s been there to give me guidance and he helped me get in the industry from the beginning. That chemistry is there. You can’t get a Quan album and not hear some of L.E.S. on that album.
How is Nas involved in Until My Death?
He’s an artist himself, so if I do a record and he likes it, he’ll let me know. He pretty much gives me my own creative freedom to do what I do as an artist. I ask for his opinion and advice and he gives it to me. He’ll tell me if I should do something on a record or in a verse. He gives me his wisdom and I take it from there.
Why the title Until My Death?
Because I had to die a couple of times in order to live.
Does Atlantic believe in Until My Death?
Yeah. They paid me a lot of money to come over there. I think they have too much on their plate at this point in time to really give my project the attention and the focus that we want and need.
Will Until My Death come out in 2007?
Why does it seem like your album is taking a long time to come out?
It has nothing to do with my sound or my music. That’s that.
Do you feel you can you be successful in the rap game?
Yeah. I can be successful in 2007 or 2027. I write from my spirit. I write from my heart and my soul. As long as you do that, your music is always going to find a home as long as there’s real motherfuckers walking this earth going through the struggle and experiencing the ups and downs.
What do you have to do to get your buzz back?
With the exception of me not being on the mainstream market, my fans have the freestyles and music from me. They have two mixtapes from me and I didn’t come in the game off of mixtapes. I didn’t come in the game off of mixtapes, so I don’t feel like I have to put out fifteen mixtapes a year. But I put them out though. I’m about to put out a few. That’s where it’s at. It’s timing. It’s just timing. If you ask me, I know my buzz isn’t as hot as it was when “Just A Moment” was at its peak, but everywhere I go and every show I do, I bring a good crowd in the building and I get a beautiful response. I got 8,000 plays on MySpace today so far.
What do you want to give fans with your first single?
I’m not sure. It depends on the timing. Who knows? I have hundreds of songs.
You’ve only rocked freestyle beats for the most part up to now. Why is that?
So when my single drops, nobody gets it confused. You’re going to know you’re getting a Quan record when it drops.
Do you feel original beats would throw fans off?
Definitely. If I snatch records from niggas who have hot records, you’re going to hear that beat and listen. Plus it’s a challenge. If you’re getting on somebody else’s beat, you have to make it your own. I like to grab beats that I wished were mine and flip it. Sometimes I like to hear how a nigga flipped it and try to do it better. I’m not going to stop until I feel it’s better and I’m my own worst critic. I want niggas to say I killed a beat better than the first nigga who did it.
Picture me hopping on an artist’s beat and not trying to do what they did to the beat or more. That’s a challenge. And at the same time, people know it’s a freestyle and they don’t get it confused because they know who the track belonged to. At the same time, if you hear a beat and some shit that you never heard before, you know that’s Quan. You’re getting the essence of me.
You first had the beat that ended up being Hot Rod’s single “Be Easy”. What’s the story behind that?
That happened to me a few times. There’s a beat on Jeezy’s album that I had before he did, but it’s politics. It’s all about who’s buying the beat first. That’s it. Being that I’m at the stage I’m in with my album and he’s about to release his shit and he pays for the beat, he’s going to get the beat. That’s what happened with the Hot Rod situation. I had the track and I did the record. Then in the midst of trying to make things pop with the label and so on and so forth, Hot Rod came out with that as a single. It just happened. I was kind of hot about it but there wasn’t shit I could do. Producers are trying to get money and I’m going to put it out on my next mixtape coming out in a couple of weeks.
Heron’s song “Too Much” that you were featured on didn’t do too well on HipHopGame. Does that bother you?
That’s my man’s record. I came in and laid the verse. He’s like a little brother to me and he wanted to put it out. It’s cool. I’m not tripping.
Were you disappointed you weren’t on Nas’ Hip-Hop Is Dead?
That’s my nigga. First and foremost, he’s an artist and I’m an artist. We recorded records but they didn’t fit. None of the records fit for the direction the album was taking. So at the end of the day, I wasn’t on there. I’m not mad. My nigga had a big week and he has a hot album. Everything’s good. If he’s winning, I’m winning.
You were arrested about a year ago for felony assault and the police confiscated $19,000. Can you talk about that situation today?
I beat all the cases. They had to throw them out for lack of evidence.
Did you see that happening?
All I can say is they took all the money and they let me go. Do the math.
Are you more careful today with who you associate with?
Only a fool walks around constantly making mistakes and not learning from them, and I’m far from a fool. It’s a learning experience and you have to watch your surroundings and who’s around you. It was just an unfortunate set of circumstances. God brought me through it and I’m happy. Let’s make some good music and I have a classic album coming.
How has being a father changed you?
It’s never the same ol’ with me because I strive to make my today’s better than my yesterday’s and my today years better than my yesteryears. But with my son and being a father, all I know is my son don’t give a damn about nothing. He doesn’t care about this rap shit or if I coulda, shoulda, woulda...None of that shit. All he knows is he needs food, clothing and shelter and I have to provide those things for him and for myself. It tightened me up a lot more and made me look at tomorrow more than I used to because I’m responsible for another life. That’s a hell of a responsibility. That’s a responsibility that I honor and that I’m thankful for. I’m going to carry the responsibility out to the best of my ability.
What’s going on with Kingz Nation today?
You know that’s bigger than hip-hop. That’s not just about rap shit right there. If I never got a record deal, Kingz Nation would still be there. Kingz Nation is Kingz Nation. It’s a brotherhood. It’s a family. It’s a movement. When I’m dead, Kingz Nation will still be there.
What did you think of MTV’s portrayal of VA on My Block?
I thought it was a good look. It’s my ‘hood and I love to see my ‘hood on TV. VA is all of that and so much more. We’ve influenced the sound of music for the past ten, fifteen years. Virginia deserves to have an Atlantic Records or Universal Records in my ‘hood. We need that. We need as much of that as possible so people can dream and be ambitious. We don’t have that and that’s why there’s so much crazy shit going on out here. That’s why the youth is suffering, because there’s nothing out there for them. That’s where cats like me, Pharrell and other people come in and try to bring stuff out here. VA deserves that and so much more.
Since “Just A Moment” dropped, have you noticed a change in the hip-hop scene in Bad News?
There is assloads of talent in Virginia. I was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I’m the first solo artist to get a major deal and mainstream exposure from Bridgeport, Connecticut. I’m the first artist out of Newport News to be blessed with mainstream exposure and finding a mainstream deal. That goes for a lot of cities that’s around Newport News and Bridgeport. What that did for people out my way is that let them kids know that dreams come true. That made that little boy dribble that basketball a little more and it made the next boy write rhymes that much more because if somebody like me can do it, they know dreams come true. I think for those that can see the little that I’ve done so far, they know they can do it. The problem is when niggas “make it,” you never see them in the ‘hood anymore and that’s out of whack. A child can’t relate to a doctor with a suit on. He’ll listen to the dude who’s dressed the same way he is but he’s pushing the same car the doctor’s pushing because he can identify with him when most of the people he sees are drug dealers. He can’t identify with someone in a suit.
Do you see yourself as a role model?
Yeah. I love the kids, but at the same time, I have niggas I’ve known my whole life and I don’t want them going to the penitentiary. I don’t want them taking those chances and going through that. I love the kids and anyway that I can be an influence on somebody else for a good reason, I’m all for that, especially after all the fucked up shit I’ve done in the past. I’m all for that and I’m also for trying to get in a position to get this money to set up programs for single mothers and at-risk youth and to help my family and friends get better. I want my friends to obtain positions of power instead of doing the same shit they’ve been doing since they were kids. I want to know that when my grandma’s sick, I can get her the best doctor possible and keep my friends out of the penitentiaries. I want to help my female cousins realize they don’t have to fuck with a dopeboy to get what they want. At the end of the day, I’m nothing without God. I have a purpose to fulfill. We can talk party, bullshit, guns and coke and say fly shit all day, but at the end of the day, I’m nothing without God and I have a purpose to fulfill. Whatever it is, it’s going to manifest itself to me. I know what I have to do. I just want to make beautiful music along the way. It’s much bigger than hip-hop.
How does your spirituality affect your music?
It forces me to have a balance. You have to have a balance. Just because I have a good relationship with God and I speak on God, I’m far from an angel. It’s about having a balance because I have my good ways and I have my bad ways. I might wake up one day and write a rhyme because I’m feeling good and I might wake up the next day and be pissed off. That’s what it is. If a beat hits me and it inspires me to speak on an episode or a chapter from my life, then that’s what you’re going to get. If I’m going to talk to you about something from the street, I’m going to talk to you in the manner that I was feeling at that time.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how I’m carrying myself today, but it’s still a part of me. It’s about having a balance of good and bad. It’s about saying something at the end of the day instead of having an album that’s ignorant and stupid and not saying anything. Motherfuckers are going to cop my album and get the answers they were looking for in life. They’re going to put songs on that spark some ambition in them to get up off their ass and go do some shit. Everything that I am, I put in my music. If fans sit back and analyze my music, they will understand who Quan is. I’m brutally honest. I speak the truth. However it comes out is how it comes out. You can hate it or love it, keep it or leave it.
What’s your plan for the next couple of months?
Mixtapes. We have some mixtapes coming and a DVD coming. My single is also coming. We haven’t picked the single yet.
What do you want to say to everybody?
A person isn’t measured by their intentions. They’re measured by their deeds and their actions alone. At the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding. My actions are going to speak louder than any words or intentions. When it’s all said and done, the underdog is going to be on top. Kingz Nation is the squad and Ill Will is the movement. That’s what it is and that’s what it’s going to be, love it or hate it, keep it or leave it.