Rich Homie Quan Talks New Album 'Rich as in Spirit,' Why the Money Phone Is His Trophy & Retiring From Rap at 35

Keith Major
Rich Homie Quan

"I go through pain every day, but it ain’t the pain of how it used to be growing up," says Rich Homie Quan as he stares contemplatively at his gaudy watch. Despite being a precocious songwriter, who deftly crafted several hits including "Some Type of Way," "Walk Thru" and the 2014 summer scorcher "Lifestyle" with Young Thug, RHQ nearly watched his career wither into oblivion because of poor choices and, quite frankly, bad luck. 

From the Biggie tribute snafu at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors in 2016, to his felony drug possession charge, to his publicized skirmish with Young Thug, Quan has always found himself embroiled in muddy situations. Though he always had an answer for his errant mistakes, many pondered if he would be able to claw his way back to rap prominence. After being courted by a bevy of labels, including Epic Records and Atlantic Records, Quan opted to go for the less rap-centric label, Motown Records, in hopes of rejuvenating his career. "I could tell we was gonna work together. I ain’t gonna work for them, they ain’t gonna work for me, we was gonna work together," Quan says of his signing. 

In addition to his signing, Quan shaved off his boisterous Afro and now sports a clean low-cut. Don't fret: Despite his hairstyle change, Quan's unmatched work ethic and superior hook abilities still are staples in his career. With his debut album Rich as in Spirit slated to drop Friday, Quan is ready to place the rap game in the cobra clutch and regain his status as one of the South's most esteemed rappers. Check out our interview below. 

Talk to me -- this haircut, man. Does it mean that you decided to reset your life? Change things up?

I wouldn’t even say that. It was just a haircut, man. Wash off my old sins 'cause we sin a lot. I ain’t doing nothing different and I ain’t never did. Sometimes, you think the hair might be a distraction; it wasn’t no crisis change. I just wanted a cleaner look again. Everybody the same for one, so it was all about just being original, just being myself.

Do you ever think about growing the hair back?

I like the compliments I get with the haircut, like from all the girls. It’s something I wanted to do, not something I discussed with nobody.

I actually got to listen to a little bit of the Rich As in Spirit album. On the first track “From Me to You,” you had a line -

I told you that’s my favorite song off the whole thing?

Nah, but you had a line that caught me. You said, “I can’t change the person I am, I can change the way that I’ve lived.”

I can’t change the person I am, but I can change the way I’ve lived. Basically like, I’ve been instilled as a child to know right from wrong, but everybody still makes mistakes. It’s basically like I can’t change nothing I do, I can just work on myself. Like, if I work on myself, I don’t have to put myself in trouble’s way. I can’t stop myself from getting out of trouble, but I can stop myself from putting myself in trouble’s way. You see what I’m saying? It’s one of those situations like that. I’m glad, like you said, “From Me to You.” That’s my shit. I like the off-beat, like it just sounds like it’s wrong.

 

#ChachiFunFacts The pic is from the first “Walk Thru” video shoot. Real shit, if you go back and watch the Walk Thru video, I have a afro in some scenes and a fade in others. We ended up shooting two different videos because at the first shoot @richhomiequan collapsed from dehydration! I was scared as shit for bro. It was like a 102 degrees in ATL. He had been moving like crazy, fresh off the jet from the freshman cover. Said he Hadn’t slept in three days. GRIDIN. On me, we had been shooting for a couple hours straight, then the director yelled cut, so I went to grab some chicken. I came back and bro was on the ground looking lifeless. For like 30 seconds, Quan wasn’t here!! It was like a mad house. People screaming, security grabbing cameras, crazy. Eventually, Quan came to and we ended the 1st shoot. I reshot my scenes in LA. Almost 2x platinum later, we are both still here and very alive. Thank u for your time. #ChachiFunFacts #FilaDownBeforeTheFad

A post shared by Chachi (@problem354) on

Problem  posted a picture of you and him during the "Walk Thru" video shoot on his Instagram. He said you almost passed out on set. 

Yeah, I fell out. That shit was crazy forreal. Even just doing the song was like a problem. Like, that shit was crazy; I didn’t even know Problem was that talented. ‘Cause you know it’s like via email, so I didn’t see it coming either. When we got in the studio though, like the way me and him work -- I just love his energy, his vibe.  Like, he’d written on that song a lot. It’s not just my voice on the hook, that’s him making a couple of those references, so I was like, “Damn that’s what’s up; that’s the type of shit I be on. So I definitely like his creativeness and he likes to take control, and I like that type of shit.

And the record went gold. 

That’s what I’m saying. At that time, we were both independent. I think that’s why it was just good for that time.

With the success you’ve had with that record and “Some Type of Way” and “Flex,” do you have any regrets about your past label situation with T.I.G.?

I don’t think I have any regrets, but I'll tell you this, if I could do it all over, I wouldn’t.

Why?

Because I had to go through these trials and tribulations just to become stronger, and to be able to talk about it. If I didn’t go through it, it might’ve been later where I’m with a label and I have to go through something even worse than that of a situation I went through. And I’ve been strong enough to come back and to rebound from it. Average person would’ve been like, "I made enough money; I don’t need to do music no more." But nah man, I felt as though I owed it to my fans, and to myself too, to finish what I started and continue to do what I love doing.

Knowing what you know now, how do you manage to separate Rich Homie the artist from Rich Homie the businessman?

Oh, man, the biggest thing is just I can’t bring no feelings in it. At first, I used to walk around with my heart on my sleeve, like really feelings and everything. A lot of decisions I made, I can’t let the artist make ‘em. Step out of the artists’ world ‘cause there’s a lot of shit I don’t want to do. But as a businessman and what’s good for the brand, it’s different. You gotta step outside myself and see it as a regular person, or like as a businessman.

You have a line in the same song where you’re like, "I put n---as on and I don’t get credit for it.” Has your level of trust decreased, especially for those outside of your circle or clique? 

You right. That’s my song, like you right, verbatim. The team is gonna be my family, and as far as outside the team, I don’t feel as if I have to trust them, ‘cause everybody else ain’t gonna look at it like the business venture the way I’m looking at it. Everybody else ain’t gonna separate the business from the artist part. Everybody wanna be an artist all day every day -- then somebody else handling your business. So like, I don’t even get into that feel; I ain’t tryna put no feelings in. I ain’t tryna make no new friends, bro. I’m just being real like I don’t want no new friends. Even if I don’t get no more new hip-hop friends, I’m cool with that. I’m good with that.

Why don’t you care for that acceptance?

I did it already. It’s been done. It’s like reading a book you read three times. I know how that shit gonna end, you feel me?

So you’d be cool with leaving rap today if you had to leave?

If I had to leave rap today, hell yeah I’d be cool with it. But at the same time, depends on what I want to do right now. I wouldn’t say I’d be cool with, but I’m financially stable enough to leave that motherfucker. Yeah, stuff like that. But it’s like as long as my mind wanna do it, then I’ll do that shit. But if my mind don’t wanna do it, that’s when I give that shit up. What Drake said, “When I’m done having fun with it, I’m done with it," that’s how I feel. When it ain’t fun no more, that’s when there’s no more music. But that shit still excite me.

Yeah I heard about your house, man. You’re over there teaching your kids how to say Hublot. 

It just be crazy. I got kids now, so I gotta watch what I say. Now I got people listening. It’s more about the legacy I’m leaving. Like, you gotta think, I got kids so one day they gonna be able to just type in my name and see everything I ever did, so that shit means something to me. Like, the shit they see that I did, I made a lot of mistakes, and I fuck myself up, but at the same, I can just learn from that and try to be better. The words I use, I try to use them the right way because I know people watching and listening.

From reading some of your interviews, you seem like the ideal family man. It had to hurt when the whole TMZ incident about you smoking weed in front of your kids became a story.

It don’t even be that, it just be showing you like at no time do I take this shit for granted. Yeah, I’m a family man, everybody knows I love my kids and smoking isn’t something you should do in front of your kids, but I ain’t asked to be put on this pedestal, man. I only came in this when music was a hobby. So when it became a job, the way I looked at it wasn’t the same no more, like regular shit I do. I come from a Black household -- how many Black parents you know step out to smoke a cigarette? Just being real. Not saying it’s good though, people make mistakes everyday, man. Just learn from it, like it’s not cool to be smoking in front of your kids. That’s what I’m saying, like in my mind, I knew I had a lot of influence, but I didn’t know it was real.

You could have gone to an Atlantic, to an Epic, but ultimately, you went to Motown. That’s not necessarily a rap-centric label. Why go far left?

I’m gonna tell you like this, it started with more like growing up. Growing up, Motown had everybody, but they didn’t have no rappers. And I was a big fan of The Jackson 5 and The Temptations are like my biggest influence. But growing up you just love the label, you ain’t thinking like, ‘Oh, I ain’t signing to Motown.” My dreams sounded like Epic, Def Jam, Atlantic. But when I just went in there, it all seemed like choreography.

Like a presentation?

Like a presentation, like all premeditated. Sit at one of these tables, everybody comes in. But I’ll tell you what’s different at Motown. To this day, we ain’t sit at a table like that. I met everybody, but people was working and it was in tune. I just felt like, “Damn, this is a building I could feel comfortable in.” I could tell we was gonna work together. I ain’t gonna work for them, they ain’t gonna work for me, we was gonna work together.

You both saw the vision.

Yeah, saw the vision. After the meetings, I sat down with everybody, and there ain’t no perfect deal. I just think Motown the best situation for us and what we had going down.

You surprised a lot of people when you discontinued your Goin’ In series and returned with Back to the Basics. Why did you decide to abruptly stop, well, “goin’ in”?

'Cause the pain and the hunger is still there. And that’s what it’s about. The album’s like a blessing and a curse. 'Cause Still Goin' In’s my shit, but people are like, "Gimme that same spit."

One of my favorite records from your Back to Basics mixtape was “Gamble." So I gotta ask, are you still making calls on that money phone despite what JAY-Z said on 4:44

Of course, man. Only because in down south culture. Them money phones exemplify like I come from nothing. Like, if I put a hundred dollars up against my ear, it’s like, "C’mon bro." It’s a whole lot more than what I had. When I get older, I’ll learn to invest it, but for now man, I’ma stick this money phone up. I come from nothing, so that’s our trophy, like for our life and people down south. That’s why a lot of us still do the money phone.

I don’t take money pictures, but if you ask me to take a money phone picture, yeah I’ll take one. Cause I know I come from nothing and I’m still climbing. Once I get to the point where I’m done, but as long as I’m grinding, I’m still gonna feel like I’m accomplishing stuff. You gotta think, if I win the Grammy tomorrow, you think I ain’t gonna have no money phone? Psh, I’ll have two of them. I accomplished something. When I stop rapping, that’s when we gonna stop taking the money phone pictures because I don’t have nothing to accomplish no more.

Are you anti or pro Birdman right now?

I don’t got nothing against him. I ain’t with him and I’m not against him.

Fans have been clamoring for Rich Gang: Tha Tour Part II with you and Young Thug. I know you’ve been waiting for Thugger to press play and get the ball rolling. 

Nah, I haven’t. I’m only saying that because I ain’t waiting on nobody to press play on my career. That’s just being honest. If I can’t press play on my own shit, they shouldn’t even be playing them. I’m just focused on Quan. I ain’t putting my panties in a bunch hoping these n---as press play. That ain’t me. They do it, they do it, they don’t, they don’t. I’m still gonna focus on what I’ve been doing before I met Bird or Thug. I’m just focused on making good music.

With everybody doing collaborative projects now, do you ever sit back and wonder, “Man, we could really shut the game down right now if we drop Tha Tour Part II?"

I don’t ask myself that shit a lot of times, but guess what the question always is? Well not question, but what’s always in the back of my mind -- are you doing it for the people to make the money, or are you doing it because you really wanna do it? It ain’t about what I know that’ll break the internet, it ain’t about what I know will accumulate. It’s about  is my heart gonna be in it when I do it? Like nah, that ain’t it, like I ain’t trying to go with the in crowd. Just ‘cause a hundred people go left, I’m gonna be the one that goes right. Might take me longer, but I did it my way.

You and Future have some tracks together. When are you gonna free it for the people?

See, that’s just me. I was so self-sufficient with the way I’m grinding. And that’s still my mentality. I don’t want nobody feeling as if they got to cosign me to get me popular. I know I got them songs with Future, but I ain’t just star struck. I got a song with Wayne, but Wayne just puts on his two shoes just like I do. Wayne, he motivates me and inspires me by showing me that it can be done and taken to another level. The music’s gonna be there, I just wanna do it my way.

So whenever you feel you’re ready to release those songs, then you’ll let it fly?

Those motherfuckers might just come up on a leak one day. [Laughs]

I remember you was supposed to have a Drake track for your debut album.

And the shit leaked.

The shit leaked. So was that supposed to be for your album?

It was definitely supposed to be for my album. They leaked the whole hard drive. In the same studio we was doing the music in, I was doing my album. I think Bird and him was paying them, and they leaked all the music. That shit was crazy.

Do you have an age or a number in your mind when you want to gracefully bow out of hip-hop? 

I don’t know like 33.

Why 33?

I don’t know. That’s like five more years. That’s like a ten-year career, and with these young dudes, they gonna have the game changing. I’m in tune with that. And just because I might not be rapping, doesn’t mean I ain’t in hip-hop or not doing anything with music. Maybe I just ain’t rapping. I don’t want the knees giving out and shit like that.

You don’t want to be the old dude rapping.

Just trying to hang with the young dudes like that. Nothing against the old dudes still doing it, like Gucci just turned 38, like man, you can’t tell him nothing. It don’t seem like it, though.

He dropped like what three albums last year?

Like five projects. So that’s dope, but for me, I’ll say more like 35. Not 33, I’ll say 35. Cause I might be 33 looking like I’m 28, you know what I’m saying? So probably like 35, some shit like that. I might go all the way corporate, I might be one of them dudes at the big table, shaking your hand when you come in.

I’m not even gonna call you Rich Homie, it’ll just be Quan.

I mean, Dr. Quan then or some shit.