Q Da Fool Talks New Project 'Bad Influence,' Signing to Roc Nation and Supporting His DMV Peers
Q Da Fool has only been signed to Roc Nation for about nine months, but the DMV rapper came into his contract with a set plan -- he intends on taking over, without compromising himself.
In an industry as fickle as hip-hop, it’s a goal that’s often easier said than done. But coming from an area known to be especially hard on its own people, Q, born George Hundall, has tougher skin than most up-and-comers. Since his debut with the 2015 mixtape, Trap Fever, the 21-year-old has already pushed through the resistance of that reluctant love/hate mishmash that typically plagues DMV artists.
Right now, the Bad Influence creator is sitting at a conference table in midtown Manhattan. He speaks of being focused on his own maturation and that of his Rich Shootas collective. Latest project Bad Influence is a reflection of the cycle, the same pitfalls many young men of color end up having to deal with when they come of age. “The cycle always gon’ keep going, but as long as you know what’s going on, you gon’ win,” Q says, matter-of-factly. “People really dumb out here toting guns and not knowing the laws, they doing all kind of stuff and not knowing the laws but once they know? They’re like, “Oh, I ain’t doing that...”
“It’s like, right now, I’m just seeing bigger things,” he continues. “Now that I’ve left Largo [Maryland] for vacations and business trips, it’s like -- I’m seeing that it’s a whole other world. Bigger than this. But I can’t leave the country until 2021 once I’m off probation.”
Pride radiates in his tone when speaking about AK, one Rich Shootas artist who matches his own drive and talent, both inside and outside of the studio. Q’s management team, Dolla, C Note and Zee, are all on the same page when it comes to strengthening the brand. This gives Q Da Fool a little more time to dream.
“Aye D,” he shouts, after swiveling his chair to face the windows. Peering out over the glistening East River, almost in awe, he calls out again, “D! That’s the Statue of Liberty over there?” When it’s affirmed that indeed it is, Q leans further toward the window, whispering, “That’s crazy...”
Billboard sat with Q Da Fool to talk about Bad Influence, learning from the past and creating a future beyond what he imagined.
Why name the project Bad Influence?
I named it Bad Influence because we were in the studio and we made a song by that same name. Everything I was talking about on the song was deep. I ended up not putting the song on there, but I kept the name for the album. Now that the tape is out people should understand it more. Me and [producer] Kenny Beats didn’t have to send the songs to an engineer, he did it all himself. We took our time with every song, a lot of people are gonna be surprised.
What was the work process like with you and Kenny Beats? Did you learn a lot?
It was more of me asking him, “What you think about this?” It was more of me perfecting the chop, and just doing different stuff. He really made me more confident with the new styles that I’m doing. And that’s why I respect what he does. He doesn’t really work with a lot of people unless he’s a fan of them. He also works with Rico Nasty, she’s out of the DMV too. So it’s a good bond.
Would you say that the vibe between DMV artists has changed for the better from your debut up until now?
I’m not gon’ lie... Last year when I signed with Roc Nation, there was a lot of hate. But I work with everybody in the DMV -- anybody hot and up and coming, if you hot I’ma reach out and work with you. So it’s like now, since I did that, everybody’s in the routine of working together.
Now, it’s not as much hate in the DMV,. You can go to any one of these DMV-area artists and it’ll be other DMV artists under their posts [on Instagram]. Last year, none of these artists were under your posts or reposting none of your videos, because it was really jealousy. But now it’s like, everybody helping each other. Even with my music, when I posted the Bad Influence tape at first I was surprised by how much love I got. The whole DMV was posting it. Before, you’d have to ask people to repost.
Describe your connection to trap. Seems like you gravitated towards the southern style of hip-hop from the start.
I ain’t really lean toward the southern style but a lot of fire producers come out of the South. Not to say that there aren’t fire producers up here but I like going in on their beats. When I started working with my manager Terrance, who also works as Gucci Mane’s manager, he was working with Zaytoven and told him about me. He sent me a beat and I did a song then sent it back.
But he sent me like 50 beats! I never even would’ve expected that from Zaytoven. I never even thought i’d ever get a beat from him. So when I went down to Atlanta and started working with him, it was just crazy... Zay a cool dude.
How long did it take you and Zaytoven to finish your 2018 mixtape 100 Keys?
Q Da Fool: I recorded that in like a week at my home studio, but we did the videos once I got in the studio with him, and we just cooked up some more music.
What would you say has been your biggest lesson learned since Trap Fever?
Q Da Fool: My biggest lesson has been to stay humble and stay grinding. Stay trying new things, because you can’t be in a box. Also, I learned that you can’t judge your success by other people’s success, you can have your own name and be successful. You ain’t gotta judge you just gotta be happy with what you doing.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in yourself over the years?
I’ve gotten more mature. Just being around the world. In my head when I was young, I said, “I just want a mansion ‘round my way, in my neighborhood. And that’s it. I’ma be good.” But it’s like, once you go around the world and you see L.A., you see New York, you start thinking like, “Maybe I’ll get a mansion in L.A...”
What was your most memorable experience while working on Bad Influence?
Just walking into Kenny Beats' studio. In the DMV area, there are only like three studios and everybody be there. A lot of the studios aren’t really that professional, like it is if you go out to Cali -- or up here, you have Quad or Premier, these big studios... So to go to Kenny’s studio and there’s a producer and an engineer, I know we good because he’s just focused on this one thing. As soon as i walked in the studio, I was like, “Oh yeah, we ‘bout to make some heat.”
What’s your personal favorite on the project?
I have two favorites! I would say “Had Shit," because I’m telling the truth about how I ain’t had nothing, and now I got stuff, but everybody changes. It’s just the truth of the struggle, and what’s really going on in the lives of young black men coming up. Because everybody wants to be a rapper, but a lot of rappers are dying too.
“Drive the Streets Crazy” is my other favorite. We’re from Maryland, but we got good people in D.C. We got family out there, but it’s like D.C., Maryland, Virginia... Rich Shootas? We driving all the streets crazy out there. We all they talk about right now. I can go in the shoe store, the laundromat or whatever, and people are like, “Q!” They don’t know how much that means to me though. Some days I forget, I may just be walking through the mall to get something for my sons.
What’s the biggest accomplishment that you hope to achieve this year?
I really want [Rich Shootas] to be a productive label. I don’t wanna be one of those people who just talk about it. I want to set up distribution, resources and really good talent. Rich Shootas is a family, but on the business tip, I’m only supporting two or three rappers -- and that’s because I see they really want to do it, this is their only way out. Everybody’s rapping now, but I wanna give real people real opportunities, and show people that we can do it. This is real, it’s not just a dream.
You’ve been signed to Roc Nation for nine months at this point. How are you hoping to use this opportunity in the next year?
I want to get to a new platform and go harder. Right now, I feel like I took the DMV over and I just gotta expand. The world gotta see this and understand where we come from. The DMV hasn’t gotten that really big blow yet that we need.
Prison reform is an inevitable part of today’s conversation. People like Meek Mill have become activists for the cause and you’ve had your own history with the system.
When I was 15, I caught the charge for attempted murder, then I turned 16 in the process. But when I was growing up, the people that you’re looking up to you don’t know that a lot of stuff is wrong, but you looking up to it. Glorifying it. And you be lost in it to a point where you really a savage.
So, I caught attempted murder when I was 15, came home when I was 18, and I got locked back up because I still didn’t “get” it. I’ve been in jail, juvenile... In juvenile, they be babying you like it’s daycare, but when I got locked up the second time, I went to adult jail. That’s not even prison, but I felt it though. You don’t wanna live your life in jail, nobody do. But for a lot of people it be too late before they “get” it. Like, they’ll do something and go in there, then everybody wants to change their life -- but at that point, it’s over.
Some people are put into positions where they’ve got to commit crime. But you gotta know what you’re doing. You really gotta know the law, because they’ll have you deep in the system. People getting 20 years probation for something they could’ve done a year for. So now, you gotta be a saint for 20 years.
And you have twin baby boys. In a minute they’ll be 16, 17 years old, claiming to know everything.
I already know they gonna wanna be just like me, but I just wanna show them... When I was growing up, people would tell me a lot of stuff, but I liked to see for myself and make that judgment. I had two father figures, but you gotta be there for your kids their whole lives. You can’t be gone five years and come back and be gone again. I’ma be with mine their whole lives, and teach them how to be a man.