It takes a lot to be a star, from the look to the sound to the know-how. Q. Taylor is pairing his “behind the scenes” knowledge with a meaningful message, and he’s shooting to stardom. Growing up in Queens, NYC, Taylor’s parents submersed him in music and culture, especially hip hop. Q. Taylor has worked on music visuals for a long list of the hottest hip hop stars, from Busta Rhymes to Cardi B. After releasing a handful of ‘Q. Mixes’, Q. Taylor dropped his first EP, Prospect, on SoundCloud and Apple Music in January 2017.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the lyrical mastermind for a TUC NEXT UP Exclusive. Feel free to listen to the full interview as you read along.
Where are you from and what inspired you to pursue music?
“I’m from Queens, NY. East Elmhurst to be exact, aka “The Hurst” and what inspired me to get into music, well I kinda grew up around music my whole life. I’ve always had a passion for creating, whether it was setting my camera up in my kitchen, when I was a young kid, acting like I was on a TV show or something like that or just beating on some boxes and making noise.
My dad was actually a producer/manager and he was embarking on this whole music journey at one point when I was a kid but his venture wasn’t as successful as my venture, as it is now. I grew up in church, whether it was singing in the choir or pretending to learn how to play the piano, I think I would have to attribute my mother to that because she would always make sure I was involved, make sure I was always in some type of extracurricular activity and those extracurricular activities somehow always came back to music.”
What inspired you to start rapping?
“I have two other cousins that I began this journey with back in 2012. It was the first time we were all like in the same area at once because I went to boarding school in high school so I was away for a while, and I went straight to college after that. And so I came back home after 2 years in college and one of my older cousins, Daquan Zaheem, he’s probably one of the illest writers, illest rappers I know. And he actually had a vision for this company called Rearview Entertainment and I pretty much convinced my other cousin, Quell, who is currently my business partner for Cue2 Productions. I convinced him to get on board with that so that was pretty much the start of everything.
I think the moment when it all clicked was when I came home for the summer, I had just linked up with the guys, we were sitting in Quell’s room and somehow, someway a cycle broke out and I pulled out my MacBook, started recording and this actual cycle is on my Facebook and everything to this day. And these guys started writing, they just starting flowing and going and going, and I kinda wasn’t where they were at and I kinda took it personally and took it as a challenge and so that’s when I picked up the pen and started really taking this craft seriously. That was back in 2012.”
For those who aren’t familiar with Q. Taylor, what artist(s) would you say embodies your sound? Who are your artistic influences in the industry?
“I try to stay true to what I believe in, in terms of my artistry, but then I also love other movements. I’ve gotten Big Sean before…I attended a Chance the Rapper show for the first time at the Meadows Festival in my neighborhood and that was the first time I actually listened to Chance and the show was just amazing and he inspired me to actually write a song right after I attended the concert. So I guess you can say he’s an influence. Definitely, you’ve got your Kendricks, you’ve got your Drakes, Pac, Biggie, Jay Z, of course, he’s the king of hip hop thing.
I’m from the same neighborhood as Kid ‘n Play, my dad actually grew up with Kid ‘n Play. I think their influence on the town and neighborhood has inspired so many things that I do today within the community, trying to get the community involved in my music. My mom went to high school with Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest. She’s from South Side Jamaica so she grew up with those guys, back when Busta Rhymes and A Tribe Called Quest was coming out. My parents definitely made sure I was well rooted in my hip hop history. I guess you can say all those guys from back then are influences.
I would say the main influence for my music would have to be my personal experiences. Some more specific than others. I do play off of other’s experience, what they might go through, what they might share with me. I have a song called “What I Know”, in that song, its literally me just giving you my way of living life, the way I’ve led my life up until this point and the things I’ve learned up until this point. And basically telling people not to take this thing we call life for granted and to put your best foot forward, and to put your best foot forward at all costs.”
How did you come to start Cue2 Productions?
“Cue2 Productions was conjured up by both me and my cousin, who’s also my business partner, my right hand and my partner in crime, his name is Quell. We decided to move away from Rearview Entertainment. I go by Q. Taylor and he goes by Quell, we both start our aliases with the letter ‘Q’ so we started off as just a letter and the number 2 and we got Q2, we went a little further. Q, let’s spell it ‘C-U-E’, as if you’re being called to do something. And that’s how we got Cue2. We basically took the foundation we had from Rearview Entertainment and put it into Cue2 Productions but this time around, we’re older and able to fund our movements and our ventures a little more this time around.”
Who do you create visuals for ?
“I’ve done freelance work with BET, MTV, VH1, so I oftentimes find myself in a room with Cardi B. I’ve shot Nas, I’ve shot Fabulous, Busta Rhymes, Dime a Dozen, and Curtis Granderson of the New York Mets baseball team. On a minor scale, I’ve shot clients left and right.”
You’re very passionate about your music video production. Up until now, what is your favorite piece you’ve ever produced?
“That’s difficult because I feel like each one is a banger in my opinion, which says a lot, it speaks volumes. I would have to say the one I had the most fun creating probably had to be mine and Quell’s video for “Faded” off of his EP, Fragments of a Shattered Heart. It was basically a house party, we tried to catch a whole story line but it didn’t quite work out but you can catch me in the video turning up as well, getting crazy and what not. I think that was probably the most fun I had. Had the whole gang with us, plus some. We just had a good time.”
Who is your favorite person to work with in the entertainment industry?
“I would have to say Kevin Spacey. I had the opportunity to work as a production assistant on a master class that he was having. And we basically had a class and they take a handful of up and coming actors and he basically taught them how to act and added things to their craft and skillset. He was very welcoming, very nice. He made you feel like you weren’t just a normal civilian. Celebrities at times can put themselves on a pedestal, Kevin Spacey made you feel right at home. He didn’t like being called ‘Mr. Spacey’, he wanted to be called ‘Kevin’. That was a cool experience.”
If you had one song resonate with your audience, which would it be? Why?
“It would have to be “What I Know”. Its not the most lyrical song on my EP, Prospect , but I feel like it really does speak a message to the people that I’m trying to touch. It also reassures the older fan base and older generation that there is some type of hope in our generation. That they could give us the keys to the door and let us work. I want that song to really stick with people because I see people too often times just living their lives recklessly, not taking it seriously. Next thing you know, they look up and they can’t seem to bounce back. I’ve seen that too often in the black community itself, I can’t really speak to any other community but only to what is around me. Too many times you see people take this thing we have for granted and let it slip them by. So I just try to reassure them that things are going to be ok. If you take some of the things I’m saying and apply it to your life, then you’ll be ok.”
Your EP, Prospect was release in January of this year. What is the moral of the story you present throughout this piece?
“I wasn’t always in the limelight like how I am considering that I’m behind the camera most of the time. Prospect was an introduction to Q. Taylor and it was basically letting people know that I’m here, I deserve a place in this industry and in this game and not to take me lightly. I’m a force to be reckoned with. That’s pretty much what I want people to get from that. I have songs on there like “Prospect”, which is kind of a self-titled intro. The first few bars are, “you know it’s my time/ I came for my shine” and basically, I’m just telling people look out, Q. Taylor is here.
I have songs on there, like “Ode to Me” which is the last song. That song is pretty much a vow to myself and not letting people take advantage of what I have to offer. The song before that [Marathon] kinda plays into “Ode to Me” because it’s a song about heartbreak, losing someone special, and them breaking my heart. That song pretty much speaks to how they did me and how I’m gonna be alright pretty much, then it goes straight into “Ode to Me”. Basically saying this is what I want, this is what I demand as a human being.”
We’ve talked about your business partnership with your cousin, Quell but I’ve seen that you work with Danny Bobby quite a bit. How did that partnership come to be ?
“Danny Bobby, that’s my guy! So, my uncle, he signed up for musical engineering school. He bumped into Danny, and Danny and I were both 21 at the time, this was maybe 3 years ago. Me and Danny, we met, we hit it off from there. Danny is probably one of the greatest engineers/ producers that I’ve ever met and he’s been so willing to work with us so much. You often times hear of the ‘musician’s struggle’ when it comes to finances and just trying to get these tracks made and everything like that but Danny always made sure it got done. Anything I asked Danny to do, he did it for me. And that’s how that relationship started. We recorded my other cousin, Daquan Zaheem’s first mixtape (SYCD- Something You Can’t Deny), at the school and we’ve been working with Danny ever since.”
What does True Urban Culture mean to you ?
“I think Urban Culture is the epicenter of life right now. You see it in everything – the clothing, the way people do things on the internet now, the way people walk, they talk. You gotta look at it like Uzi, who’s kinda like crossing over into other genres but they’re still considering it rap. Rock was created by black people. I kinda feel like we’re taking back what was ours initially. This country was built off of Urban Culture and I feel like we’re finally getting the recognition for that, like a Renaissance…It means life to me pretty much, it’s the very force that drives the world. It’s just like our heartbeat. If we skip one beat, that might be it for us. I think True Urban Culture is life, its what you identify yourself with, and what you identify yourself as. It’s what makes me, as a young, black man, at the end of the day.”
Q. Taylor says the monumental music video for “Way Up” (ft. Quell, prod. By Danny Bobby) should drop within the next few weeks. Also to come, Q. and Quell will be joining forces for a collaborative mini-movie for “Marathon” and “Alone” (by Quell). Q. Taylor is currently looking for features for his upcoming works. If you’re interested, feel free to reach out to him through his social media or here.
Special thanks to Q. Taylor for interviewing with TUC Magazine. Listen to the whole interview here:
All Photos Courtesy of Q. Taylor and Cue2 Productions.