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Issue 1084

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Feature

TQ: A LITTL' Q&A

TQ @B&S
TQ @B&S TQ @B&S TQ @B&S TQ @B&S

Known globally for his 1998 West Coast gangsta anthem âWestsideâ, Compton, California-raised singer/songwriter/
producer Terrance âTQâ Quaites is currently going the independent route with the release of his new, fifth album âParadiseâ. Which boasts guest appearances from Bone, Thugs & Harmony rapper Krayzie Bone, plus seasoned male R&B vocal quartet Jagged Edge.

Born in Mobile, Alabama, in May 1976, TQ (who moved to California at an early age) began his professional music career back in 1993 as a member of R&B boy-band Coming Of Age. With the group going their separate ways after two albums, it was TQâs own 1999 debut solo LP âThey Never Saw Me Comingâ (which spawned the aforementioned international million-selling âWestsideâ plus its hit follow-up âBye Bye Babyâ) that brought him instant worldwide success.

Indeed, with TQâs songwriting reflecting a conflicting upbringing that encompassed both teenage drug-dealing and singing in the churches of his Compton âhood, said album unquestionably broke new musical ground. Its combination of soulful vocal melodies and explicit LP ghetto tales creating a new middle-ground between the emotive R&B stylings of R. Kelly and NWAâs gangsta-rap stance. Indeed, with his hip hop-derived swagger and delivery causing critics to dub him âthe creator of Reality R&Bâ - or, in some cases, even âa singing 2Pacâ(!) - TQ to this day attributes much of his wide-ranging appeal to his aforementioned upbringing on the mean streets of Nineties Compton.

âYeah, I think it had a great, GREAT impactâ, he confirms; âI feel like the place where Iâm from has played a major part in where I am today. I feel like Compton, California basically gave me a canvas to paint on, and what I had within my eyesight back then is basically where all the colours came from. Because, while some of the experiences I had were rough and probably something a young kid shouldnât see - the gang thing in Compton back in Eighties and Nineties was ridiculous - at the same time I think it allowed me to grow up fast. Which - when youâre doing something creative as a job, and itâs the kinda job that reaches out to so many different people - is really a plus.â

âI mean, itâs because I was able to see so many different kinds of things early on that I was able to write about it and translate it to my fans. You know, when I read my e-mails and I read my fan-mail, it does seem like my fans take more from my music than from the average person. When theyâre worried about where the rentâs gonna come from, or when they donât have any money in their pocket, or their government doesnât seem to be taking care of them properly, they listen to TQ! And to me that just goes to show it was the things I went through in the place I grew up that have allowed me to write the typea music that can touch peopleâs souls.â

âYou know, when I wrote âWestsideâ and the whole of that first album, I was basically just talking to a group of people who lived within my vicinity at that timeâ, continues an ever-affable TQ: âI had no idea that those songs were gonna transcend to so many other people for so many different reasons, And going to all those different places that my music has taken me - London, Paris, India - just kinda turned everything AROUND for me! It totally changed my thought process and turned me onto new cultures, new ways of thinking... It basically just showed me how big the world is, and how broad my scope needs to be. Whereas, when you grow up in America and you live in America your whole life, you really have a warped view of what the worldâs about. So Iâm very thankful for where my career has taken me. Because, as much as I love my fans here in The States, I do think that thereâs just a deeper connection that I have with people overseas. They really genuinely wanna hear my story, and they wanna see how close - or how far - it is from their OWN.â

With his first two albums (1999âs aforementioned âThey Never Saw Me Comingâ and 2000âs âThe Second Comingâ) having been released internationally through Sony, TQ has mixed feelings about now putting out his product independently: âWell, for me personally itâs kind of a sticky situation. Because I did it kinda backwardsâ, he admits openly: âI think it probably would have been easier if Iâd FIRST come out as an independent, and THEN gone to a major. Whereas the fact that I went to a major first basically gave me this huge fan-base that it just hasnât been possible to reach independently as yet. I havenât been able to get into a situation where I actually have the arms to serve everybody that actually wants to buy the records in the WAY they wanna buy them.â

âYou know, my fan-base is spread out across the whole world, and encompasses so many different kinds of people for so many different reasons. I mean, thereâs no demographic, thereâs no geographic⦠If you were to put a buncha TQ fans in one room, it would be like The Rainbow Coalition! Because it doesnât go by race, it doesnât go by age, it doesnât go by gender. So the task of actually finding a way to get the music to all of these people is basically the problem that Iâm faced with, and that has to be the biggest âconâ of being independent. Whereas the biggest âproâ is that, on the business side, you can just make way more money for a fraction of the records youâd have to sell on a major. So, you know, it is a fine line. And, as a businessman, I just have to figure out how to bridge the gap a little bit.â

In the meantime, the ever-versatile Mr. Quaites (whoâs quietly over the years written/produced for the likes of Lil Wayne, R. Kelly and Whitney Houston), has also been âdoing a Will Smithâ and working the Hollywood circuit by taking on acting roles in a number of upcoming movies: âWelI, Iâve always loved to watch movies. And the reason I like them is because I like to see actors ACT! More so than the movie itself, I love to see a great performanceâ, he explains: âSo, while Iâm not gonna say that Iâm as serious about acting as I am about music, it is definitely something I can see myself doing more of in the future. Because I have a lotta fun with it, and I really do get into character. You know, I enjoy being somebody else, and Iâve actually done four indie films so far which are all slated to be released in â09.â

âOne is called âRockinâ Meeraâ, which is like a half-Hollywood/half-Bollywood film that I went to India to shoot out in the desert. Itâs very action-packed, with sword-fighting and all kindsa stuff going on. Then another one is actually a remake of Shakespeareâs âRichard 111â that I have a small part in. While the other two are âThe Devilâs Grindâ - which is a real shoot-em-up/bang-bang hardcore urban thing - and âConsequencesâ, which is a family story that a lotta people are gonna be able to get into. But of course, being just an actor, the way the movie game works means I donât really have any control over release dates for any of these films. So, all I can suggest is that people keep watching my website for updates as to when theyâre coming out!â

The album 'Paradise' and double-A-side single 'Sexy'/'Paradise' are both out now through Gracie Entertainment
Words PETE LEWIS

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