When TQ emerged on the scene in 1998 he quickly made a name for himself as an R&B voice from the West Coast that would be around for a long time. Initially he signed with Sony/Epic Records to release his highly touted debut album, They Never Saw Me Coming. His stronghold overseas was evident from the gate, as he would release his sophomore album The Second Coming in the UK two years after his debut. It didn’t take long before his hustle and sound would land him with Cash Money Records, becoming the official voice on the hook for a few tracks from Lil’ Wayne and the Big Tymers. Short lived success there and no album led TQ making moves independently since 2004’s Listen. For his fans, his releases have been borderline classic. His voice and unique style of writing make him easy to relate to and similarly easy to love.
We’ve talked to TQ now three times in his career, each time continuously impressed by how he moves, sometimes under the radar but always steadfast and intentional to create quality music for the long haul. Now, with his latest project, Legendary 2.0 the EP out, a new music app that allows him to get his music directly to his fans and followers plus new music on the horizon, TQ is in a position better than some of your favorite artists.
Here’s our conversation with the artist they never saw coming back in ’98 and remarkable many still don’t see coming after over a decade of hits, even though he’s consistently dropping “legendary” shit. Ladies and gentleman, TQ…
Parlé Magazine: First and foremost, let’s talk about your passion for music. What motivates you to continue to find innovative ways to release and get the music to the fans?
TQ: Necessity! (laughs) People don’t really wanna buy music these days. Even if they do, you can’t expect people to constantly pay for what they can get for free. But the fine line is this, we as artists have to find ways to make a living. I’m always trying to look at both sides of the fence and take both the fan and artist sides into account. I love music. I’d do it for free if I could… BUT I CAN’T. (laughs)
Parlé: You’ve obviously been on a major label and had some success there, but at this point is that a route you would never consider again?
TQ: You know I thought I never would but I’ve been in a lot of talks about releasing my new album. It’s definitely sweetening up a bit. The fact that the labels now want us to do ALL the work it actually gives us a little more leverage. We’ll see what happens. A major label is a huge plus when you’re trying to go to radio.
Parlé: For those who may not know, I know you’ve found success overseas along with recent independent releases, but what have you been doing the last couple of years since Legendary and even before that between Kind of Blue and Legendary?
TQ: I work like the Jamaicans from In Living Color (laughs). A bit of everything. A lot of writing for TV and Film. Worked with a bunch of artists. I had an events company in New Orleans until last year. That was successful but not fun AT ALL. I also do a lot of work with National College Resources. We get kids in Universities. Period.
Parlé: Writing for film and TV? What’s some stuff you’ve worked on?
TQ: I make a lot of music. Some of it has been featured in films like Like Mike and Bringing Down The House. Games like GTA and a couple others. I’ve been doing that stuff for a while.
Parlé: Is that something you see yourself doing more of in the future?
Yeah, it’s a lot of fun actually and it pays well. (laughs)
Parlé: Also want to talk about your work with the National College Resources, TQ love the kids?? We don’t often spotlight positive things like that when are artists do it. How long have you been working with them and what made you want to get involved?
TQ: That started back in 2001. My manager at the time, Theresa Price put a program together in 7 cities to get inner city youth into universities. I would’ve been fresh out of college at the time and I actually chose a publishing deal over going to college. And I had free rides to some great universities. I think it gave me a great perspective in talking to and recruiting kids. I may be a musician but I graduated from high school with honors and on the Dean’s List. 3.667 GPA. WHAT!!!!
EDUCATION BEFORE ALL. Holla at us! https://www.thecollegeexpo.org/
Parlé: You’ve been in the industry now over a decade, what are some misconceptions about TQ that you think need some clarifying?
TQ: I’m NOT A RAPPER!!!!! Never have been. Not good at it.
Parlé: Let’s talk about the iTQ app, what inspired that?
TQ: Looking at my analytics, I saw that my visitors to my site were overwhelmingly from mobile devices. I wanted them to have a more streamlined way to connect with me. I stopped putting my resources into the website and focused more on the app to give a better option for fans on their phones.
Parlé: How long did it take to put together?
TQ: It’s a tedious process actually. Every addition has to be tested. I started on it 6 mos. ago. Shout out to SoLife Photography (@solifestudios) and FullyEtched.com for the design. You can get the app at http://therealtq.com/itq-app for iOS and Android.
Parlé: The new project, Legendary 2.0, what can listeners expect from it?
TQ: It’s an appetizer, heavy beats. Summer music you know? I was thinking, let the top down and press play…
Parlé: Your working with artists like Future, Yo Gotti and 2 Chainz on this project. That might surprise some folks, but how’d you link up with those dudes and why did you decide to have them on this project? (Particularly since we haven’t seen a real mainstream feature like that in a while on your music)
TQ: Mike Mosley (of Steady Mobbin Productions and producer of TQ’s first album, 2Pac, E40 and more) linked me with those guys. He was like “Man let’s get with these rappers like you used to do to get peoples attention. Go back to that hustle shit cuz you still got it.” At a certain age I figured I’d get away from the hood in my music. Then I’m like… “For what???” (laughs)
Parlé: You’ve never been a contemporary R&B artist, so you always had to work harder to get heard. With the way R&B has changed since you’ve come in the game, do you think it makes things easier or more difficult for an artist like you?
TQ: Ask me in a couple months… (smirks). Nah it’s definitely harder because after you get heard you have to figure out how to monetize it… It’s an uphill battle but the love of music is like heroin. You absolutely need it!
Parlé: Who/what does TQ listen to when you’re not listening to yourself?
TQ: I like Banks, The Black Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, John Legend, and most 90’s R&B. NWA Greatest Hits, and 2 Pac All Eyes On Me never leave the top of the playlists. Period.
Parlé: Your new single, “Coming Home,” any preview of what we can expect from it?
TQ: Yep. The single could’ve been the 2nd single from my first album… It’s my kinda song. The kind you’re only gonna get from one cat on earth. Moi. Get ready!
Parlé: Besides that, what’s next for TQ?
TQ: Time to tour! We’re putting together dates for the rest of the year. Stay tuned to http://www.TheRealTQ.com for more info!
Parlé: What do you hope your legacy in music is when folks look back at your career?
TQ: I just want the people who love my music to pass it on… I listen to the old Motown stuff with my kids cuz my parents listened to it with me. That’s how it lives on.
Parlé: Can’t let you go without asking your thoughts on what’s going on with Cash Money. I know it’s been a whole lot of years since you been over there, but what are your thoughts seeing how this is turning out?
TQ: I did a blog for AllHipHop some years ago… I pretty much called it then. Wayne is a hell of an artist. Hopefully he gets into a position where he can get some clarity and peace so that he can get back to being Weezy. That’s my opinion for what it’s worth.
Readers Also Liked:
[INTERVIEW] Songstress Ledisi Gracefully Continues To Let Love Lead The Way