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Quest M.C.O.D.Y. Interview

July 30, 2008

He doesn’t have the universal love of Eminem or a posthumous J Dilla, but Quest M.C.O.D.Y. has done his duty in representing Detroit outside of the city’s boundaries. He’s been on Showtime as a contestant in its The Next Episode series with Interscope Records, he was one of VIBE’s Top 51 Unsigned Rappers in VIBE magazine last year, and made an appearance on MTV True Life. He’s also established himself as an elite battle rapper, rapping both solo and alongside fellow Detroiter MarvWon in the likes of the storied Rap Olympics, the World Championship Rapping battle with Jumpoff.TV, and other countless competitions.

With his upcoming The Light Project debut album, he plans to take his success even further. We’ve got some audio from him below; and just in case that isn’t enough, this weekend’s release party for the album (which was recently moved to the Mecca of Detroit Hip Hop, St. Andrew’s Hall) has performances by The Gorilla Funk Mob, Guilty Simpson, Marvwon, Miz Korona, Invincible and Finale—some of Detroit’s most respected Hip Hop figures. In an interview with MichiganHipHop.com, he talks about shedding his Light on the industry, what he learned from working with labels and TV, and why both respect and confidence are equally important to up and coming emcees.

 

Ok man, let’s start off with this, where did the name The Light Project come from?
I feel that things are dark in the industry right now, but music as a whole. It’s a project that can shed light on a lot of different things and a lot of things out here in music today.

 

What on this album helps it stand out and shed light on the game?
It’s a real concept-heavy album. There’s a song called “You,” it’s one of the most emotionally vulnerable songs on the album. The entire album was produced by Yung Viz. It’s a real soulful album. A lot of times people lose the whole music aspects of the album.

 

What makes “You” so special of a song?
Basically, that’s just me talking to God, saying that nobody holds me down the way God does. But at the same time, saying that I have my own issues. One part of the joint, I say, “Women jump into hoops for Flava Flav, yeah I’m telling the truth/but God, ain’t nobody jumpin’ for you/but I watch it every week, so I’m a hypocrite, too.” What I was saying was that sometimes, just like everybody else, I see the problem, but I don’t always necessarily fix the problem. While making the album, one of my main goals was not to be preaching to anybody, but to just talk to ‘em. In another song, I say, “Same cats from the block is still here, but it’s more to a book than its cover, so look here,” meaning my heart. Basically saying that sometimes people think they can’t be hood, or they can’t be street, or they can’t be tough—whatever the case is—because they’re speaking on a certain subject matter. It just opens up a lot to say, “Yo, I’m just like everybody else that knows right from wrong and good from bad, but at the end of the day, I make mistakes.” Just being able to tell people, or display my opinion on what the right things are, without saying that I’m holier than thou, and that I follow these guidelines, which isn’t necessarily true. But I know certain things, and we all have a certain set of morals that we uphold, and we break them sometimes. That’s why it’s one of the more vulnerable songs, because it criticizes me for mistakes I’ve made, but it also lets it be known that nobody, regardless of whatever, can hold me down the way God has held me down. … Whatever’s happened to me, good or bad, has happened in the hands of a greater power.

The beauty in that song is that you can apply it to anything: God, Buddha, Allah, whatever the case is. Your mother, your father, your loved one, you can look at them and say, “Nobody can hold me down the way you do.” It’s a real universal song, but it’s also very honest, and it’s open to a lot of vulnerability.

You talk about shedding light on the industry, and as rap music is often seen as one dimensional and cookie cutter-like these days, what do think can help change the game?
Diversity. It’s no such thing as “good” Hip Hop and “bad” Hip Hop. There’s a balance between the two. If you try to pound one thing into the heads of people, it tends to fall over. There’s gotta be a balance. There’s gotta be a 50 Cent and Kanye. There’s gotta be a Common and a Soulja Boy. There’s gotta be a Jay-Z and Nas. There’s gotta be a balance. What The Light Project is gonna try to open the eyes of the listeners.

To change gears a little, we’ve seen you on YouTube with MarvWon on the battle scene, and even saw you rep the D on MTV’s True Life: I’m a Battle Rapper. How did that whole thing come about?
It was a luck-of-the-draw situation. I was actually taking my friend (MarvWon) into a battle. They had different prizes and come to find out that there were different prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. We started talking and decided that, “Yo, we might as well get all this money!” We entered the contest and [MTV] started following me and documenting what we were doing. It’s funny because I’ve been so blessed to have been on two different reality shows (the other being Showtime’s The Next Episode). It was a real big thing for me because I was just getting started. It got me affiliated with a lot of different people. And actually it let me know how the industry works. I mean, just to do the reality show, I had to sign a recording contract with Interscope. And there was no promise of anything it was just, “Yo, if you blow up, we got you. But if you don’t, we ain’t gotta do shit with you.” It was a good learning process and it taught me how to work my contacts, and explore all my options.

Nothing wrong with that, my dude. What’s next for Quest M.C.O.D.Y after The Light Project?
This is gonna go down as a classic album. It’s the kind of album that’ll generate a buzz. It’s gonna take me to the next level. I’ve been talking with a lot of major independent labels. They’re just waiting to see what I can do on my own. This is gonna open a lot of doors. I plan on doing an international tour. I’ve been to a lot of different cities and states. I got an alternate plan for myself and, you know, I’m watching it unfold now. I plan to generate as big of a buzz as I did with anything else I’ve done. Just like being a battle MC brought me to the living rooms of millions of Americans, and shit, millions of people internationally. And the Internet from YouTube to MySpace brought me into the computer rooms of millions and millions of people; I plan on doing the same with my music, and sheddin’ some light on the game that’s dark. We need somebody to be the pioneer and the frontrunner for a new wave of MCs and I’m lookin’ to do that.

To get to this point, you had to start somewhere. What are some of your Hip Hop influences? What got you started?
What got me into Hip Hop didn’t have anything to do with rap. Actually it had to do with the fact that I couldn’t dance. I was in elementary school and we were doing this school program or whatever, and the teacher said, “Who can do the moonwalk?” and I could do the moonwalk, and she said she was gonna put me in the program. So we went to rehearse and people were breakdancing and nobody else knew how to do any of that. I knew I couldn’t do any of that. So the teacher said, ‘well hey, maybe you do a rap?’ Right then, I did a rap on reading right there at the school. From there, I started developing.

See, growing up, I couldn’t listen to NWA or Slick Rick or Rakim or anybody that curse because my mom was heavy on that. So I used to listen to Fresh Prince, Heavy D, and LL when he didn’t have a parental advisory sticker on it. The Momma Said Knock You Out album was clean. And I’d take their rap and I’d make them into mine. I’d put my name in ‘em. And then as time went on, I never wrote raps down, I would just say them to myself, and I got more and more serious about it, went to the studio and recorded it. And that was my influence right there! School of all places is where I got started.

That’s the first time I have heard that elementary school is where someone got started. It went from where you started in elementary and you flipped it into something bigger.
Yeah, it’s makin’ me money now! [laughs] It’s a lot better than rappin’ for your school. I’ve been blessed to see a lot of this world because of rap. I got a friend and we talk about it all the time: when shit gets tough, it’s like “Hell, I went to New York on rap. I went to LA on rap. I went there on rap!” You know it’s a blessing, most definitely.

Some people may not know your story, but you came back from a whole lot. Help people understand what you’ve been through that’s bigger than this rap shit, and what else you have been through leading up to The Light Project.
It’s been a lot of different obstacles that a lot of people don’t know about. It’s not something I necessarily like to talk about. I’m just blessed to be here. I’m the victim of a tragic car accident that took the lives of two of my aunts and my grandmother. I suffered a skull fracture. Think of when you fracture your arm and it shatters into pieces; well that’s what happened to my head! It takes a lot out of you, especially when you look back because that could’ve been the end of my story right there! You know?!

Right!
I was thrown out of a conversion van and it landed on my head, bro! … The axle of the van, it popped off the wheel and I was under the axle when it landed. It took people stopping their cars and helping to pull the van off of me in order for me to still be here. I look at everything like ‘Yo, you’re put here to do something!’ If I’m not here to sell millions and millions of records, I’m trying, as long as I can reach one or two people or whatever, every time I go and do a show, It enough to me because I’m living proof that you can get through anything. I bounced back from what should’ve killed me in seven days. I had 75 staples going across my head from ear to ear from where they split my head open.

My grandmother’s and aunts’ funeral was seven days later. I told the doctors that I was gonna make it to my grandmother’s funeral. And they were like ‘We just gotta take things one day at a time…” and I was like ‘No, I’m gonna make it to my Grandmother’s funeral!’ My grandma always called me hard-headed and said I ain’t listen to nobody, you know, but being hard-headed helped me get through that, you know what I’m saying! [laughs]

Right. [laughs]
For four days, I couldn’t see. We take for granted a lot of things, and I learned that day that seeing is one of them! I couldn’t understand until that moment how important seeing was. And you recognize and see how messed up you are, and you’re like “Damn,” you don’t think about how lucky you are. I would go through things and I would try to hide or cover my scar and I felt bad about it. But now, I look at it and it’s like, “I’m here!” And I’m trying to make sure that every time someone hears my music, it’s opening their eyes.

Working with Yung Viz, who’s one of the best producers in the Midwest, helped me get out a lot of frustration because a lot of the music I was doing, while it was me, it wasn’t a full picture. It was like a sketch. … Now it’s time to present the whole thing, and The Light Project is gonna open up a lot doors and gonna open up a lot of eyes. It’s gonna be music you can see.

Quest M.C.O.D.Y “Dreamin (Big Proof 4 Ever)”

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Quest M.C.O.D.Y. “Fade Back”

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Quest M.C.O.D.Y. “The Light Project” Sampler

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The Light Project Drops August 2, 2008.
The Light Project Release Party August 2 @ The Shelter in Detroit. (More Info)

2 Comments »

  1. qwesh says:

    get it quest!

    July 30th, 2008 at 6:40 pm

  2. Quest M.C.O.D.Y. - Fade Back (rmx) f. Royce Da 5′9″ & Guilty Simpson « 2dopeboyz says:

    […] to Fade Back and Proof gets a dope dedication on Dreamin‘. While you’re at it, hit up MiHH for an recent interview. What up […]

    August 6th, 2008 at 2:18 am

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