San Quinn: Fillmore's Finest
In the decade and a half that followed he lived through both the mob and hyphy eras of Bay Area music, dabbling in both but always with a nuanced and personal approach to lyricism. The past month has seen Quinn drop both his seventh solo album From A Boy To A Man [click to read] as well as Welcome To Scokland ,a full length collabo with raspy voiced Oakland legend Keak The Sneak. There still aint no game like Fillmore game.
HipHopDX: So what was the thought process behind From A Boy To A Man?
San Quinn: I wanted to make a great record, man. I grew up in Hip Hop, I grew up in this rap music shit. I put out my first record [Live N' Direct] in March of 93. Now Im 30 years old, and Im still independent. Its basically about young man growing up in rap and what Ive accumulated during the time of me growing up. My ups, my downs, my strong sides, my bad sides, my family, everything. Im just putting people all the way in my business. Its like reality TV and it aint like Im getting away with everything like Im Superman or Im some super hero. Its a man with difficulty and struggles like anybody else.
DX: People might not realize how young you were when you got into this. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that you sounded so mature on those old records. It was never like Kris Kross or Chi Ali.
San Quinn: Yeah, in Fillmore motherfuckers get laced with a lot of game and Im a sponge. I picked up a lot of stuff off everybody who I be around and people who are truly intelligent would learn from everybody that theyd be around. Im not saying Im the sharpest dude, I do make my mistakes, but in the course of me living I was able to pick up on some real shit. JT [The Bigga Figga] helped me perpetrate through my shit, so my shit just was real. Like grown man shit.
DX: And its come full circle, now that you have your own son, Lil Quinn rapping on your new record at just 11 years old.
San Quinn: That song means the most to me. He grew up with me in this. When people buy the album, on the inside cover is me and my son, Lil Quincy and my youngest son Aki. I had Lil Quincy when I was 18, when I was 19, when I did Shock The Party.
DX: Is it a case where youre sitting down and writing raps with him or is it just something he picked up on his own?
San Quinn: Hes self-sufficient, Lil Quinn is his own man. He thinks that hes gonna be a part of the Hip Hop business and Im pushing that line for him to do so. But he has to finish school and everything else first, because this isnt even easy for me. Im hustling, Im day-to-day. I aint out here balling. But a motherfucker aint asking nobody for nothing either. So I want to make it easier and better for him once he decides to get into this, if he decides this is the field of business he wants to be in. Right now hes just playing with it and hes naturally raw because of who he is, Lil Quinn.
DX: So you think hell end up pursuing it as a long term goal?
San Quinn: We want to be multimillionaires, so my success will determine his success entirely. And he wants to be bigger and better than me. So Im trying to get in executive mode and get it to where music is selling again and hopefully well get the fans out here in California and Arizona and everywhere else supporting records like they do in the south. Like how Plies [click to read] is real strong. They can bring out anybody and theyll have good numbers. Im not hating on him, Im just comparing the numbers. Its enough area out here where we [can] support a Willie Northpole from Arizona. Thats the west, we fuck with him and hell go bigger. Thats what we need out here.
DX: What do you think about how the majors were pushing hyphy
San Quinn: [Interrupts] Well, before you even go any further about hyphy, hyphy is Keak the Sneak [click to read]. Its one of his attitudes and his mannerisms he made up and that one just hit. And Mac Dre. Thats the way of life, how these youngsters is living out here all the way from Sacramento all the way down to San Jose. Theyre the children of crack babies. Crack babies done got a hold of ecstacy pills and they going crazy. And hyphy is going on all over America, if you look at the statistics of how motherfuckers is just going wild. The hyphy part that Keak made, it tends to bring the crazy people to the party. They can dance with their gun on them and shake their dreads and leave that shit alone for a minute. And its still going on out here, its just that nobody hit big enough to where its a multimillion dollar industry out here yet. So with From A Boy To A Man if you wanna hear something real, Im shooting from the heart as usual.
DX: Is that frustrating for you being a more laid back and lyrical dude that people now expect a crazier sound from the bay?
San Quinn: Well its cause thats what they heard. How could you forget about Tupac and MC Hammer? People be on computers and they dont even study, thats what tripped me out. You just YouTube the recent shit, but you need to check the recent shit and then we wouldnt be getting categorized. You need to pick up all my stuff [2004's] I Give You My Word, all that. They need to listen to Keaks [2001 album] Hi-Tek when he was really just firing up the hyphy. Mac Dre. Study the history. But then also Tupac Shakur, and then also Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship. Come on man, give us our props as people who have been pioneers of free music for years. It takes historians and people who really know to tell the truth and not just look for a story [about] the death of something. Talk about the whole life and the whole area and the vibrance behind it.
DX: Yeah it seems like so many of you guys can go from one style to the next so easily.
San Quinn: The Bay Area is a diverse place. Black and Latinos hang out together. Filipinos is cool out here, they fly, we love em. The Samoans, the Chinese. We all in the party, partying to the same music. We go to the same high schools together. The melting pot makes it to where you could be dealing with a young [black] man [who] has no problem being around white people or nothing like that, respecting them in a manner, Oh I went to school with Jimmy, he went to Sacred Heart with me and I know his brother. We can respect a motherfucker on a square level.
DX: What do you think its gonna take for the rest of the country to catch on to that mentality?
San Quinn: Its gonna take for San Quinn to go big and other people thats affiliated with me thats doing their thing. Im not just gonna categorize it as me being the best, but other people from out here where Im at, that I know is talented enough to go overboard for us and get more national television exposure. Thatd be the best thing for all of us. For all the rappers that people love out here, thats from the Bay Area, every single one of us. Im not leaving one of them out in this conversation. People feel like they need to be seen on TV, like [Messy Marv], the Mob Figgaz, people who theyve been hearing but they havent been seeing on TV. They need to see us on television. MTV, 106 & Park, get us up out this rut we in.
DX: So whats your situation with Mess right now? [Quinn recently had a falling out with his cousin and long time collaborator, resulting in back and forth string of diss tracks]
San Quinn: I love Mess.
DX: Have you guys put all your issues behind you?
San Quinn: [Long silence] I was loving Mess when that shit happened. People just, I just I love him, thats all I can say. Thats all.
DX: Youve got an album with Keak coming out as well.
San Quinn: Yes I have an album coming out with Keak that is gonna be phenomenal, Welcome To Scokland. [Its] gonna let people know whats going on in the Bay Area, who we are as people. Because people still classify us as.. when they think of California they think of L.A. because L.A. is our strong point. And they think of [E-40] and "40 Water" [click to read] has just been doing a great job, but its hard for him to do that job on a national level by himself. So, BET, MTV in the day time, good financial moves to where wed tie and and we can network with people like Sean Combs and T.I. [click to read] and begin doing collaborations like Keyshia Coles been able to do. Then well go to the next level. Once we get accepted in the mainstream world [with] our underground flavor.
DX: You did the major label thing with Hustle Continues years ago, is that a route youd be willing to take again if given the opportunity?
San Quinn: Im about counting my money and making money. Whatever is gonna give me the right exposure and the right deal, and talk the right numbers with me, its all negotiable.
DX: I heard youve gotten involved with a skateboard company as well
San Quinn: Yeah I got a skateboard coming out. Well, I had one out with my album cover [from] The Rock, on there you still can order that from FTC. Now Im about to put my new album cover on there because I got white boy fans around the world that ride skateboard. Shit, why not ride the San Quinn skateboard. Black kids! We need more exercise in the ghetto anyway. Im seeing kids riding skateboards and if I can sell 40,000 records, I can sell 20,000 skateboards. Maybe a million once it gets to that level. In San Fransisco its diverse like that, so I tapped into it.
DX: What other projects are you working on?
San Quinn: Just Boy To A Man. We aint talking about nothing else. Go get A Boy To A Man and Go get Welcome To Scokland. Go do that and then hopefully youll call me for another interview.