San Quinn: The Mighty Quinn

posted March 13, 2006 12:00:00 AM CST | 3 comments

People gather around a 15-inch flat screen monitor to watch a grainy pirated version of MTVs My Block: The Bay. Momentarily groaning between interludes of crawling bootlegger logos, internet glitches, and screen saver freak-outs, they hang on to every word, praising the gods of TIVO for allowing them to enjoy the episode that debuted the previous night. While the rest of the nation is, without a doubt, wondering if we all really ghostride the whip on the regular, residents of the Bay Area are in silent awe of their newly-famous hometown heroes. A remarkable feat considering that the Bay is finally quiet no longer.

San Quinn enters the building as the episode wraps, and everyone turns around to face him with another set of eyes. Even he seems a little different from 5 weeks prior when his latest album The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds first dropped on February 7. His determined features are now softened with an expression of dignified elation. Every so often, a smile peeks, revealing a set of open-faced gold fronts and a glimpse of the Young Baby Boy we all know and love. Although gracious, at 28-years old, the local rap legend knows that this moment isnt it - its just the beginning.

Ive been gone since the All-Star game, and Im leaving again tomorrow until the 14th to go back on tour, says Quinn of his recent chaotic schedule. Only returning to celebrate his son Zakees 4th birthday on the 15th, hes already been from Sacramento to San Diego and every town in between promoting his new album release. Rapping for fourteen years assures that Quinn is not a stranger to success; entertaining sophomore year at Washington High School in San Francisco when he first got a taste of the limelight. Record-breaking cameo appearances, myriad compilations, and 7 solo albums later, Quinn retains a sense of patience about what is happening when he elucidates his dj vu spanning a decade long. Theres always more to do, you got to stay humble and dont get content, he says. And after seeing himself on MTV, Quinn states, I want to be on TV some more! I want to be on MTV and 106 and Park every day like everybody else get to be. And I looked damn good!

Looking damn good is only a fraction of why this newfound acknowledgement of his immense talent is of sentimental value. Much of the reason why San Quinn, and many other Bay artists enjoy only limited regional success, is that the rest of America doesnt know what they look like at all. The Bay Areas highly metropolitan landscape doesnt yet suffice in terms of maximizing the potential of exposure in the media for local artists. And at $7 per cd sold, the only obviously lucrative solution was the independent hustle.

We at 12,000 last time I checked, Quinn states. We hit Billboard #12 for top independent rap albums and hit four different categories in the first week. In line for the second leg of his tour are Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles twice. This time around, our neighbors to the South are getting hyphy for the bubbling Bay movement. I was at the Congo Room, and they played, I swear, 12 straight Bay songs. They got crumping in L.A. thats similar because we wanna get out of killing and go back to dancing, emphasizes Quinn.

The Fillmore District in San Francisco is swaying to the music again, after surviving cultural drought and gentrification at the hands of city policy. This once-lively jazz epicenter formerly boasted the largest gathering of African-Americans this side of the Mississippi, suffered through Reaganomics, and later, the invention of crack cocaine. The only way to survive was to play the basketball, drug, or rap game. Harsh conditions were breeding ground for homicidal youngsters and others that wanted only to get out of the ghetto. Rap became a way of life for those who chose the latter, although trouble was never too far away. And although many lives were saved because of this legit hustle, two of the Bays greatest soldiers were violently taken from us, Tupac Shakur and Mac Dre.

If Tupac were alive, Id be a millionaire right now! Quinn exclaims. What it is, we need to have our own shit. Because I respect L.A., I respect New York. Thats why all them brothas got heart. We been out here, still pushin. We survived the drought, from when Pac died, to right now. Surviving the 10-year drought from 96 until today, it seems, is the reason that most Bay Area artists are not satisfied with the superficial gratification of recent success. And the dichotomy created by the New Bay vs Old Bay may now be rendered obsolete. A good thing, considering the collective effort the Bay needs to finally push multimillion-dollar record sales across the board.

Aint no Old Bay vs. New Bay. Thats some Willie Lynch shit. Willie Lynch was a man who said I have a fool-proof plan to keep slavery going. It works for every race. Old vs. Young, Light vs. Dark, East vs West, Old Bay vs. New Bay. Locksmith (of Frontline) was just representing a new style and a new way. The old way made them been able to say The Bay. In the Bay, there aint nothing new about it, elaborates Quinn. In fact, the Hyphy Movement is led by individuals considered the second-generation of Bay Area rap leaders E-40, Keak Da Sneak, and the Late Mac Dre who have clocked in almost as many years in the game as Quinn, if not more. Despite the generational difference, these leaders are planting seeds for the future by passing the torch to the third generation of Bay Area rap. And it has already begun to take root.

If you wait too long to put people on, then you get old. Thats how I stay young, says Quinn about his ambition to keep success in the family. Under his leadership is one of the largest gatherings of talent in the Fillmore District at least since its historical jazz heyday. The Commander-In-Chief, so to speak, recruited young rap soldiers in hood to continue the hustle he started, especially since it was JT the Bigga Figga who did the same for him 14 years ago. Amongst those ranks are Ya Boy, Bailey, and Big Rich, who not only attribute their opportunity for success to Quinn, but champion him to finally realize his true potential as a star. I really dont feel like Quinn is passing the torch. He still has it, he just letting me carrying it with him, explains Ya Boy about his older cousin. Everybody in Frisco needs to know that we representing them. We need the people behind us.

As for now, The Mighty San Quinn is playing defense, knowing its the only way to win the game in the long run. With a track record like his, there is little doubt that his experience will lead him astray, especially since his following remains loyal in the push to once-and-for-all put the San Francisco rap President on the map nationwide. We had the ball before and we fumbled. Now Im trying to score the touchdown. And I dont even want to go to the playoffs, I want to win the Superbowl, Quinn clarifies. And we all know that too many years have passed since San Francisco has celebrated a victory of that magnitude. Once again, through San Quinn, the hope lives on.

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