Written By: Bianca Theodore
Rich Homie Quan has been born again, per the title of his new project Rich as in Spirit.
His debut album is not a follow up mixtape promising to “never stop going in.” It is the story of a man who reached the mountaintop only to later meet his valley; a cautionary tale of woe and wisdom, truth and trial.
When Dequantes “Rich Homie Quan” Lamar first burst onto the scene in 2013, he did not come quietly. The young rapper came strapped and ready, releasing a steady stream of hits that dominated the Atlanta streets and the national charts.
But after the monstrous success of singles like Type of Way, Flex, Walk Thru, and a mile-long mixtape saga, the promising MC seemed to have reached his peak.
Lamar became plagued by allegations and litigations, entering a two-million-dollar lawsuit with former label T.I.G. for underpayment. He had a public fallout with longtime collaborator Young Thug, one half of the duo responsible for one of his most popular mixtapes, Rich Gang: Tha Tour, Pt 1.
During the ongoing contractual dispute with T.I.G., his music was legally under siege by the label. From December 2015 to March 2017, any releases were frozen.
It was a long winter. Ever determined, the Atlanta native ended his 18-month silence with the release of a new mixtape, Back to Basics.
But it was in May 2017 that the addled rapper would face his biggest trial yet: 30 years in prison for gun and drug possession. He was detained and arrested, and eventually released on $20,000 bond.
In our exclusive interview, Lamar called that the lowest moment in his life. But he also looks at it as his turning point.
For the past two years, he had bore his cross. He’d been mocked in the court of public opinion, forgotten, abandoned by some who called themselves his most faithful fans and disciples.
But in that jail cell, he found salvation- in himself. He left not as Rich Homie Quan, but as Dequantes; a man rich in life, in heart, and in spirit.
He decided that his next project would not just be a compilation of club bangers, or the hazy life of drugs, money, and girls. That project would eventually become his debut album Rich as in Spirit, and it was anything but.
It was his testimony.
Rich Homie Quan Interview:
Bianca: So first question we can start with the album name itself. Rich as in Spirit is definitely a departure from your other mixtape names and it sets up a different tone. I read about how the name itself came from when you were in prison, so can you talk about what that moment meant to you and why it stuck with you?
Rich Homie Quan: Well to be honest, the moment meant so much when I was jail ‘cuz I felt like that was my lowest point in my life at that time and I ain’t really have no direction as to where I was going. When I got the name [Rich as in spirit] from my cellmate, it just stuck with me. It’s something that never left from me. And I wanted to entitle my first album Rich as in Spirit ‘cuz when he said that line to me in jail, that’s when I felt my life just started to take a turn.
B: I felt that this album sounded like someone who had been through something, but turned around and looked at it and now feels that they’re stronger for it. Can you talk about how all that contributed to the rebirth of Rich Homie Quan?
RHQ: Everything contributed to the rebirth of Rich Homie Quan. Basically what contributed the most was probably after I dropped Flex and I was on my time off, because at that time I couldn’t drop any music since I was in a litigation with my former label. So at that time I’m not dropping a lot of music, I’m frustrated, I don’t even know if I wanna rap anymore. I just used all that, and I put it in my music to make a story about it so people would know what I was going through when I wasn’t dropping no music. I didn’t wanna leave the fans out, in no way or fashion. On this album I wanted all their questions to be answered. However they had been feeling, I wanted to try and answer those [questions] in my music.
B: Yeah and I felt that the album was really personal, like this was your story to tell. So was it purposeful to barely have any other features on it?
RHQ: You know, the purpose of having no features was because [when] I went back to a lot of my favorite artists growing up, my Tupac’s, my T.I.’s, my Fabolous, a lot of their first albums [are] telling their story, and they don’t really have any big features on it because it’s them telling their story. I wanted my album to sound like an album. I ain’t want nobody to say they had to help me to tell my story, because they weren’t there when I was going through those certain types of situations.
B: So what would you say is the overall message of the album was? If you had to sum up your story, what would you say?
RHQ: If I had to sum up my story, it would be to stay full of yourself. Don’t never let nobody tell you something that you already know about yourself. That’s what Rich as in Spirit is basically about. You being full of yourself, knowing who you are, knowing what you want in life, and that’s basically what it’s about. Being content with yourself. Can’t nobody tell you nothing bad about yourself, because you’re so full of yourself.
B: And how’d you get to that point, of feeling like you were rich in spirit? Cuz that sounds like a journey.
RHQ: It’s funny because I got to this point after I spent a lot of money. You know, it’s like after you run out of things to buy, you’re just stuck. That’s when I just turned back to my music, I was just searchin like, what am I gonna do next? I just knew that next I’m just gonna continue to tell my story. Cuz that’s what I was put here for. Even if I wanna venture off into other things I still gotta tell my story.
B: I also read somewhere that you said something along the lines of having “empty spaces” when you’ve run out of things to buy. What did you fill those empty spaces with, besides your music? What kept you going and gave you fulfillment?
RHQ: It just be more like long term. I look at it like I’m sacrificing now, so when I reach 40 I can just chill so my kids can reap the benefits. I’m full of my family. I got my family to fulfill those other needs for me, like my children. Knowing that they’re the future, that I got someone else to pass the torch to. Having somebody that look up to me; outside of my children, even just peers around me.
B: Speaking of peers, you’ve had a lot of success early on. On a couple different songs you said things like, “not selling your soul for money”, “not going Hollywood”, and that you never changed on the song Changed. So how did you stay humble, in the midst of all the different things u were seeing?
RHQ: I stay humbled by keeping my circle small, keeping my circle tight, keeping yes men far away from me. Most importantly, just staying true to myself. Knowing that hip hop is in the state that it’s in, with the evolving [of it], I just wanna stay true to myself. That’s all- not even just staying true to my fans, but staying true to myself.
B: What were you trying to say the music industry and to those that doubted you? Cuz you’ve been through a lot in the last few years.
RHQ: I was trying to let them know that I hadn’t went nowhere. I’m still the same me. I’m older, I’m wiser now. Of course I’m not perfect, we all make mistakes. At the end of the day I’m an artist who make good music and this is what I’m here for: to make good music, and hopefully I can inspire the youth, in a good way. In a good way.
B: That was something I wanted to touch on too, because you said the state of hip hop has evolved or changed. What do you mean by that, and what state would you say it’s in now?
RHQ: When I say that, I don’t wanna make it seem like I’m flexin’ on nobody or any artist, but music is just not the same; the message, the moral. I think that hip hop is more EDM [focused], more beats. It’s more of a sound opposed to feelings, if that makes any sense.
B: I felt that in your album too, it was really stripped back.
RHQ: Exactly, yeah because I wanted it to be more of a feeling than a sound. Because when I hear a certain type of song I want it to move me. I want to be able to feel it opposed to hear them, because I can feel them forever. I’m only gonna hear it for however long the duration of the song is, you feel me?
B: Yeah I feel you, that’s deep. So if you want somebody to not just hear you, but to feel you past when your album is done playing, what’s that feeling that you want to them to stay with?
RHQ: I just want them to stay rich. I just want them to stay telling their story like I told [mine]. Even when I’m telling my story I want you to feel like you’re telling your story. So when I’m making those songs, I’m really making them more like third person, because I want the songs to feel like they’re your songs. So when you listen to the song, I just want you to feel like you’re relieved, like you just got a burden [taken] off your back. I want you to feel like you’re complete with yourself after you listen to my songs.
B: You were talking about how you wanna give that positive message to the youth. What do you want them to do with that?
RHQ: I want them to run with it, take it, and let it multiply. At the end of the day, I feel like coming up I just didn’t feel like I had anyone who was talking to me directly, to the young people. When I was coming up I felt like the young people were just trying to talk to the older people in the music. Now you got the older people trying to talk to the young kids, and I just don’t feel like I had that coming up. If you got someone who’s taking advantage of that, giving you the game, telling you how to save your money, telling you [that] you ain’t gotta be putting on… I’m just trying to help the black community.
B: Yeah, we definitely need it. You sound like you’re preaching, talking about “let it multiply.” Where did that come from?
RHQ: it just comes from not wanting to broke again, I done been there before. Now it’s just like multiplying everything, I don’t wanna be broke again. I wanna be rich forever, and in order to be rich forever, you gotta multiply. You gotta give people chances. I don’t wanna be a rapper forever. I’m trying to open other outlets and opportunities just for any individual who really want it.
B: So [since] you’re saying that you don’t wanna be a rapper forever, where do you see yourself in ten years? What are you trying to accomplish, other than music?
RHQ: I don’t know other than music, I just know I wanna touch the culture the [best] way I can. I could see myself writing books, writing movies, whatever I can, just having my hand on the culture. It don’t have to be hip hop. I just wanna be hands on with the culture. Ten years from now I guess I just see myself having a big voice.
B: Yeah I think that you’re gonna have that. Speaking of movies, I saw that there were talks of a documentary for the album. Can you talk to me about that?
RHQ: The documentary basically gets in-depth with who Dequantes is opposed to Rich Homie Quan. DeQuantes is just me, that’s my government name. You got interviews from my mom, people who been close to me. Interviews from artists, people like Jacquees on there, my former label, a lot of radio people in Atlanta who were there. And it just basically gets in depth as a person, like where I wanna go, where do I see myself in the next ten years. It just basically shows you my outlook on the culture.
B: And so, why did you feel that you needed to do a documentary, do you think that people still don’t know the actual you behind Rich Homie Quan?
RHQ: It’s not even [that] a lot of people don’t know who Rich Homie Quan is, I think a lot of people just have a lot of misconceptions. People got a lot of things misconstrued. I just want the people to get things from my point of view. Let them know the things I did and how I was feelin when I did it, because every action has a reaction.
B: Considering that now you’ve been through all these trials, and that the last few years have been rough, switching labels and so on and so forth, would you say that you’re better for it? Would you trade it at all?
RHQ: Of course I wouldn’t trade it, because it made me the man I am today. But if I could do some things over, or differently, of course I would. But it’s the hand I was dealt- I’m proud of my hand. I stand behind my hand. Like I said I’m not perfect. There’s a lot of messed up things I have done, but hey, that’s what makes me who I am.
B: Yeah, you seem comfortable with who you are now.
RHQ: Yeah for sure, definitely.
B: So tell me about the tour that’s coming up. What should people look forward to, are you excited, what’s different about this one?
RHQ: Awh man of course I’m excited. What’s diff about this tour? This is the first tour in states I’ve had where I’m selling tickets and I’m headlining my own tour, where I’m not part of nobody else’s. This will be like the first long tour I have, more than 35 dates. So Im very excited. What can people be expecting? Like I always say, you can expect me to tell my story, you can definitely expect me to be having fun, you can definitely expect excitement, you can definitely expect me being content with myself. We letting ya’ll see another side of me that people haven’t seen. Overall, just me having fun.
B: And so what’s next for you from here? Where do you go from telling such a personal story and really getting some things off your chest; what’s after that?
RHQ: Next I just wanna drop an EP, have like 10 spring club bangers, and get back to [telling] my story later.
B: Is there anything else you wanna add?
RHQ: Naw, I just wanna tell the people to go get Rich as in Spirit, everywhere on all distributing platforms.