It’s not everyday that you get to speak with a certified record breaker, but that is exactly what we were able to do when we spoke with QQ last week. With QQ being the youngest artiste to ever top the Billboard charts in Jamaica with ‘Poverty’ which was released when he was just 10 years old.
QQ is a certified hit maker with hits stretching back to 2004, he is seen as a veteran of the industry by many despite only being 24. With international hits like ‘One Drop’, ‘Stookie’ and ‘Tip Pon Yuh Toe’, QQ definitely knows how to make hit dancehall tracks.
Get ready to dive deep into QQ’s career, as we discuss hit his roots, the effect of his success during his school days, the international reception of ‘One Drop’, his aims for 2019 and much more.
So for those that don’t know, where do you originate from in Jamaica?
QQ- “I was born in Marvalley, but moved to the UK at a tender age. I began singing whilst I was in the UK, performing with the local choir”
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
QQ- “At age 9 I decided I wanted to have a career in music. I told my dad I want to do music and he decided to take me back to Jamaica, with the main aim at that time being to develop my career.
So this decision was made whilst you were still living in the UK, did you ever try and record music whilst you were still living there?
QQ- “No, I never recorded in the UK, the first time I recorded properly was back in Jamaica”
Within a year of returning to Jamaica, you release your record breaking single ‘Poverty’, how did that effect your outlook on your career?
QQ- “At first, it was a real wow moment, everybody knowing the song and everybody, especially young people, looking up to me.
You can also get caught in ‘wild imagination’ and lose face of reality and get caught up in that wow moment”
When you first began recording music, you were you main influences?
QQ- “At such a young age, I looked up to artists like Michael Jackon, Bob Marley, Gregogy Isaacs and Dennis Brown.
At a young age I just really loved melody and that was something these artists provided and mastered”
Many artists that had success at such a young age like yourself often take breaks from recording music and then come to music when they are older, did you ever take such a break in your career?
QQ- “I never took a long break from recording music, but would take breaks during exams at school, which lasted a couple months.
I just wanted to focus on getting my education and learning important subjects”
What was your experience of being a successful artiste and still going to school like?
QQ- “I mean it was definitely good, let’s just say the girls were all mine. I was the only youth that was really doing music in a big way at the time.
Unfortunately, I went to an all boys high school, which really grounded me, it meant I was able to keep being persistent and stay focused without getting distracted”
You came into music performing as a Reggae artiste with singles like ‘Poverty’ and ‘Better Must Come’, when did you decide to make the transition into dancehall?
QQ- “I wanted to make music that would resonate well with the youths. My first attempt at dancehall, was recording on the ‘Crazy Frog’ song that was popular in the UK, I was really trying to go for a kid friendly vibe.
After that first attempt, I got the beat for ‘Stukie’ and continued making music with that sort of vibe”
Do you still think there is a market in Jamaica for more child friendly dancehall?
QQ- “Definitely, it was definitely something I tried to deliberately pursue. Jamaican youths consume music a lot, but as artistes we have to be careful with the content we are providing, because the kids are consuming the same music that the adults are listening too.
Personally, I’d like to see a big concert with music for the youths being held every year”.
We couldn’t have an interview with you without asking about ‘One Drop’, what was the effect of that single on your career?
QQ- “One Drop’ has a crazy impact on my career, it solidified my place in dancehall, people didn’t see it as a typical dancing song from QQ, it wasn’t subject to any limitations.
We even had Beyonce doing the ‘One Drop’ on tour. It definitely brought attention back to my career”
What are the origins of the ‘One Drop’ dance?
QQ- “I saw a girl doing the dance and it was just something different.
The song itself was originally intended for the ‘Pon Di Jockey’ riddim, but we weren’t able to secure the riddim. So Ricky Bless and Stacious made a riddim for the track.
I did come to found out that the dance was actually already called the ‘Trap Setter'”
Did you notice a change in your audience after the release of the Major Lazer remix of ‘One Drop’?
QQ- “It pushed my music to a different audience, that might not already be listening to reggae or dancehall.
I’ve gone into clubs where I wouldn’t have expected dancehall to be playing and heard the remix of ‘One Drop’ playing”
What have you learnt about the music industry having lived in both America and Jamaica?
QQ- “The US is more disciplined, it’s taught me that I have to pace myself, work on one single at one time and feed people with it. The differences don’t bother me much, I’ve always had a different taste and have always been open to different opportunities”.
What moment really stuck out for you in 2018?
QQ- “Releasing ‘Whisper’ it was something people weren’t expecting, an explicit song from QQ, being a really good song at the time and a good song that people can relate too. It really got me back into being more serious about making music”
What has the reception for your latest single ‘Boom’ been like?
QQ-“With ‘Boom’ more than ever, a lot of females have been engaging me in a more personal level. I’ve been trying to develop a closer connection with the fans”
Was the hostage scenario in the video for ‘Boom’ your own idea?
QQ- “The concept was originally brought to me by the director. At first part of it I didn’t understand, it wasn’t until I was sent the video from KD visuals that it all made sense”.
One final question, what are your aims for 2019?
QQ- ” I am looking at doing an EP right now, I just need to make sure that I am in a comfortable position when I release it. Just expect a lot more singles and more videos from QQ”