Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Artist Interview: Qwazaar (of Typical Cats)

 Yesterday I was blessed with some time with Chicago legend Qwazaar, foot soldier for Chicago giant Galapagos4 and member of the legendary Typical Cats crew. He gave some info about future collaborations with his current partner, Batsauce, and the timetable for a brand new Typical Cats album. Check it out.

Me: What part of Chicago did you grow up in? (I'm from Portage Park area btw)

Qwa: I grew up on the low end. 29th and state in the dearborn homes on the southside of Chicago. But I used to hang out a lot on 36th and Michigan, 38th & Praire or 71st.

Me: How has growing up in Chicago influenced your craft?

Qwa: Chicago just has always been a dope place for music historically. Most of the artists
that I meet from Chi have Parents or Uncles or someone who was involved with music in some way. My pops was in a band back in the day and still makes music now and when I look at myself I definitely see his influence. Also, I think being from Chi and living there I feel I had the advantage of never being left out as far as being introduced to new music from all over. Everything passes through Chicago but if you live all the way out east, there might be something new popping off heavy in the bay that will never trickle down your way. It effects my approach because well aware that there are a million and 1 ways to hit a beat. And I guess the last impact the chi has had on me, being from more of the lyricist/emcee circle and age, is that I'm a heavy critic, most Chicagoans are. We're the last ones to give the thumbs up to anything on most occasions. So if you want the respect of your Emcee peers then you work hard. Which is what I do.

Me: Who was your favorite act from Chicago growing up?

Qwa: The pickings from Chi were slim when was coming up as far as cats that were really visible enough to put them in a permanent position at the top of a list. Most of the cats that I got into from Chi never really blew up anywhere outside of here. Ace G, Qualoheem, Nightmare & Venom, Ill-State Assassins, D 2tha S. I liked common's joint when it dropped but I was still heavy into evil raps about razor blades, gods, tetrahedrons & motherships.

Me: How did you first hook up with Galapagos4?

Qwa: I didn't officially hook up w/ G4 until we started thinking about putting out a real album with Typical Cats and that was via Qwel. Around the late 90's to early 2000's we'd all cross each others paths either at radio stations or record stores or somewhere. I remember bumping into Offwhyte, one of the co-founders of Galapagos4 at a radio station on the southside while promoting the Blackbook Sessions release while I was up there promoting the first Outerlimitz album. When I think about it, most of the artists and music folk that I've worked with over the last 10 yrs are from that period of 99-01.

Me: Last year, you released a collaboration album with producer Batsauce. What about Batsauce's production or artistic qualities made you want to collaborate for a full album?

Qwa: Drums, Drums & Drums, Bass and Swing. If you master that then you immediately get my attention. I had a bunch of half written songs in my head.. meaning I had a vague outline and idea of the sound that I wanted.. but up til that point before I heard Batsauce I still hadn't found the right production to bring out the rest. When I had my first official sitdown w/ Bat and he played the instrumentals to If it seems wrong and chop em down, the rest of the songs finally came out. The songs came so easy. It felt like the most natural thing to do.

Me: Are you 2 planning on a follow up?
Qwa: Most certainly. Barring any unforeseen tragedy, this is something we're planning to keep going for a long time. We've already gathered up a good chunk of production for the next one and I already have the outlines for a bunch of songs.

Me: You're also a member of the legendary Typical Cats along with Denizen Kane and Chicago legend Qwel. I'm going to throw out all professionalism aside for a moment and say the crew's classic debut album is without a doubt my favorite album of all time. How does it feel to contribute in making the best underground Chicago hip-hop album of all time?

Qwa: That's probably debatable but i'll co-sign that. Seriously though,
 to have something that I was apart of mentioned in that conversation is a great feeling. I'm fortunate to be wise to the music industry game, but there's a part of me, maybe the kid in me, that still holds tight to the vision that I had of hiphop growing up and the parts that really meant something. Everybody wants to rule the world of course but also one of the things that I always wanted was to leave a permanent or significant imprint in the Chicago hiphop scene. Juice's "Freestyle or Written". All Natural's "50 Years Down the Line". And now I have that with Typical Cats and i'm well aware of how fortunate I am. I remember me and my friends debating about who was the best in the city and talking about Juice being a legend and reading about All Natural in the Source. And now all these years later we're getting mentioned in the same light. I feel blessed.

Me: I know you guys have been playing shows recently, but are you guys working on anything new?

Qwa: The new Typical Cats album is pretty much done. It's in the mixing stages now and should be ready to drop hopefully when the summer hits. A lot of these shows we've been doing have been coupled w/ weekend and week long recording and building sessions.

Me: Why such a long hiatus between the last album, Civil Service, and now?

Qwa: There's a few different reasons. I've been thinking a lot about time recently and i've come to the conclusion that when you're an artist, time flows a little differently for you than other ppl. The whole process of writing, recording, touring and promoting different projects and balancing all that out with your day to day life. 5 months can seem to melt into 1 long day. But we've all had a lot on our own plates that we had to clean before we could really get to doing some more TC. Raising kids, getting married, running youth organizations, school, solo careers. Social work, international grinds and heavy weed smoking all played their roles in the delay. But the good news, is that we didn't force it.. it happened when it was meant to happen. And I can tell that it was meant to happen now just by how seamless it all came together at this point.

Me: How do you feel about the state of the current Chicago hip-hop scene? 

Qwa: Chicago is good to go! The artists who were already running it before I got in, like Capital D and the Molemen are still some of the best in Chi that reinforce the fact that there is no such thing as falling off if you don't want to. The artists who I came in with around the same time are veterans and have built their own franchise and doing quality work. And the young cats took notice and ran with it as they should, cause they have all the opportunity in the world. bboy scene seems to be thriving. I can't speak for every aspect of the culture but I have to think overall we're doing well.

Me: In the liner notes of the Typical Cats self-titled CD, there is a shoutout to Tone. Is Tone a graff writer? If so, I'm pretty sure that is my uncle.
Qwa: Aww snap.  I'm not sure about that but i wouldn't be surprised if it is. We gotta get Qwelly to verify that one but if he does, then that might verify some ages..

Me: One last question. If someone was to ask you "Who the hell is Qwazaar and why should I listen to him?", what would you respond with? 

Qwa: I'm the illest Emcee you could ever hope to smoke with, and you should listen because i'm honest.

Me: Again, thank you so much for your time. You, Qwel, and Kane are some of my biggest idols. Good luck to everything you do in the future.

Qwa: Thank you and Oh.Globe for the support, strong love and light. Keep spreading that light on artists and good people who deserve it. Who are honest, creative and passionate about what they do. Stay Blessed!

Qwazaar's Website: http://www.qwazaarmusic.com/

Follow Qwazaar on Twitter: @QWAZAAR

Like Qwazaar on Facebook here

Buy Qwazaar and Batsauce's album Bat Meets Blaine here



Nice picture dude.

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