With his debut EP, STYHPPY, out today, Atlanta rapper QNCY speaks from the nuanced perspective of an artist who has broken free of a creative block. Based out of Austell, Ga., QNCY has music in his blood — his grandfather was a jazz bassist who performed in various combos throughout the ’70s Although he got his start as part of Real Reflection, a local hip-hop collective that also included producer Benny Jetts and rapper T’Naire, it wasn’t until he turned solo that he began to form his own musical identity. The following conversation is not only an illuminating look into QNCY’s artistry, but a broad-lens perspective of the direction of music today — and how an amalgamation of influences and personal experiences helped shape the youth’s creative expressions.
Who are you?
Where are you from?
I’m from Atlanta — born in Hartford, Connecticut.
What made you want to stylize your name as QNCY?
Well, I wanted to use my real name as an artist so I can be as vulnerable as possible with my music. Taking the “U” and the “I” out with all caps just makes it look cool.
What are some of the things you talk about on your album?
I talk about self love, not letting people stop your vision, relationships between people, my relationship with police, having to roll with the punches just to be OK, and paint.
What inspired you this time around?
Well, I am blessed to record with my team every day if I want. Working off of my friends’ energy makes it really easy to create, and they inspire me a lot. I was really stuck trying to find a place to record. Me and a few members of my group, Shifu and Zosa, were rapping at a park and another member of our team, TK, saw us and starting rapping too. That’s were we met. Since then, I got to know his brothers Illy and Script, who are very talented I might add. All of us are talented by the way. These past few months, we’ve became like brothers. We all have the same goal and we all work hard every day. It’s been the most beautiful thing life has offered to me, I promise. That was a lot but I had to add that in.
What do you love about the music industry right now?
I have been sleeping on the industry the past two months because I’ve been doing me. But I’m a real fan of honest music. And 2016-2017 to me has been giving us a lot of honesty. So I appreciate that.
What do you hate about the music industry right now?
Man. A lot. When it comes to new artists being authentic, nobody really tries to help. People sit there and think numbers matter more than the music itself. I hate how artists think getting signed means you made it. The only way I would sign to anything if it’s 100% in my best interest. Music is a form of expression… these last few years I’ve been working for companies feeling like I’m being controlled. Now that I’m back doing music, I feel free. But, if any label ever tries to control my expression, I don’t know what I’ll do.
What’s your earliest memory of music?
Fuck, I feel ashamed to say, [but] Bow Wow when he did that “hair nappy but I’m happy, pocket full of dough” song. “Fresh Azimiz” is still one of the hardest songs ever.
What’s your latest memory of music?
There’s this song I just made yesterday called “Are You OK?” It’s not going to be on this project. It’s my favorite song right now. It’s about a friend of mine that I seen yesterday. I know I have feelings for her but I don’t say anything. She’s going through a lot of problems in life. I want to be the super hero and make sure she’s OK… but, I know she’s independent. So, I express it in music. It’s amazing to me.
If you could make a song with any living artist, who would that be and why?
Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean, K. Forest, et cetera, but those are the main three that I felt like saying right now. Their latest albums are phenomenal to me.
What’s your recording process like?
For the most part I’m high when recording. But mostly I like to record alone so I can get into my world.
What’s your writing process like?
I like to write in secluded areas. Like in my room or in my car. I think a little bit more when I’m rapping. When I’m doing melody, I just let my fingers type and go off of what I feel.
Do you look up to anyone in music?
Pharrell, Tyler, Childish Gambino. Wholeheartedly, those are the top.
What are your thoughts on Atlanta’s music scene today?
It’s beautiful. Atlanta can never fall off.
What’s next after this album?
Video for “Pisces.” Another project in the summertime. I’m going to hurt people’s feelings… Benny Jetts.