Saturday, February 6, 2010
In the pack of Pittsburgh's new school hip-hoppers, few are as versatile as MC Jon Quest. Three stints in the Rhyme Cal MC Competition have helped to craft this artist into a well-rounded MC. Local respect has earned this MC nominations for Lyricist of the Year and Underground Artist of the Year in the 2010 Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Awards. Jon Quest hopes to continue his progression with multiple releases on deck for this year.
Rory Webb: What are you goals and aspirations as a person and emcee?
Jon Quest: My goals as an emcee are to simply put out good, quality music and to deliver a good mixtape to the people, as my introduction into the Pittsburgh Hip Hop scene. As a person, my goals/aspirations that are separate from my music are to finish college and graduate, and to just be the best the person that I can be as father, student, human, emcee, worker... whatever it may be. It's been going on for quite some time already so I'm' just going to continue the cycle.
RW: What do you consider to be your greatest strength and weakness as an artist?
JQ: That's a dope question right there. Truthfully, I feel that my greatest strength is my lines. I saw some things that I've never heard anyone say before, which is good because a lot of lines get recycled with rhyming in different forms and etc. My weakness would be my stage presence, in my opinion. I've only rocked the stage a few times, but I've been going to a lot of open mic’s lately to correct that. It'll come over time I guess, ha.
RW: You've been a participant in Rhyme Calisthenics 6, 7, and now 8. What has the competition taught you about emceeing and how have you developed as an artist since your first Rhyme Cal appearance?
JQ: The competition actually taught me a lot about emceeing. When I write a song, I'm always thinking of wild concepts to keep me out of that box of the normal topics you hear emcee’s rhyme about. Rhyme Calisthenics will have you rhyme about anything, at any given moment, which definitely helps out your writing skills, thinking process, and creativity. It's played a big part in my emceeing journey, if that's what you want to call it. I will say that when my CD drops in March/April, you will definitely hear that Rhyme Cal experience from beginning to end. I have a wide range of songs for that tape and I’m still not finished.
RW: How has your preparation for the competition changed since your first appearance in Rhyme Cal 6?
JQ: Well, my very first appearance for Rhyme Cal 6, I really just threw myself in a lion’s den, not knowing what's going on. I didn't know any of the emcee’s in Rhyme Cal. Over the past couple one’s, since I've been doing music and getting my name out in the city more, I've become friends with most of the emcee’s, if not all that have been in the Rhyme Cal. And I go to more events as well.
The practice still goes on before Rhyme Cal comes up, but I also feel that I'm more prepared now because I know the emcee’s and the game. The team on Rhyme Cal have been helping me out and showing me love as well, so shout out to James Armstead Brown, Thelonious Stretch and Shade Cobain!!
RW: On the Rhyme Cal wheel there's a category called Cameo. The DJ spins a record and the artist needs to fit theirself into the song, as if they were a guest feature. If you could be on the remix to any song in hip-hop history, what song would it be and why?
JQ: Hmmmmm... that’s a tough one. I might have to say Big L, "Ebonics" ...Big L was and still is a beast, R.I.P. But I've picked “Ebonics” because there's a whole bunch of words now that can easily bring that song back around in 2010, for a part two. It's sad that his life was ended short.
RW: This year will be a busy one for Jon Quest. You are working on your mixtape, "The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest," which is due out by March. What can the people expect to hear on the tape?
JQ: You’re going to hear EVERYTHING on this mixtape. It’s my introduction tape, so I'm really having fun with this and not holding back anything… why would I? Some people may get lost with the things I say, but I just hope the people enjoy it. It's going to have everything from concepts, to your female songs, to your freestyle tracks of just straight bars, all types of stuff man. It's going to be good. The toughest part about it is just picking what is going to make the tape and what’s not going to make the tape.
RW: You've also teamed up with fellow emcee R-Sin to form Dem Suburb Boyz. How did this collaboration come about and how is it different from working on a solo project?
JQ: R-Sin been my homie since High School. I started rhyming with him and a few others, all throughout high school, and we both had similar styles as far as rhyming. We wanted to form a group along the lines of The Cool Kids. When you hear the name, Dem Surburb Boyz, people will be thinking, "Oh these guys are gonna be trash, they can’t rhyme." But just wait ‘til we touch the mic, in my opinion The Cool Kids are like that.
Also, we picked the name Dem Suburb Boyz because we have moved all around the city, and just happened to also live in the suburbs before, but it doesn't mean that we are from there. People get that idea twisted when you say you live in a certain area.
The differences between doing a solo project and a collaboration… it's a lot different, because I'm the only one who's really getting the shine right now. You can say that I'm trying to open doors for everyone as far as connections too, definitely not forgetting my team. But I choose to take the solo route for a first time go, because it's hard for us to do group stuff all of the time and be on schedule for things. Conflicts as well, we are both busy people, but you'll definitely hear work from us real soon. He will be on my tape.
RW: Final comments?
JQ: I just want to shout out Rory Webb for giving me the opportunity for this interview and also for the love that you've been showing me too fam! Appreciate all of it heavy!
Jon Quest - "This Ain't Captain Save A," from the album Stilltown Vol. II
Ayatollah Jaxx featuring Jon Quest, Beedie, & Dominique LaRue - "I Don't Wanna Know," from the album Nothing Like You Ever Heard
Divine Seven featuring Jon Quest & Beedie - "Shadow Loungin," from the upcoming album DAT Turner
APEX featuring Ayatollah Jaxx, Jon Quest, Living Proofe, & Vaig - "The Cypher II," from the album Struggle City
Listen to Jon Quest's first single, "Emcee University":