I recently had the opportunity to interview Q Parker from the RnB group 112. Currently, Q’s working on his first solo album, The MANual, and releasing a 2012 fitness calendar. I wanted this interview to be focused on three parts of Q’s career: the beginning, the present, and the future.
At that time did you understand the importance or the relevance of 112’s music?
I’m not going to say in the beginning I understood because we were just doing what we loved to do. We just wanted to sing. We just wanted to touch people with our music and through our music. So to answer that original question, no we didn’t understand the relevance and what we were really doing. As time went on and we started to see the response that we were getting, the support that we were getting from people it really started to sink in like, hey guys we’re really doing something in a major way because a) we were selling records b) we were selling out our concerts and no matter where we showed up, no matter where we went the people came out in droves so that let us know that we were doing something good. Once we really caught on we realized that we had to uphold and remain consistent because people had started to expect so much from us.
How was it working with the great Bad Boy talents like Faith, Biggie and Puffy?
That part of our career was like…I can’t put it into words. It’s so hard because for us to be signed to Bad Boy at that time Puff could do no wrong and no matter who and what he put out it was destined for success. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to be ushered into the industry by way of The Notorious B.I.G. rapping on our first single because what that did, it validated us. Him being on our record was like saying, ‘if BIG vouched for these guys, then I’m gonna support them.’ With the way Puffy introduced us to the industry, along with Faith, Carl, Total, Craig and BIG it was just phenomenal. To be apart of that first five was amazing.
Tupac or Biggie?
Of course B.I.G. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a Tupac fan as well but if you ask me either or it’s B.I.G. all day.
Can you talk about 112’s split with Bad Boy records?
We signed in ’95 and our first album came out in ’96 and our original contract after three albums was up. We had fulfilled our obligations from the original contract and we became free agents. At that time we asked Puffy what kind of deal he had for us. The deal he presented to us was a lot less than what was offered to us outside of Bad Boy. When I say a lot less meaning financially, the terms, creative control and at that point we realized we deserved a lot more and as men we had fulfilled our original contract no matter how bad it was and we just felt like we had established a relationship with Puffy to where he would acknowledge that fact that we had done so much together. When the deals came in, Def Jam just gave us the better deal and as men who were now grown men at the time with different responsibilities we had to do what was best for us and not so much for Bad Boy.
When you guys first came out they sent you on 18 months worth of tours with acts like Janet, Whitney and the Isley Brothers. What were some of the things you learned from them?
For us we were very blessed and very fortunate because the first five tours that we were on were with legendary artists. Keith Sweat, Isley Brothers, Whitney Houston, New Edition and then Janet Jackson. With every one of those tours we just learned and absorbed so many things because we’re dealing with legends. I think what it did was instilled in us a drive, a work ethic because you gotta understand, a lot of those times, especially in the beginning days, they never knew about us, so we had to work hard to actually gain their respect and approval. Back then, if the opening act wasn’t good they would boo you or walk out on you so it was a task for us to captivate an Isley Brothers crowd. We became more and more confident and it became a piece of cake because we learned so much from watching them every night. By time we got to Janet Jackson we were unstoppable.
On Twitter about a year ago, you said “In the studio with my boys. New 112 album coming soon” Is there a new album?
As it stand right now there is not a 112 album in the works. I would never rule out another 112 album because I believe that we will do another one. The timing just has to be right.
You’re pretty active in social media. You have your twitter account, Qversions on Youtube, Qstream on Ustream – why did you start being so active?
We said we have to brand Q Parker because a lot of people know the group 112 but outside of Slim, some may know Q, some may know Daron, some may know Mike but we want people to really know who Q Parker is. My manger asked ‘Q what are some of the things you like to do?’ of course you know I like to sing so she said ‘okay, we gon do a new album’ she said, ‘what else do you like?’ I’m into health and fitness. I love working out. She said, ‘okay, we’ll do a fitness calendar’ And from then, we had a conversation were I was just talking about how I love singing other people’s songs and when I hear a hot song on the radio I’m mad at myself because as a song writer I’m thinking like mehn why didn’t I come up with that? Or as a singer, I’m saying mehn, if that was my song then I would sing it like this! That’s how the Qversions came around. It’s my way of showing respect to the artist that originally did the record. It’s not like I’m trying to out do them, or trying to do their records better than them but I like the record enough to sing it. It’s allowed people to get to know me as a singer and get to know me vocally because in 112 your in a group that’s equally talented. I get ¼ of the video, I get ¼ of an interview, I get ¼ of the record, I get ¼ of everything so unless you were the guy in the front you really didn’t know much about each one of us individually. The Qversions allows people to really get into me vocally. The Qstream allows my fans to connect with me just on a normal day. I’m just an average down to earth guy. I’m cool – I like to be personable while I’m talking and I like to be engaging over the Qstream. I like to be informative.
Elaborate on the Fitness Calendar
The fitness calendar came because I love working out and I love monitoring and knowing what’s going on with my body and I took it upon myself to educate and motivate through the fitness calendar because as African Americans we come out of the womb fighting a lot of disadvantages: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol. If I can do the smallest thing by motivating people or educating people about what they’re eating and how they’re treating there body then I want to do my part. If someone looks at my calendar and it motivates them to go to the gym - then job well done Q.
I read that part of the proceeds go to breast and prostate cancer. Why are those foundations important to you?
With the calendar I wanted to make sure that we gave back. It hit home. My grandmother and an aunt of mine had breast cancer, they survived it. My father survived prostate cancer. So for me, it was a no-brainer to donate to the American Cancer Society.
What do you see are the pros of a celebrity being so vocal on social media?
It’s the new music industry. Back in the day a label pretty much did it all. They marketed you, they promoted you, they publicized you, and they moved you around. But in today’s industry with the likes of myspace, facebook, twitter and all these other social networks, that’s the new music industry. The thing that I love about it is, for a long time there was a line drawn between the fan and the artist and there was just so close to an artist you can get, but with social media you can feel like, ‘I know Q, not only do I like his records but the dude’s cool.’ So everyone that comes to my Qstream, when they cut it off I want them to be like, yo not only is he a nice artist but the dude is just cool. Because my mission is, I need you and I want you to get to know Q Parker the individual, the songwriter, the producer, the man. Which is how my album came up “The MANual” I just really want people to know who I am as a man. You guys have watched me grow up from 17 years old to now my early 30s. It’s important for you to know who the man, Q Parker is.
Your first solo studio album is The MANual. What’s it about?
The MANual is like a how-to guide from my perspective how a man and how woman should be treated from a man. It’s important to let you know that there are still some gentlemen out here, chivalry isn’t dead. We can talk about intimacy without it always just being sex but from a mental and emotional standpoint. It’s just my take on how [women] should be treated and how you should demand to be treated from these guys out here. I think when you listen to the composition of The MANual you’re going to get moments were I’m allowing you to see me vulnerable as a man, see me strong as a man, see me sensitive, and not be afraid to let you in on all of those characteristics of me.
The new single, Show you How, sounds very 112ish
You can’t help but to hear the 112 sound from my voice. That’s my voice. The new single goes to radio in January.
Any features on the album?
Yes my sister Faith Evens is on one of the tracks. So far that’s the only feature but I pretty much want to keep it like that unless I do a remix of the single and maybe put a rapper or something on it but it was important for me to allow you guys to know who I am and not be downplayed by having so many features on the album. I want you to get all of Q Parker.
Is the album being distributed independently?
My deal is a partnership with my company NewFam Entertainment and Malico Records. Malico is a major independent so they are an independent record company but they operate as a major. For me, it’s the perfect situation because it’s not jus the typical artist deal. I’m actually part owner of my own record, which for me is great. I have creative control, I have a say in how it moves, it’s not like I’m just the artist. In every sense of the word, it’s a true partnership and it’s just the best situation for me.
If hindsight was 20/20 what would you say to your former self at 17?
I would say to myself; be patient, learn all that you can, keep you eyes open, listen to the people you put in a position to advise you, and just focus on you and what you can do to better you and your group.
What does Q Parker’s future hold?
In 2012 I want to make sure Q Parker is a household name. It’s important to me to bring up the brand Q Parker and my company NewFam Entertainment. I want to have a multiplatinum album. I want to top the charts. And I want to continue building on the legacy that I’ve already built with 112.
At the end of my interview’s I usually have a Rapid Fire segment. So, let’s go:
Music is…everything to me. It’s the blood that goes through my veins. It’s what keeps me alive.
If I only had one song on my iPod it would be…a Gospel song
If I wasn’t a singer/performer I would be…a professional athlete
The most important thing in my life…Family andGod
I look up to…the man upstairs
Check out the very social media friendly QParker on Twitter@QParker112, on FacebookQparker Music, on YouTube at QParkersings, and his Fitness Calendar atQparkerFitnessCalendar.com