Hip-Hop, Rap Interviews : San Quinn
Moving from Oakland to San Francisco's Fillmore district at the age of three, San Quinn would come to prominence following in the footsteps of Fillmore legends such as Rappin' 4-Tay and JT The Bigga Figga. After dropping his debut album as a freshman in high school, Quinn would go on to work with Master P, appearing on multiple compilations and releasing three solo albums by the age of eighteen. Pushing units in the Bay Area for years, San Quinn hopes to make a definitive statement with his new album The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds. As the Bay's Hyphy movement continues to pick up steam, the Fillmore MC reflects on his past and talks about putting Northern California back on the Hip-Hop map.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You've been in the rap game for over a decade and you've pushed out a lot of material on the independent tip; what are some of the things that are essential for an artist to succeed without having the big label constantly behind them?
SAN QUINN: You need a good supporting cast with you, definitely; and also people who inspire you to do the right thing. You need a good independent distribution label and you also need to keep your music quality, you dig what I'm saying. Keep your music quality so you could compete with everybody who's on the shelf. Because no matter what, you on the shelf with the best people. You're competing with the majors when you on the shelf so you gotta have your quality control up.
RIOTSOUND.COM: In your view how is San Francisco and the Bay Area perceived as far as the fans go; we know L.A. gets a lot of shine but where do you see your city gaining or faltering as far as perception?
SAN QUINN: I think that [people] sleep on the Bay Area, like you said, they just mention Los Angeles. They need to open up their ears and eyes to us ‘cause in the Bay Area we do got our flavor up here. I'm going to say all of Northern California ‘cause up in [Sacramento] they pushing too. I feel like they sleep on us, you know, just like George Bush and all of America sleep. They was asleep on checking people's luggage before 9/11 and then once them planes hit they woke up on it. So don't get no rude awakening sleeping on the Bay.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What would you say are the main difference between Northern California and L.A.?
SAN QUINN: What I'ma say is this: in Los Angeles they gangbang, up here we really is mainly players and pimps. But there's gangsters up here as well, I'm not knocking that type of violent activity. [In the Bay Area] we got the Hyphy movement going. They shaking their dreads, we wearing stunners, we wearing gold teeth and you can wear any color you want up here, we ain't trippin' like that. No disrespect to Los Angeles but that ain't what's crackin' up here. Our music is more like player shit, pimp shit, Hyphy shit. Where in Los Angeles they really into that heavy gang activity, they live it.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Your new album is called The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds; what should the fans expect from this record?
SAN QUINN: The album is dropping February 7th, 2006 and the whole world's gonna stop [laughs]. You can expect this - if you are curious about the Bay Area and you want to find out about the flavor about here, you can tune in to the Quinn. You can tune in to the Quinn and get yourself a double-dose of this shit for real. [The Rock] is a good record. I'm definitely nice when it comes to this rapping shit, without a doubt. So you're going to feel me as far as that and the beats is on point. All I got is shine coming, so if you wanna find out about what's going on, how I'm fuckin' Fillmore living in Fillmore, Northern California – a real rapper out here who's surrounded by gangsters, pimps, hustlers, whores, you dig what I'm saying. We got the independent spirit of rapping out here; I'm a rap hustler, I seal verses for anywhere from $2,500 to $5000, all the way down to $1000. I got it for cheap if you need it. So [on the album], you gonna feel that. The record is quality, and like I said, I'm definitely nice so you gonna get to hear some hard shit.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You are featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for appearing on the most albums out of any rap artist; when did you realize that you held the record?
SAN QUINN: There's a man out here named Billy Jam, I'd like to give a shoutout to Billy Jam, he been doing journalism for like thirty years out here. Him and my good friend Charles Kelly, who back in the days was my manager before he got his deal with Koch Records; they was sittin' around brainstorming one day and they counted up all the records I was on by the time I was 21 years old. After they counted them up they was like – shit, you know what, you might have a world record here. This is before mixtapes though, mixtapes don't get bar coded.
I was on the most bar coded records for somebody who was 21 years old, more than anybody else ever in history. Being that we put out so many records out here; this is the technology capital of America out here in Silicone Valley, there's motherfuckers with studios everywhere, everybody be putting records out. So I ended up being on like 350 records by the time I was 21 - that were bar coded and sold through record stores. This is before mixtapes, ‘cause like I said, mixtapes don't got no barcodes. These is bar-coded albums.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Since you started recording music at a young age, would you say looking back on it there is anything you would have changed or done differently if you had the knowledge you do now?
SAN QUINN: Man, you know what, I'm grateful to be here right now but there are so many things I would change that I don't even know where to start [laughs]. One thing I know is that I would be more assertive about my business and I would have had [better] people around me; and not just through music, ‘cause I knew music people who knew business and were doing business with me. Instead of having a nigga off the streets who sells dope put my record out and then he get indicted and go to jail and then I get audited and all that old shit, I wouldn't do none of that shit and then also inherit all his problems.
I would have dealt with just certain real business people, more than anything. If I could change anything I wouldn't deal with a motherfucker who's trying to make a quick buck off something that I truly love. I truly love Hip-Hop, you see what I'm saying; I'm truly in love with this shit. Not like no backpack motherfucker, I like to hear a hit record; I like to see what Hip-Hop do for niggas, for motherfuckers who ain't got nothing.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What are your future plans as far as Done Deal Entertainment goes?
SAN QUINN: As far as Done Deal Entertainment, I got more records to drop. I'm trying to push this Rock album to platinum possibly. I'ma try to push this record to platinum on the independent level, so I got a while to go. As far as me putting this record out there, I'm looking forward to it but really I'm more concerned about San Quinn becoming a mega-star, you dig what I'm saying. But as far as Done Deal, we looking for new artists that could be hot. I want to make America know who San Quinn and Done Deal is and then I could probably answer that question a little bit better once I make a little more forward progress. I wanna do everything else that every other successful rapper is doing with his company.
RIOTSOUND.COM: For people visiting the Bay Area, where would you recommend they should go?
SAN QUINN: Well, I could tell you where you shouldn't come. Don't come to Fillmore. But where you could go is Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, go eat you some good crab. If you wanna go out to a club or something like that, then hit Broadway. Broadway jumps real hard on Fridays, it's a melting pot for all kinds of cultures and all kinds of different people. You can find you some Hip-Hop, some jazz, or some reggae on Broadway. If you want to see some real Black heritage you can visit Oakland ‘cause out there is where our Black pride is at. If you just want to look at a beautiful view you can hit Treasure Island and just check out San Francisco, the great skyline. And you know you can also catch them 49ers at Candlestick Park.