Let’s get the obvious out of the way with a quickness: Rich Quick is a white rapper from New Jersey. Long gone, we hope, are the days where being Caucasian in the rap game matters at all; skilled mic rockers like 3rd Bass’ MC Serch and Eminem took the bite out of that beef ages ago. Hip-hop’s not any one culture’s possession, an idea Quick expressed early on in a Doobie’s meet-up on Monday night. “Hip-hop culture encompasses all cultures,” he says. And with the pretty hefty success of white boys like Macklemore, Mac Miller and Asher Roth, Quick’s ready to put his hat in the ring and have his name tacked on to such a list. With a flurry of shows coming up and an EP prepped to drop on Aug. 20, Quick’s bracing himself for the biggest summer of his life.
His debut, Sad Songz, is a five-track EP Quick recorded at ChopShop studios in Langhorne, and it’s set for distribution through Ben Frank Recordings. It’s a bit of a departure; as you might imagine by the title, these are expressive songs with emotional import, unafraid to reveal a deeper lyrical ambition beyond the easy tropes and stereotypes of hip-hop lyrical content, like expensive cars, cheap girls and designer clothes. Quick’s been gaining momentum over the past few years in a relatively hardcore sub-sector of Philly hip-hop, getting love from both the hood and hip-hop diehards who value how hard you can bring the pain. Still, those looking for a trap-rap record won’t find one. “Sad Songz is just one side of me,” Quick warns. “People are going to be disappointed if they’re looking for a hardcore emcee.” On this one, at least.
The 25-year-old South Jersey native has spent his whole life within spitting distance of Philadelphia and has found himself in “the city” almost every day for years. That 15-minute drive has allowed him to start earning credibility since he first stepped into a cypher in North Philly. And as Quick put it, “If you can’t jump into a cypher, what the hell are you here for?”
Quick’s first official release after unofficial collaborations and mixtapes—his I’m With the DJ collection has helped drum up intrigue and fans—is also the first product of a production relationship with STREECE, the duo of Stress the Whiteboy and beloved local musician Chuck Treece. Quick was a fan of theirs before they found him performing at a Johnny Brenda’s event called Beats & Rhymes, which paired emcees with producers. Stress was in the building to support his little brother, rapper Sev-One, and approached Quick to invite him into the studio. Quick was pumped (and still is) to continue working with the beatmaking duo, and their resultant EP is, indeed, quite nicely produced.
Take “Nice Guy,” for instance, a hype beat that’s a little tropical and dubstep-esque, but in that trip-hop, drum ‘n bass way. It’s a track that has a freshness to it, but isn’t an obvious trend ride. Quick’s aware of trends; you have to be. In the way that he knows Jay-Z’s been setting trends for years (“Jay-Z puttin’ on a button-down shirt changed the game,” Quick says), he’s also pretty sure that Macklemore is not a trend that’s gonna last. He also sees some wholesale theft of the look and style of Slug from Atmosphere, who Quick openly admits has a direct influence on his career—something Macklemore’s never done. But you’ve gotta know what people are feeling.
Macklemore does deserve some credit for getting a hip-hop song about same-sex love on the radio (“Same Love”), but Quick doesn’t like the idea of conscious rap. “Is the rest of hip-hop unconscious?” he asks. “Did Eminem not write songs that were conscious?” Quick definitely doesn’t like the use of words prevalent in hip-hop, namely the n- and f-words. “I find it distasteful myself, so I don’t use it,” he offered. Simple. “Ignorance never prevails. Why would you turn people off like that?” Good point.
But, conversely, being associated with conscious rappers like anyone on Rhymesayers, or, say Talib Kweli—whom Quick’s flow resembles significantly, I suggest to him—isn’t something Philly hip-hop’s rising star is particularly mad at. “Talib’s a huge influence on me,” he admits, “so that’s a huge compliment.”
Sun., July 14, 8pm. $8-$10. The Arts Garage, 1533 Ridge Ave. 215.765.2702. theartsgarage.com
PW's Music Issue 2014