“God works in mysterious ways,” says emcee GQ referring to his journey from basketball to rap when he thought he had it planned out all the way to the NBA. Now a fully fledged member of 9th Wonder’s Jamla Records roster, Quentin “GQ” Thomas was born and raised in Oakland, California and attended the University of North Carolina to play basketball – then found his way to the microphone.
After a failed tryout for the LA Lakers basketball team, due in part to various knee surgeries, GQ recalls his first meeting with Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder. “My knee was bothering me again and I wound up having to have surgery again. So while I was in LA and I didn’t make the team – that’s when 9th called me. A good friend of his had told him about me.
“After he hit me up I went back to North Carolina from LA and gave him a CD of some old stuff that I had recorded with some friends, just playing around.” Admitting that while he knew about 9th [“I had heard his name on everything"], “I just didn’t know what his face looked like. [So] I did my research and background checks, and [in the end] I was like, ‘If I hand him this CD he’s not gonna like it. He’s worked with everybody.’ But surprisingly he loved it.”
Earning a spot on the NBA Live 10 video game soundtrack alongside David Banner, the joint “S.P.I.T.” was the beginning for the young upstart as far as his Jamla conception goes. “It’s a blessing,” he exclaims. “I did a song with him on the video game and then after that it was just like… Jamla. You know?” Since then GQ’s released a mixtape titled Trouble Man through Jamla. “It was definitely a collective participation,” he describes the conception of the tape.
Like so many from the west GQ [who got his name from past team mates who believed him nonchalant and laid back like the magazine] grew up listening to the likes of 2Pac and Snoop Dogg, as well as Game. Outside of his State he lists Biggie, Jay-Z and Andre 3000 as inspirations. “I always try to study music and study artists,” he admits. “Then I try to add that to my craft. I just want to be a better emcee, a better artist even.”
The Jamla family have made GQ feel at home since his arrival. “If I didn’t have that vibe or atmosphere around me I’d probably not want to do music,” he reflects. “But since day one [9th Wonder’s] literally been like another father figure, or another brother, or a cousin. That’s why I call him big homie – because he has a family and he has his job, yet still he takes care of us and helps us reach our goals and dreams.”
With his debut album due on March 23rd, GQ’s upcoming project Death Threats & Love Notes was inspired by the balance between good and bad. Possessing the skills and wit to win over even the most obsessed hip-hop enthusiast, the California rhymer with a deep love for both music and basketball is definitely on the right team with the right coach, with a debut project that could score high.