We’re sitting in his house on the western outskirts of Atlanta. Plaques of his various hits like “Flex” and “Walk Thru” line the walls leading into a slick home theater. His kids have ample running-around space. He offers me one of a seemingly unlimited supply of pineapple Fanta and a heaping plate of crab legs.
Here Quan is at ease, but over the last year or two fans have started to question whether or not he has upheld that promise to never stop "going in,” as reiterated throughout his five-year streak of mixtapes: I Go In On Every Song, Still Goin In, Still Goin In: Reloaded, I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In, If You Ever Think I Will Stop Goin In Ask RR (Royal Rich), and ABTA: Still Goin In.
The mixtape series ended somewhat quietly near the end of 2015. This was accompanied by a $2 million lawsuit in which Quan claimed underpayment from TIG Entertainment, the label for which all these releases served as platform. “I was eating,” he says of his former label partnership. “I just wasn’t grubbing.” Though he says he appreciates the risk that was taken on him in the first place, he felt his efforts were not properly reciprocated. They settled out of court last summer. “That situation, it scarred me because, like, you gotta think you giving your all for all these songs, but you not being compensated for your all? So now you contemplating like, ‘Give my all again? Why?’ That’ll mess with your mind.”
During the months of litigation, Quan started to talk to other labels. “I’m meeting everybody. Epic. Atlantic. You name ‘em, I met ‘em. But when I went in those buildings everything felt like it was on a paper and they were reading off a teleprompter. It felt read. It didn’t feel natural. We’d all get in this one room and they’re saying ‘Ah, ah, Rich Homie we love you.’ No you don’t. You just know what I’m capable of. You’re just seeing Rich Homie and you seeing these numbers.” Eventually, Quan settled on Motown/Capitol, where he saw the urban department as unsaturated, such that he could really take over that lane and get the attention he needed. “They let me be an artist,” he says, which he has learned to separate from the business-minded side of himself that he says he has since sharpened.
“It was never no bad blood with Thug, it was just on pause. Whenever he wants to press play I want to press play.”
The label situation followed what appeared to the public as a falling out between Quan and Young Thug, with whom he created what many believe to be some of their best work, the 2014 mixtape entitled Rich Gang: Tha Tour Pt. 1. “I think we was in the studio for like 45 days straight working on that,” Quan recalls. As for their relationship now, Quan says, "It was never no bad blood, it was just on pause. Whenever he wants to press play, I want to press play. I wish him the best and he wish the same for me." On the day of our interview, Young Thug had posted a video to his Instagram account in which Quan’s voice appears to be playing in the background, captioned with the title of Thug’s upcoming singing album, E.B.B.T.G. What this could mean for the pair collaboratively remains to be seen.
In person, Quan is exceedingly gracious and humble, going out of his way to make sure I, a stranger, am comfortable. “I’m only Rich Homie when I got a microphone in my hand,” he stresses. “If you see me outside, I’m just Quan. I just do regular things.” He tidies up the house while showering his kids with affection, teaching them how to pronounce the names of luxury watch brands he intends for them to own one day: “Say Audemars” he sounds out. “Say Hublot. Say Rolex.”
He’s a family man, and makes music in his own house. He says his creative mission is to dig deeper into the pain that anyone can hear in his voice. That pain, the hallmark of his music, is as recognizable as ever in his April mixtape release with Motown, Back to the Basics. The title is a departure from the characteristic Goin In series, and, as he suggests throughout our conversation, perhaps it’s the beginning of a new chapter for Quan.