Q Money doesn't remember when, exactly, he rhymed his first lyrics. His close family says he's been at the rap thing for a while though, even if he stepped into the booth for the first time just a couple of years back.
"They said I've been rapping since I was like 1 [or] 2," the Cleveland rapper says while visiting XXL's Manhattan office. "I made my first song two years ago."
Years before he recorded his first track, Q, born Qamar Williams, took piano lessons and played the trombone in his school band. While music played a big role in his life early on, it was eventually eclipsed by the allure of the streets, which in turn led him back to music.
"Part of me starting to rap was 'cause I was in the trap and I wasn't selling drugs; my phone wasn't ringing," says Q, who passed idle time by trading bars with fellow trappers. Those cyphers helped to bring the idea of a rap career into focus. And the consequences of that illicit lifestyle—jail time—along with news that he had a son on the way, pushed him further along that path. When he returned home, he took a lifeguard gig at the request of his grandmother before giving music his all. "I was like, 'Man, I'm 'bout to just follow my dream," he recalls.
After dropping off early tracks like "First Song Back"—accompanied by artwork that looks like it was shot through the lens of an iPhone 3—Q continued working on his craft as he gained more and more traction on SoundCloud. After a while, 24,000 streams turned to 150,000. Solo tracks turned into collabs with YFN Lucci and Cuban Doll. The artwork started looking a lot more professional, too.
Riding the momentum generated by his growing buzz, Q Money unloaded his debut project, Neva Had Shit, earlier this year. The video for its standout track "Work" features Q's playful dancing, toothy grin and trap-infused sounds—it's been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube. The visual for "Neat" is on its way to similar success, having earned nearly 1.5 million views in less than two months.
Earlier this year, Q Money inked a joint deal with Think It's a Game and Warner Bros. Records. In August, he dropped his Ain't Shit Funny mixtape, a project that's only garnered him more attention. Now, he's hoping to get yours.
Learn more about Q Money in the latest edition of XXL's The Break.
Name: Qamar Williams
I grew up listening to: "Gucci, [Lil] Wayne. I like Rich Homie [Quan], [YFN] Lucci. I really listen to everybody, for real. I always was a fan of music. I listened to a lot of artists."
My style has been compared to: "I ain't never got my style compared."
My standout moments to date have been: "When I signed to Warner Bros. Every time I think of Warner Bros., I think of [Porky Pig saying] 'That's all folks' [Laughs]. I was thinking, like, 'It's going up.'"
My most slept-on song: "'Perfect Timing.' I put out nothing but bangers, but I just feel like they're slept-on. I'm underrated."
Most people don't know: "I got a son that just turned 2... he was talking when he was 1. I get a lot of my dance moves from my son."
I’m going to blow up because: "'Cause I'm just different. I got everything that come with it—everything that you need. Nobody like me. I'm my own person. I got personality, charisma. I'm unique."
My goal in hip-hop: "I wanna go No. 1 on Billboard. I want a record label. I wanna have a major label myself."
I'm going to be next: "Michael Jackson [laughs]."