Where You Find Him: On Twitter: @donferQUAN
What You Might Know Him For and Why You Could’ve Cared: Drake created some noise on the ‘Net last week when he proclaimed in an interview to be the first artist to successfully marry singing and rapping talents together. While on a commercial level that may be true—with all due respect to L Boogie; her debut album wasn’t quite a balance of the two—the Toronto superstar wasn’t the first rapper to entertain the idea. Former Nas protege Quan tugged at a thug’s heartstrings on “Just A Moment,” from the QB poet’s 2004 LP, Street’s Disciple. Fresh off of a seven-year bid, Quan, then 27, connected with Nas’ DJ, L.E.S. in 2004, who slid beats over to Quan, including what would become “Just A Moment.”
Over a sweeping string synths and slow, melting drums, Quan pulled double duty on the track to mourn fallen soldiers. Quan’s enunciated flow punctured every wound: Though our thug’s ain’t here, the love is here/And we gonna rep ‘til slugs kill us here. Then, his gospel-tinged voice helped ease the pain on the chorus.
The Virginia native became a hot commodity after his breakout performance (the song was originally Quan’s but gifted to his mentor after Nas heard it) and he quickly signed to Nas’ Ill Will Records through Atlantic Records. Photos of the two rappers, alongside now Atlantic Records co-chairman and CEO Craig Kallman, circulated online. It was was a celebratory moment.
“I’m just trying to tell my story and teach who I can, where I can,” Quan told XXL’s Editor-at-Large Shaheem Reid in 2005 about his debut, Until My Death, which, unfortunately never arrived. “Some things ain’t all positive, and some things ain’t all negative. At the end of the day, my story has meaning: I gave you something that gave you more wisdom than you had before. If I did that, then that’s my purpose.”
Though Nas’ track record as an executive isn’t stellar, Quan never begrudged him when things didn’t pan out. Ultimately, Quan made a string of guest appearances on projects by Cassidy, Bizarre and, most recently, in 2011, with Asher Roth. And he’s continued to put out mixtapes.
Current Status: Independently he’s released two projects, 2009’s Walking Testimony and just this year he plans on dropping Glorious Struggle, the follow-up to last year’s mixtape, The Struggle. —Jayson Rodriguez (@jaysonrodriguez)