The last two years of Quentin Miller's life haven't been the bed of roses one would expect after working alongside someone like Drake. After Meek Mill called out Quentin on Twitter for being the Toronto native's ghostwriter in 2015, his career took a downward turn during a time when he should've been celebrating his collaborative efforts on Drake's If You're Reading This It's Too Late. People were turning their backs on Quentin for his part in a feud that he was unwillingly thrown into. But the Atlanta native was resilient. After being down, but not out, he focused on his group, WDNG Crshrs, and his solo efforts to keep his musical momentum going through the storm.
Just when the dust was settling on that whole ghostwriter fiasco, a life-changing event knocked both his hustle and spirit. In late 2016, Quentin lost his right leg in a serious car accident in Atlanta. While there were rumors at the time of the crash that he had to get his leg amputated, the 27-year-old rapper didn't confirm the loss until September of that year, when he posted a black-and-white image on Instagram of his metal leg. His life as an artist seemed to hang in the balance, but soon enough, he was back on track, dropping new songs, the Shredded Metal EP, and hinting that his Falco project was on the way.
Now, more than 10 months after his accident, Quentin proves he's still the song-writing, Nike-loving rapper fans have known him to be throughout the years. He puts his talent on full display with his new nine-track effort, Falco, inspired by the metal leg-wearing character Falco Lombardi from the video game series, Star Fox. Pusha T appears on "Gambles" while Hit-Boy adds a verse to the poignant offering "Judge Dread." On "Out of My Hands," Quentin faces his demons. "Sometimes I think about the shit I did/Think about the shit that I been in/Sometimes I think about that crash/What's the reason that I lived/Why a nigga still here," he delivers. By the track's end, it's clear he's leaving his fate up to the universe and focused on chasing gold.
Read on as Quentin Miller opens up to XXL about his Falco mission statement, Pusha T's lasting advice, the crash that changed his life, and winning people's hearts.
XXL: So first off, congratulations on your new project, Falco. It’s been a long time coming for you. How does it feel right now just to have it out there for the world to consume?
Quentin Miller: It feels good. It’s crazy ’cause I picked the date randomly. I didn’t know that JAY-Z was gonna drop four days later. I keep talking about it on my socials like, "Ahh, it’s so hot." But I remember a bunch of JAY-Z interviews where he would talk about, "Oh, when I would drop, Lauryn Hill was dropping, and B.I.G. is dropping his stuff." So it kind of feels the same way. I’m proud of the project, and I’m proud that I put it out in a month with so much great music. Definitely.
What’s the overall message you’re trying to send with this project?
I guess if I had to pick a message, it would be like the first song, “Still Here,” you know? The first song and the last song have the most message to it. I just live ’cause it's out of my hands, the song with CJ Francis ["Out of My Hands"]. With everything that happens, with everything that comes, you gotta just live, man, ’cause it really is out your hands. I guess the message is to keep living, keep going, you know?
It’s clear that you’re identifying with this Falco character on this project. Have you identified with him more over the last year since you lost your leg?
No, the crazy thing about Falco is like, a while back I had did this thing called Weekends with Shane, based off Shane Falco from The Replacements [with] Keanu Reeves, ’cause I felt the same way as him. I felt like I had got dropped [from] Epic Records and he had got dropped from the team, and he was working a regular job, I was working a regular job and he found a way back in.
So I was going off of that, and I had tweeted last year, "Falco dropping at the end of the year," and somebody was like, "Oh, he’s talking about Falco Lombardi, from Star Fox with the metal legs." And I was like, "Yeah, that’s who I’m talking about [laughs]." So yeah, shout-out to that random guy on Twitter. I don’t remember what his name is, but he kinda put me on to that. And it just so happened to make sense, with the whole metal legs thing; it kind of gave me a way to be animated.
Definitely. The first artwork that we saw for this project featured a Falco character, and then the final version that got released had the Falco title only. Why didn't you use that? Was that just artwork for that particular time?
Yeah, the first artwork is the true artwork, but of course Nintendo owns the right to Falco and Star Fox. And then plus the first artwork had my logo on it which has the Nike check on it, so pretty much to avoid any issues. I wanted to post that first one and let people live with that one so they would know this is really what the cover is.
Did someone draw it for you?
Oh, and that’s another thing. I had my friend edit this picture I had found on Google, so even the picture wasn’t an original picture. Just legally, it wouldn’t had been smart to make that the actual cover.
Yeah, it was all promo, though, in a good way. So when it comes to the music on the project, you’re using audio effects on your voice at times for some of the tracks. What or who inspired some of that for this delivery on Falco?
Just music today. I feel like hip-hop is in one of the most experimental times it’s ever been in, and I kinda feel like we started that from If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Not like we’re the only ones, but it’s something I know speaking personally—I started doing from there. That’s where hip-hop is; it’s in an interesting place of trying things [and] not being afraid to try new pockets and shit.
I was just experimenting with different flows, different sounds. And then on top of it, I listen to a lot of Coldplay and stuff, and they get away with just going like, "Ohhhhhhhh," for 10 seconds. Like, why can’t we do that in rap? So that’s why I play around with different stuff. That’s where we’re at today in hip-hop, you know?
The internet always talks, and there has been discussions here and there of some songs having a Travis Scott vibe or Ty Dolla $ign vibe. What do you say to comparisons like that?
I’ve been seeing that too, and it’s like, c’mon guys. Travis Scott didn’t invent Auto-Tune. He isn’t the first person to use Auto-Tune, and he’s not the last. You can date me back years. I came up under The-Dream and stuff like that, so I’ve been playing around with melodies. It’s cool, I guess I’ll take the comparison. But everybody uses Auto-Tune, bruh [laughs]. It’s OK.
You have a few collaborations on here. Let's talk about the Pusha T collab on “Gambles.” How did that come about?
Well, I had linked with Pusha T via DM. I had did a song with Hit-Boy a while back, and Pusha T was on it, so we got each other’s info over DM and I kinda just took a shot in the dark and reached out. And he showed me love, looked out for me. So shout-out to Pusha T. ’Cause I know about Pusha and Drake’s history and whatnot, so I had to be clear like, "Please, bro, no Drake shots on here, I just don’t wanna be a part of that." It actually really did come from a genuine place, it’s not on no spiteful shit. Me and Pusha sat down and actually got to know each other. I like to consider him a big brother, a mentor in the game. And sometimes he gives me advice and stuff, so shout-out to Pusha T, man. Yeah.
That’s awesome. So you guys actually recorded this together in the studio?
No, I sent this to him and he sent me his verse back.
Did you guys sit down in previous times and chop it up and stuff like that?
Yeah, I had linked up with him shortly in that same ballpark of when we did the song out in L.A. We sat down and had dinner, and just talked about the music game and stuff. He’s a real cool dude, man. A real stand-up guy. He’s one of my favorite rappers, lyrically. He’s incredible, so it’s an honor.
Is there something from him that you took away in terms of advice that he’s shared with you?
Yeah, a couple things. Definitely a couple pointers, a couple gems that I walked away with. But all in all, it was really just getting to know each other. I’m glad he actually took the time to get to know me and he actually got to feel where I was coming from. At first he thought I was a writer too, and then he saw… I expressed to him my passion for actually making the art. From jump he was just like, "Yo, you’re serious about this, and I see it and I feel it. And you got the talent. Whatever I can do to help…" And he stood behind it.
Who did some of the production on the album?
Bobby Johnson did “Out My Hands,” J.LBS did “Gambles” with Pusha T, and Nick Miles—he’s a producer I’ve been working with since 2012—he did “Surreal.” And then I produced every other song.
And how did you link up with Hit-Boy for “Judge Dread”?
Me and Hit-Boy been working together for years. I had made the beat for “Judge Dread,” I had did the hook and my verse, and I just thought, What if instead of getting him to produce a joint for me, what if I got Hit-Boy on it? And I sent it to him and he was like, "Yo, I fuck with this shit. This shit hard." And I was self-conscious at first. I was thinking ’bout tweaking this, tweaking that, and he was like, "Nah bro, this shit is crazy." To hear that from Hit-Boy, who in my opinion is top five producers in the game today, that was a lot, you know? So that was a very special song.
On that particular song, you say, "Been in the darkest of places, made the hardest decisions/I’m a rock star for a living, but I gotta father my children." For you, what are some of those dark places and hard decisions that you had to make?
There’s obvious dark places of what I’ve been through, as far as the accident and everything. And then the hardest decisions, you know, sometimes I had to make decisions that affect my family or affect my kids or whatnot. I’m not gonna go into super detail, but sometimes I just had to make decisions, and really that line, "I’m a rock star for a living, but I gotta father my children/All I know is confliction," that’s all I know. It’s real.
I have two girls. It’s almost like living two different lives. My lives conflict ’cause I go and I do this rapper shit, and then I’ll go home and I’ll have my daughters and I gotta be on daddy mode. It’s weird. And the crazy, conflicting part is, in rap, you talk about having hoes and saying all this other stuff that I would shield from my children. It’s just a crazy conflict. But at the same time this is what I do; this is what’s putting bread on the table; it’s what helping me take care of my daughters and stuff. It’s just conflict all around, you know?
Exactly. How old are your two daughters?
My youngest is 3 going on 4 and then the eldest is 11, and I pretty much adopted her. She’s my daughter’s big sister, but I claim her as mines, too.
That’s awesome. Awesome for you.
And I hope, you know, who knows, hopefully that inspires other people. ’Cause I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s been in a situation like that, where you have a child and that child might have a sibling. Don’t isolate the sibling, bro, ’cause that affects the child.
I feel on you that. So going on to “Out of My Hands,” really like this track along with “Judge Dread” and “The Light.” So “Out of My Hands,” you talk about the crash a little bit, and you’ve kinda been pretty quiet about it. The focus has been on your music, but last year you posted up an Instagram photo showing your metal leg. How has that experience changed your life?
It changed my life in a lot of ways because of the things you don’t think about. Like, just hopping out the bed, taking a quick shower. Just things you would never think about I have to think about. So as far as stuff like, but at the same time I’m trying to just keep pushing. You know, with the whole Drake/Meek scandal I didn’t wanna lean on that to get me poppin’.
Even with my leg thing, I touch on it, but I’m not trying to lean on that either. I always wanted to just make good music, and I don’t wanna say compete, but, be in that conversation. For what I do, not for any other stipulations other than this is good music. It’s changed my life, it’s affected my life, but I’m kinda so tunnel vision I try not to even focus on it at times. I’d rather just keep going. Soon as I got my leg I was in New York [laughs]. Trying to just keep the boat moving.
Are you using the same metal leg that you showed in the first photo you ever put up?
The first photo that actually wasn’t the leg, it was a loaner until I got my leg. I was blessed by some good people to get a really high technology leg that I would love to say the name [of], but they made me pay full price. So if we can work something out then, you know who you are. If we can work something out where I can get the latest leg, then I’ll say y’all name[s] all day [laughs].
Things worked out and you came out of that experience so positive. For some people, it would put them in a deep depression, and not come out of it. And you’re still here and you’re still making music and you just put out a project, so that’s pretty dope. Are you still living in Atlanta?
Yeah, I’m still living in Atlanta currently. I’ve been debating the California move, but, I’m not sure. My girls—my daughters—are in Atlanta, so I try to be as present as possible.
Last year, when you visited XXL, we asked you what your goal in hip-hop was, and this is what you said, "My goal in hip-hop is to, when it’s all said and done, when I’m done, when they say, ‘Yeah, man, the greats, like JAY-Z, like Kanye West, like Travis Scott, like Drake, like Quentin Miller. That’s my goal." You want your name to be in the conversation. So have your goals in hip-hop changed since then, and what are they?
No, they haven’t [laughs]. That’s pretty much the ultimate goal for this hip-hop thing. Just make my mark and be in that conversation. It’s what you do it for. Like if you’re a basketball player, you want a ring. You want an MVP. You wanna be rookie of the year. So it’s kind of like the same thing in my field, it’s just less athletic [laughs]. Not that I wanna be better than anybody or anything, but if you know you can compete to a certain level… I’ve worked with so many people—I don’t even wanna name-drop ’em ’cause every time my name is mentioned with another artist it becomes a thing—it has to be for a reason, man. I just feel like I can compete.
And how about goals in life in general? What are they for you outside of the music?
That’s a good question, ’cause I’ve always been focused on the one thing, just music since I was a kid. I never really had any other goals outside of that. But I definitely do plan on—especially after this new JAY-Z album just dropped—like fuck, I need to make a legacy and leave something for my kids. What am I doing? [laughs] Jay just told me I’m doing it all wrong.
I’m not sure exactly what I’ll venture into afterwards, but right now my heart and my passion is still in music, proving myself with this music. Even more now, actually. I can’t really perform and jump off stage and stuff, but I can make the best song that I can make, you know? That’s all I have now is songs.
Definitely. So you’re still out there performing? You’re still doing shows? Your accident hasn't stopped you?
Yeah, yeah. I actually just got done [doing] a Texas run, a show in Houston and a show in Dallas last night. I still perform. I try to be realistic, I don’t try to overwork myself but I still gotta get out here. And it’s interesting, too, it’s one thing to see numbers on the screen and stuff, it’s a whole ’nother thing to see the actual people singing the words to your songs and screaming and shit. That’s a great feeling. It’s like, OK, so I’m not wasting my time. People actually appreciate this shit.
Going back to the accident, where did it happen?
The accident happened in Atlanta.
Were you driving the car? Or was someone else?
Yeah, I was driving.
Overall, how do you feel about life right now in 2017?
I feel like Matthew McConaughey in that movie Gold. I’m just searching for that gold strike, and I’m gonna keep searching ’cause that’s what I’m here for. And who knows, maybe I might get it, you know? Who knows what will happen. I didn’t know I would be here.
Is there anyone you’re checking for right now as far as music goes? Maybe outside of hip-hop, too.
Yeah. Everybody, man. It’s so weird, in today’s time with technology you have access to so many things. I like Bon Iver, I like [Young] Thug, I like 2 Chainz, I like Francis and the Lights. I get inspired by a lot of stuff. Francis is the new one I’ve been on a lot. I don’t know, man, it’s a lot of people. It’s inspiring as fuck. Playboi Carti, of course.
Nice. We put him on the 2017 XXL Freshman cover.
I don’t know if anybody remembers, but back when the Meek thing happened and Twitter was going crazy, the first thing I tweeted was, "Playboi Carti should be in everybody’s like list." And Carti hit me up after that and was like, "Yo, good shit." We been slick cool ever since then [laughs].
When you came in for The Break last year, you were very apprehensive about even saying the names Drake or Meek. You never said them. And to hear you say it now, it’s just cool to see, is it growth, I guess? It just seems to be far behind you. How does that feel, too? Like, that’s in the past and wanting people to just move away from that.
It’s in the past. At the time it was too hot. If I would’ve said his name in any capacity, it would’ve been a headline. I just wanted the situation to diffuse and die down before it turned into anything, and I really kinda wanted him to say something first. So he said what he said with the [DJ] Semtex interview. So now it’s like, OK, I guess it’s OK. It’s public. I still don’t go into detail about it.
Are you still working with people as far as songwriting goes? Or is that something that you focus more on your own work?
I do, if it makes sense. It has to be something that makes sense for me. Luckily, I’m in a position where I don’t have to do that. Like I said, it never was that. I never was a writer, you know? That was just like, who would turn down that opportunity? So that was just one of those. And luckily I’m in a position where I don’t have to worry about doing that to feed my daughters so… I’m really just focused on myself, but of course, if opportunities that make sense come up, I don’t turn them down.
So what’s next for you?
Really just promoing this project and uh, I don’t wanna give away too many plans, but Falco’s definitely not the end of what I’m dropping in 2017. Basically my plan by the end of 2017 is to have a nice body of work that drops for the year. ’Cause I’m at a "prove yourself" stage in my career so, I just want—by the end of the year—for people to look at my body of work and make their own assessment on how they feel about Quentin Miller. I know how I feel, but at the end of the day it’s not completely up to me. But that’s the fun part. You wanna compete, you wanna get out there and win people’s hearts.
Keep going, trying and achieve, basically.
Exactly. That’s definitely the plan, man. More music. As far as, you know people keep asking us about videos and stuff, people think I have an investor behind me or something, but they don’t know [because of] that whole situation, people don’t even wanna put their hands on me. So it’s been me and Coach Cam and The Cool Is Mac, everything we’ve been doing we’ve been doing on our own.
We don’t have no help, I don’t have no backing. I don’t even have a stamp. It’s so many things I wanna say, but I don’t even wanna cause a thing. But, we don’t have no stamps out here. I’m just controlling what I can control and that’s music. The more blessings that come upon us is good, but until then, we’ll just keep making music.
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