Twelve years ago, Newport News’ rapper Donferquan aka Quan, teamed up with Nas for the standout track “Just a Moment,” the third single from Nas’ seventh studio album, Street’s Disciple. The Virginia-based MC saw the height of his lyrical potential while spitting rhymes about lost ones. Two years later, Quan witnessed the birth of his first child, his son, who’s now 10, and redirected the purpose of his music.
Known for saying admittedly “wild s—” across a catalog of more than 500 songs, Donferquan transformed his tune into something meaningful for his children. His goal: to leave them with a legacy they’ll relate to and remember. Following a new sonic line of thinking, Quan recently released his latest single, “They Don’t Love You…,” which is a remix of French Montana’s track. The song details the struggles the rapper has worked to overcome–as well as stories of people he’s witnessed experience life’s hardships over the years.
Now ready for the release of his official sophomore album, Point of No Return, Quan talks about the significance of his unfiltered lyrics, blunt storytelling and the motivation behind it all – his children.
The Boombox: Your recent single, “They Don’t Love You…” is lyrically raw and uncut. Why did you decide to let fans inside your personal life with this track?
Quan: Music is therapeutic for me. I was blessed with a gift to articulate and put words together. [So] I just hope that when I do get deep, I slit my wrists and I give people my pain…to let them know, ‘Hey, there’s somebody out here that knows your struggle. There’s somebody out here that’s dealt with tremendous pain.’ If I can catch somebody and they can listen to my music and [I] helped preserve them and help them move forward, then I did something. You know, good, bad, sad, or glad, I did something. I’ve been through a lot, and I have to get it out – I’ll never run out of things to write about.
So it’s important for you to leave something behind in hip-hop?
It’s one thing to make a song that has people shaking they ass, but it’s another thing when you can have people hold up their lighters. For someone to say, ‘Hey man, your music helped me get through some of the darkest moments of my life…that’s what “Just a Moment” with me and Nas represented. We wanted to tap into that. That song is still relevant, and I guess that’s why people still want to hear what Quan has to say. They know that even though I may have my wild moments, I’m going to say something. I’m going to be conscious and fight [for] what’s ours. I’m not no dude talking about shooting somebody for no reason. I’m fighting the bucket syndrome that we deal with in urban America.
What do you mark as hip-hop’s tipping point?
When the machine decide[d] to switch it over. Not all machines are the same, but they all are the same. The drug dealers, the doctors, they don’t care nothing about the medicine that they gave you. You got a headache, here’s a pill to take away the headache, but you might lose a leg – that’s on you to deal with. That’s what people have to realize about the machine. It’s a double edge sword. To a certain extent, you should be held accountable…for things you say, but at the same time you can’t hold accountable a rapper who’s a savage and ain’t never had no home training. I would want my music to be like Egyptian scribe. If I die tomorrow – my son is 10 and my daughter is four – I have to leave them with something of substance.
What do you hope to leave your children if something were to happen?
I got this song called “Already Know” that’s coming off of my Point of No Return album. That’s what the concept was about. If something happens to me then these are the things that you already know. I’ll give you the last verse I said to my son.
To my plants,
You know why daddy keep you fly with a vengeance.
‘Cause when I was coming up, boy, I really want had shit, nah.
No Jordans, no Trues. No four wheelers.
Just some empty promises from a drug dealer.
That’s where my pain and hurt – it all went to work.
And I got caught up in a lifetime of crime and dirt.
And I’m praying you my son, don’t do as I done.
‘Cause this fast lane could make this fast life a lonely one.
Go to school. Mind yours. Don’t be f–king with thugs.
Be established before you smoke weed and no other drugs.
You make 10 say five and keep God in your heart.
Don’t start shit, but if the shit start you tear it apart.
Give a girl a flower before you give her your all.
Keep a lid on your d–k and let your word be your bond.
Stay loyal to your family and be nobody’s fool.
‘Cause most friends ant really friends.
So keep you a tool.
And to your daughter?
Walk like a queen, and your King will come to you.
Don’t be fooled by his jewels or the way he talks to you.
He could be his mamma’s main man but not his mamma’s boy.
Never beg a man for sh-t. Get on your grind and get your own.
Make sure you’re an asset, not a liability. And stacking,
That way you never lacking in stability.
‘Cause you could get a wedding ring and not a damn thing,
But the same damn ring and some more mouths to feed.
Stuck up in your house while ya girls be balling out.
Wishing a different decision ’cause yawl on the outs.
Strap it up and be cautious of who you let touch.
And never ever trust and love the next n—a too much.
Love is a verb, f–k what he bought you.
Fall in love with his spirit. The good things that he taught you
Be a lady, keep 380s and some m-thaf–king class.
Move safe, stack money and cover your ass ’cause you’re royalty baby.
What inspired you to lay those verses down for your kids?
Long story short, I was having a lot of premonitions about dying. I was going through a lot of s—, and a lot of my friends were being killed. It was crazy. I keep my babies in my bed. When they’d come and see me every other weekend, we’d just crash in my bed together. I remember siting up one night, late, and just watching them and praying like, “God, please preserve me for them because they need me.”