We almost didn't get to write this article. You almost didn't get to read it, which means you almost never heard QuESt. Hopefully this piece helps you realize just how much of a shame that would have been. To tell you the story of QuESt now, you have to know the story of QuESt back then, so let's go back in time a little bit.
The date was May 10, the year was 2012, and QuESt was down and out with his life seemingly crumbling around him. The last thing he thought he'd be able to focus on was continuing to pursue a rap career.
We recently spoke to QuESt about this important date in his history, and he told us, "What made May 10th, 2012 such an important date to me personally wasn't just because of what happened. It was because it was the third time consecutively that I found myself back at square one. Jobless, broke, and losing my crib. I was kicked out on my own when I was 17, and from then on I was always in and out of my mother's house due to our troubled relationship at the time. Fast forward a few years later, and this time, I thought I really had it all together. I was living on my own working full time as a janitor, taking care of myself for a good year and change. My father got out of jail late 2011 and needed a place to stay. Naturally he stayed at my place for a month, and he convinced me to let me move in with him and hand over the financial responsibilities to him. It was something I always wanted since we had never been able to have a consistent relationship. I was hesitant because of his past disappointments, but my desire for us to live together outweighed that. Long story short, he made promises he couldn't keep, and 6 months later I found out we were getting evicted. Five days before the actual day we needed to be out. Crazy because a couple of weeks prior I lost my job, and then I gave him my car because he had no place to go, and I found myself right back at my mothers crib at 22. Being a rapper or, trying to continue being a rapper was damn near out of the question. I dropped 9 tapes since 2008 and saw no progression. I was close to quitting altogether. My heart wasn't in the music. I wasn't eager to put my all into another project/singles, and beg for downloads and still wonder how I was going to pay the light bill the next day. I needed to re-evaluate my priorities and decisions."
Fast forward to August of 2013, and things were far more positive. QuESt had just wrapped up his first nationwide tour as the opener on Logic's "Welcome to Forever" bill, where he made quite an impression, considering Logic's Visionary Music Group quickly signed him to the squad. We'll get into that a little later, though.
Lyricism & Delivery
QuESt is tough to pin down when you first hear him. At first listen, you'd peg him as Harlem through and through, hearing a striking similarity to Smoke DZA in his voice and inflection, though his flow is consistently faster than DZA's. Lyrically, he's versatile as hell, switching up his rhyming schemes as the beat dictates. For example, on the "24 Freestyle" you can hear him go from annunciating his lyrics very deliberately to spitting in a furious double-time, all in a few bars. It's rare to hear an artist be able to pull those two opposite ends of the spectrum off on one verse, rather than using one flow throughout.
His delivery is very aggressive and brash, but not in a barking or yelling sense. You can hear how hungry QuESt is to succeed in every verse. There's no throwaway lines, no bar wasted. It's as if he sees every bass kick and high-hat as another chance to give the listener a piece of his story. Where a lot of artists are making club bangers that feel empty and contrived, QuESt's songs feel like they come from a place of true inspiration and meaning, where every line is substantial in it's own way.
Much of the earlier work we heard by QuESt seemed to be on more somber production, where the songs felt like they come from a very emotional place. Since joining VMG, whether it's just the access to different producers or the bar for versatility being raised by all his label cohorts, QuESt is spazzing on far more uptempo and in-your-face beats. You can hear what the fuck we mean on "Fuck You Mean" (that was convenient).
When we asked QuESt about how he's changed his musical style over the past few years, he told us, "I've been gearing up the last five years of my career for this tape, and I feel like I've found my voice and my place musically. Its very concise and to the point. I'm more honest, my cadence and story telling has evolved, beat selection has vastly improved, and getting my point across has never been easier. I know what I want, and what I want to say."
East vs. West
QuESt hails from Miami, FL and loves his hometown, but after all the hardships he had faced there in recent years, he felt he needed a change of scenery. Not wanting to give up the year-round summers he was accustomed to (we're just guessing!), he headed west to San Diego, where he currently resides.
This doesn't mean he doesn't support his hometown though, as he's still rooting for the Florida hip hop scene, and is a fan of many artists down there. He told us, "There's a lot of talent coming from Miami right now. My personal favs are Bizzy Crook & Denzel Curry. I feel like they're really putting a solid effort towards bringing some attention to the city. They both have movements on opposite spectrums too, but are from around the same areas and super talented."
While we were on the subject of who he's listening to, we asked what else he's been bumping these days. "Im really heavy on Childish Gambino, Camp super inspired my upcoming project. Common's Nobody's Smiling has been on constant rotation. Really fucking with Goldlink'sThe God Complex. Kendrick Lamar and Drake always stay in rotation, as well as Nas, Jay and Coldplay. My brothers TreaZon & YNG get plays and so does my bro Skizzy Mars."
Living in the city where the women stay pretty but the love is never shown, I had to leave to get it poppin'
― “Automatic” by Quest
The Real Deal
Towards the end of last summer, QuESt officially signed on the dotted line for Visionary Music Group after having toured across the country with them a few months before. It wasn't an immediate life change, as he kept his regular 9-5 job for a little while after signing. This showed that he had learned from his previous trials and tribulations in 2012, now knowing everything can change in an instant. But once he knew that they shared his vision, he was all in.
When we asked what made him want to commit to VMG, QuESt said, "VMG honestly just came at the right time. I was always around Chris (President of VMG) and Logic just as homies and we all had mutual respect for one another. They're just honest hardworking people. Chris called me at a pretty defeating time, I'm not sure if he even knows."
We were also curious how much creative control QuESt had under VMG over his music, but he told us, "They let me do my thing. Of course they have their inputs and opinions, but ultimately I have the final say over what I do creatively."
Working with such a talented rapper as Logic has to help QuESt develop himself further as an artist, in the rapping and business realms. Talking about his relationship with Logic, he added, "Logic is amazing, but I'm more focused on being the best me and forcing myself to outdo myself. Improving my weaknesses and mastering my strengths. That's how I stay on my toes as a lyricist. I feel like that's the only way to be the very best in your field. Being the greatest YOU possible. The three tours I did with Logic taught me so much. I call it the breeding grounds for me. A fan base was also revealed to me to tap into. The only real bane has been being perceived as the guy under THE GUY. Logic is clearly in a different realm career wise. But even that isn't a bad thing, it just means I have my work cut out for me. And I work my ass off."
Humble ass mumble in the jungle
Signed a record deal and still got a job
Nigga, I be working hard, harder than a Mexican
― “Automatic” by Quest (Yesiam)
It's all leading up to this. QuESt's first full project under Visionary Music Group drops September 2nd. It's the culmination of years of hard work, challenges in his personal life, and all that he's learned along the way. The vault is sealed pretty tight on it, so we haven't heard much, but we did get blessed with a single called "Automatic" earlier this week, which you can hear below.
We asked QuESt what his existing fans can expect to hear, as well as what new fans can tune in for, "With Searching Sylvan more than anything you'll be getting my story. I know that sounds crazy cliche, but its true. I focused this album to really tell my truth and make it as vivid as humanly possible. With this newfound platform, I have somewhat of a voice, and I might as well be revealing and say something to inspire whoever listens to it to hold on. Jay Z once said the truth will always be relevant. That's why I made honesty my brand. The old fans will be getting the same exact thing, but it differs vastly from the previous nine projects. My next project musically I'd like to focus on composing strong, well put together records. On this project, I had to slightly neglect that because of the story I wanted to tell and the message I needed to convey to everyone. This project is meant for people to listen and come out saying, hey I know this kid. I know his story, I know what he's about. More than anything that's what I desire from Searching Sylvan."
In our 3rd installment of the recently resurrected On The Come Up series, we profile Visionary Music Group's own QuESt, straight out of Miami and about to drop the biggest project in his young career.
HotNewHipHop's On The Come Up series profiles rising stars in the rap game that show strong promise and the will to succeed. Most of the time, they're new to the site but deserve some shine. We will profile artists and producers ranging from those in the deep underground to artists just about to bubble up into the mainstream that you may have missed. You'll be able to check out some of their best work, and we'll break down what makes them great by category. At the end of the article, you'll find links to hear more from the artist or producer, and you can leave suggestions in the comments letting us know who we should profile in the future.
This week's edition features QuESt, a Miami rapper with bars for days who's on the fast track to your most played-list.