112's Q Goes Solo: "Diddy Took the Focus Off of Us, But..." [EXCLUSIVE]
He talks his new album, why women "settle," and if Bad Boy artists are destined to fail
In the few years since 112 took a break to focus on solo projects, Q Parker has lived a few lives. He became a fitness model, and began focusing more on becoming an ambassador for healthy living. A deal which promised a debut album nearly 4 years ago went sour and the album never materialized. But with a new single, "Show You How," already getting radio play and an album, The MANual, due out this summer, Q Parker is showing why it's about time that he’s getting started -- again.
Loop 21: Do you feel a certain pressure with your new album, The MANual, because of the amazing success 112 had as a group?
Parker: Not necessarily, because I look at it this way: One of the reasons people love 112 is because Q Parker was a part of that, in addition to Mike, Slim and Daron. When I open my mouth, you can’t help but hear elements of 112 so I made a conscious effort when I was going into this album to make sure I still pleased the 112 fans, but to also let them know who Q Parker is - not Q from 112, but Q the man.
Loop 21: Did you guys formally break up as a group?
Parker: In our minds, it was more so a hiatus. But of course in the media and in the public eye, when they see one individual doing something outside of their group, people think it’s about breaking up and having beef. In our minds it was never about that, but really about allowing us to go out and do different things. Whether that was a solo record or whatever you wanted to do. After that was done, our mission was to reconnect and jump back into the sound. Now, who knew it was going to take 5 years for that to happen? Slim had his album which we all supported. Right now, my focus is Q Parker’s album, The MANual.
Loop 21: What did you make of Slim’s success?
Parker: Slim is the oldest member of the group. I was proud to watch my brother excel. We all played a part in [his] growth and development. And to see one of us doing so well and being so successful, that wasn’t doing anything but elevating our total perception. If he does well, 112 does well. If I do well, 112 does well. But I was very happy for him.
Loop 21: Explain what The MANual actually means.
Parker: I want people to understand Q Parker "The Man" and how I’ve matured and grown, but I also want people to think of it as a how-to guide. Men are going to be able to appreciate it, too, but I made this album for women because I think they need to understand that there are still some gentlemen out here. Chivalry ain’t dead. There’s still guys that know how to treat a woman, touch a woman, be intimate, talk and communicate. I think at times, women settle. They can be in a situation with a man and know it doesn’t have any promise or a future, but just for the sake of not being alone they deal with it. I want to say to her so bad, 'Listen babe, you don’t gotta go through this. If you give me the chance, I can really show you how you’re supposed to be loved.' Women need a male artist that can cater and nurture them. R&B artists get so caught up with what’s going on in the club and in hip-hop, popping bottles, and VIP, instead of just singing to these women, caressing them through song.
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Loop 21: Do you have a favorite Diddy story?
Parker: I would just go back to the beginning, when he saw these 4 guys from Atlanta that could all sing lead. We actually sang for him the first time in a parking lot and he came back for the second time with Faith Evans and Usher. After we sang, Faith Evans was, like, 'If you don’t sign these boys, you’re a fool.' After that moment, 2 weeks later, he sent the paperwork and we were signed to Bad Boy.
Loop 21: What’s the best and worst part of working for him?
Parker: The best part was we’ll forever be connected to the history of the R&B and Hip-Hop movement. In the 90s, for about 10 years, Bad Boy ran the whole industry. No matter what we put out at that time, it was a hit. It was us, Total, Big, Craig Mack, Diddy himself, Ma$e, The Lox, Faith, Carl Thomas. We ran the industry. And that was great. But when he decided he wanted to be an artist himself, it took a lot of the focus off of us. I don’t necessarily think that’s true that all Bad Boy artists but him are destined to fail, because at the time, we had already established our own brands, so it wasn’t going to affect 112 totally. Did it kind of diminish some things? Maybe. But if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t change anything.
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I was just in New York doing my video and press for my album and I called up to Bad Boy. There’s only about 3 people still there who were there when we were. It’s a totally different staff, but if I was to see someone it would be nothing but love. It was a family-oriented label at the time. Everybody knew each other, everybody had genuine love for each other.
Loop 21: How often do you talk with the guys from 112?
Parker: When you’ve been together almost 25 years and been a part of each other’s lives for that long -- we started in middle school -- it’s impossible for you to fall off the face of the Earth and never talk to one another. We don’t talk to each other everyday, but we keep in touch enough to know what everyone has going on. Here recently, there has been some talks about a possible reunion tour or another reunion album. But we’ll see how that goes.
Loop 21: What was the most exciting part about shooting the video for Show You How?
Parker: Relationships are key. It was so gratifying for me to be able to make a phone call to Olivia and have her agree to be in the video. Same thing for Willie Taylor from Day 26. The very first video I ever went to was Biggie and Faith Evans' for the "One More Chance" remix. It was shot in Brooklyn. My video was in Brooklyn. The very first video that I was in, we rolled down Times Square. This video, I’m actually in Times Square, too. So it's just kind of nostalgic how everything came about. I’m having to do so many of the things that we had to do when 112 first started. It’s just like riding a bike. Some things are tough, because you would think someone of my stature wouldn’t have to go through them, but I really appreciate it because it keeps me grounded and I love working.
Loop 21: Is your image that you want to project now different from when you were a member of 112?
Parker: No, sir. I was creating all those records, too. They came from me, too. In all of that I’m still the dude that's going to say, “Make love to you in the shower, on top of the stairs, we can do it anywhere.” But I understand that as a grown man sometimes you can’t always position it that way. A grown woman wants to be talked to differently. She wants to be treated differently. Not to say that you have to totally erase that guy, but you have to embrace that there’s another route in terms of getting what you want. That was when I was 18. I still want to do all those things -- don’t get me wrong -- but I might just word it differently now as Q Parker.