There’s something about the quiet ones; when they do open their mouths, they always seem to have the most poignant ways of assessing the situation. T.Q.D., aka Bloomington rapper The Quiet Dude, has never shied away from serious songwriting topics, but his new album in particular, Taketh Away, centers around some particularly dark themes and works through feelings like grief and remaining empathetic during tough times quite poetically.
Taketh Away, T.Q.D.’s first album in three years, drops tonight with a CD-release show at Hell’s Kitchen. In honor of the album release (and the fact that we just added his track “Infancy” to the rotation of our Local Current stream), we thought it’d be a good time to find out more about The Quiet Dude.
Local Current: I know you are a Minnesota native. Where specifically were you born and raised?
T.Q.D.: I was born in Bemidji, but other than year number one: raised in Bloomington.
When were the songs on Taketh Away written? Were there any particular themes or ideas that you wanted to focus on for this effort?
The entire album was written in one month: December of 2010. I told Vividend, who produced the whole album, that I wanted to select the beats and have them completely sequenced before I did any writing. I think doing that made me more comfortable with the beats and shortened the writing process.
I always like making downer/introspective material, but on this one I wanted to focus specifically on death, loss, and grief, because I’ve experienced a lot of it in recent years. More importantly, I wanted to be less personal and more direct. For example, on the song “Liverpool’s Last Stand,” rather than the standard “I miss you/looking down on me from above,” I focus on the fact that my friend who was killed, left behind a wife, rather than harp on how I felt. Grief and loss aren’t the only topics I address on the album, but that is the overall theme. Oddly enough, my favorite song on the album, “Audio Problem,” doesn’t explore death. It’s the story of a friend of mine who almost died (thankfully didn’t) dealing with anorexia.
Tell me about your involvement in the Background Noise Crew. For those unfamiliar, what do you feel that the artists have in common?
Background Noise Crew is a label formed four and a half years ago consisting of myself, Analyrical, ToneKrusher Smith, Phingaz, Status Reign, and Egypto Knuckles. Egypto is the only one who doesn’t rap. I rap, occasionally produce, and handle grunt duties like website maintenance, writing newsletters, and so on. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, but remain a family and I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends…plus, I’d like to think we’re all talented too.
What we have in common is a love for hip-hop and an appreciation for different styles. At times we might overlap, but in general we have very different ideas in terms of the kind of music we like to make. I’m glad to say that has never been an issue among us.
One track that stands out for me on Taketh Away is “Insomnia.” What was the inspiration for that track?
The song title is pretty direct. I’ve been an insomniac for as long as I can remember. It’s pretty rare that I have a good night sleep, so as you might imagine, that effects everything else in my life. When I got the beat, the only thing that popped in my head for a few hours was the phrase “pretend until I’m awake,” which ultimately became part of the hook.
I almost didn’t get the beat at all. Vividend announced online that he was selling off old beats that had been sitting on his hard drive for years. Thankfully, I saw the post immediately and called him asking why he was selling “my” beat: the rest is history.
How did you get the name The Quiet Dude?
I’m a quiet person in general. I’m not shy, but I don’t have a ton of interest in small talk, which is often mistaken for shy. My first name when I started rapping in high school was Reserved, but I decided to change it when I was working on my first full length. I just wanted to think of something that stayed in the same territory of being quiet, but less lame. It was either T.Q.D or Silence…I’d like to think I made the right choice.
As someone who has been rapping and participating in the Twin Cities hip-hop community for many years now, what are your thoughts on the health of our scene? Are there any areas where you think we could use some improvement, or where we are particularly strong?
I think the scene has come back from a lull. The closing of The Dinkytowner had a bigger impact than many people would like to admit. For a lot of artists in town, that was the place you could go and maybe you didn’t get the exact date you wanted, but you could always get a slot. I noticed a lot of people disappeared for a while, but now new venues have popped up and some older venues book hip-hop that didn’t previously, so I think the live scene has come back. Also, people are making better albums too.
The only area of improvement I’d suggest, probably effects a lot of other scenes. Sometimes there can be too much jealousy and too many self-appointed victims. When I say victims, I mean people who get salty about this person or that person getting shine that they think should be reserved for them. Hard work and putting your heart is to your music is noble, but the doesn’t mean you’re better than the big names and even if you are, the fans don’t have to like your music. Sometimes folks forget that being a popular rapper is not a right.