QUO!
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QUO!

Manhattan, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2016

Manhattan, NY
Established on Jan, 2016
Solo Hip Hop R&B

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Apr
28
QUO! @ Skidmore College

Saratoga Springs, New York, United States

Saratoga Springs, New York, United States

Apr
22
QUO! @ Skidmore College

Saratoga Springs, New York, United States

Saratoga Springs, New York, United States

Mar
03
QUO! @ Skidmore College

Saratoga Springs, New York, United States

Saratoga Springs, New York, United States

Music

Press


“I’m gonna start off talking to you guys. Come get closer. We’re gonna vibe tonight.”

Cristian Fernandez ‘19 opened his Saturday night set intimately, asking the crowd, full of Saratogians, to gather around him as he spoke about globalization. Cristian, who goes by the stage name of QUO, writes music the same way people tell stories -- with vivid imagery and life condensed into intricately thought-out songs. Now it is time to tell his story a different way.

Before performing, Cristian began as a writer searching for stories to tell. Through traveling and listening, he wrote about the conversations he was having.

“When I began writing in freshman year, it was kind of just writing about stuff going on in my life. But not necessarily looking through it in a political lens. Around that time, the mainstream music was Lil Wayne and Drake. They kind of dominated the hip-hop sphere, so I would listen to them and was kind of influenced by their styles and their kind of cadence and tried to transform it into my own. But it wasn’t until sophomore year that I started actually listening to different artists, some pioneers of the hip-hop game. And then that was when my writing started to transform,” said Cristian, dressed in his own merchandise.

Since then, Cristian has evolved into an incredibly precise writer and performer -- each word and song has a time and place. Taking inspiration from what is currently popular, Cristian’s music represents a different wave of thought that truly parallels his stage name and what it stands for.

“The name itself, and metaphorically, means breaking the status quo. Me, as a Latino rapper, we don’t have many of those nor the kind of issues I talk about and how I talk about them,” explained Cristian. He later added to this idea of breaking apart the expected with talking about how “The different beats themselves, they do evoke a certain emotion, a different way of going about the song. If I hear an instrumental, or a sample, or a beat, or anything, I think about how are most people going to write to it, then what can I do to change that.”

Watching Cristian perform, I got the sense that as a hip-hop artist, he is truly overflowing with words. He recently dropped his first official mixtape titled ‘The Autobiography of the Common Man’, available on SoundCloud (https://soundcloud.com/quo-4), where more often than not, the songs are three to four minutes of rapping without interruption.

“I definitely have challenges performing my music live because I can’t take breaks on some of the songs. We see some rappers today where they go and perform, and can relax or ride the chorus. But with me, I have a song that’s three or four minutes straight through of me rapping or the chorus is just a small little part, and it’s definitely hard to always get out there and perform it to my best. You always want to give it your best, so it’s a lot. Some songs are just flowing and flowing and flowing, and it’ll be fast -- I have to practice a lot more.”

This need to write and portray himself and his ideas plays into why his debut mixtape has seventeen songs on it -- an unusually long collection to see produced by a new artist. However, Cristian had a vision and a theme in mind, not let any fitting song go.

“The songs are very interconnected [and] all add to the theme I was trying to convey. I didn’t want to exclude the songs that are saying exactly what I want to say, and what I want to convey to the people listening to the music. I thought [the songs] tackled different issues while still staying interrelated. Some of the songs talk about my life, certain points in my life, I have certain songs about my family, about being introduced into the hip-hop culture. And I also tell the stories of different people. It’s to show the main idea that I really want to get across in this project which is that there isn’t much of a divide between me and the person who is listening.”

One of my personal favorites, for example, is Sunshine Snippet, track fifteen on the mixtape -- a combination of traditional R&B feels mixed with QUO’s quintessential identity. The song is dedicated to Cristian’s mother as well as the rest of his family. In the words of Cristian himself, “It was basically a piece showing thanks and gratitude.” Within the song, he thanks his mother for seeing the potential in him as an artist, and thanks her for always supporting him.

The project itself took Cristian about three years to completely finish and produce. Despite being able to write about three to five songs per week if lucky, having exterior obligations led to a prolonged process. However, this allowed Cristian to really take time and experiment. More specifically, it allowed him to form an interest in multiple producers.

“Some of the different producers are people I’ve met in NYC. We’ve kind of established a connection through some of the hip hop programs I have been a part of. Some [of the producers] I’ve never actually met, we just talked online and worked on getting something together. I would send them the lyrics to a song I was working on and ask them if they were on the same page. [If they were], we would try and work something out.”

The mixtape is now available on SoundCloud, but will be distributed elsewhere in the near future. As for any upcoming projects, Cristian said he is constantly writing, drawing inspiration from this incredibly dynamic world. Cristian very adamantly added that whatever he does come out with next, it will not sound like ‘The Autobiography of a Common Man’ -- that sound is done now, and he is ready to move on to new ideas.

Along with that, Cristian has a bold goal of one very special performance.

“I would love to do a show in Zankel down the line. I think that would be a huge turning point in what a lot of people expect. You know, this is Zankel, we hold performances for a certain type of music and sound. But then boom, you have a hip hop performance and all of a sudden, things start to change.”

Cristian is not only incredibly driven and knowledgeable about where his unconventional project is going, but he is also incredibly kind and excited to discuss it. If you search out good music created by good people, there is nothing you will not like about ‘The Autobiography of a Common Man’. Not only is it a polished, well-crafted mixtape, it has a personal air to it without being too personal for a diverse audience to enjoy.

At his performance, Cristian moved about the stage easily, commanding attention in the same manner. His songs are powerful and precise, and the words seem to flow effortlessly out of him, each powered by a passion. QUO tells stories -- not simply just his, but those of anyone who is willing to share. - Skidmore News


Hello everyone, today I have something extra special to share with you all. I want to introduce you all to. Cristian Fernandez, a.k.a. Quo, comes to us from New York City. Currently a sophomore at Skidmore College, Quo has gathered quite the following within the community. Last year, he performed in front of many students at Skidmore’s annual spring event, Fun Day. His set was really good; I personally had never heard his music before that day and I was really impressed. If you’re like me, when you hear the word Quo, you think of the phrase “status-quo,” meaning the existing state of affairs. However, that is not at all what Cristian wants to convey with his name. When I asked him why he just shortened the phrase down to Quo, he told me, “My artist name is very crucial to my entire platform. Quo physically and metaphorically breaks the status quo. There isn't a large Latino collective of rappers on the scene. Mainstream radio stations have also set the notion of what hip-hop should entail [and] I steadily believe that my ethnic background and lyric substance challenges the mainstream quota.” This forced me to step back and think for a moment. Cristian conveys his unorthodox state by doing what he can to stray away from and towards changing the status quo. In a way, the name Quo is Cristian’s way of telling all of us that he is blazing his own path in the music world and that he wants the mainstream media to change their ideas of what hip-hop should entail to include Latino rappers as well.

Cristian says that he first got into rap during the end of his middle school days, when Drake and Young Money were really big. He says that the conversational style of rap was something that he really wanted to have as his style, but admitted that things change. In his music, Cristian says that he aims to compete with and is influenced by artists like Nas, Big Pun, Lupe Fiasco, Common, Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, Black Thought, and Mos Def. He says that, when he raps, he tries to emulate Nas’ way of telling a story through his verses, Ab-Soul’s unconventional cadence, and Lupe Fiasco’s way of challenging the formal narrative. Oh, and in his mind, Black Thought is, “The illest to [ever] hold a mic. Period.” Finally, Cristian said that, without the guidance and help of local radio DJ Sime Gezus, who helped expose Cristian to radio, Quo would not have the same following that he does. Both he and his manager, Nigel Smith are so thankful for everything that Sime has done and continues to do to help them out.

As of now, Quo only has 3 songs up on his SoundCloud, which you can stream at the bottom of this post. However, Nigel and Quo himself have revealed to me that fans should be on the lookout for some brand-new stuff by the end of the month. Quo says that he aims to release a music video for a track from the mixtape titled, “A Eulogy for Him and Her” sometime next week before his full mixtape drops by the end of January or even early February. Both Nigel and Cristian have told me that the title of this mixtape is, “The Autobiography of a Common Man.”

Just like the name Quo itself, the mixtape title, “The Autobiography of a Common Man” carries great significance. Musically, Quo says that he didn’t model the sound of this mixtape after anything, but rather used what he describes as dynamic sounds to fit alongside consistent lyricism. He says that the tape has a wide selection of beats and melodies, but stressed that he made an effort on this mixtape to use unique beats in order to challenge his flow and penmanship in an effort to move away from what he describes as a music production culture that can be very “changeable.” However, what really intrigues me most about this album, since I haven’t heard anything from it yet, is the title. When I asked him about why, in a world where everyone strives to stand out from the crowd and be the greatest at what they do, he would refer to himself as a common man, he told me simply, “I refer to myself as a common man because I recognize my service to the global community. I aim to shine light on issues that may not be discussed in my community. It is essential that I transport info that I get at certain institutions, back to the community. From that perspective, I am just the next one up to carry the torch of insight.” Such powerful words. Furthermore, Quo told me that the lyrical influence for this mixtape comes from individuals and their unique stories that he came across in New York City, whether these people were people he met at school, or playing ball in the park, or even at Nonprofit NGO’'s, He listened to their stories and was inspired by them. So, this mixtape is his way of bringing those stories to us, another set of listeners. “The Autobiography of a Common Man” represents not only Cristian’s experiences, but also those of people whose stories have inspired him, while also telling us as listeners that Cristian does not see himself as above anybody else. Even though he recognizes that he has been blessed with resources and experiences that others have not, he wants to, “be a resource to the next one up."

Personally, between the name and the meaning behind Quo, and the powerful message and meaning that “The Autobiography of a Common Man” contains, I am seriously impressed and taken aback by Cristian Fernandez. Somehow, even in texts, Quo has the ability to make words flow to the reader, to the point where I genuinely felt like I was reading lyrics to a song and the rhythm was playing in my head. I don’t know how he does it, but that was a really cool and unique moment for myself.

Finally, Cristian and Nigel have informed me of some upcoming events that they have scheduled in the Saratoga Springs community. First, on Friday, February 3rd, Quo will be performing at Putnam Den, located at 63 Putnam St A, in downtown Saratoga Springs, as part of their Hip-Hop showcase. The showcase will begin at 11pm. After that, on Friday, February 10th, Quo will be headlining an event at Skidmore College, hosted by himself and Nigel called Saratoga Sixteen Hip-Hop Showcase in the Payne Room of the Tang Teaching Museum (Time TBD). In addition to being a showcase for Skidmore’s finest rappers and lyricists, this event will also serve as the release party for “The Autobiography of a Common Man” so be sure to check it out if you’re in the area. Quo and Nigel have already released a promotional video for the event, which can be seen here.

Overall, I cannot begin to tell you all how impressed I am with Quo, even just his purpose and ideas are powerful, which should make the music even more special. Please keep your eyes out for Quo’s new mixtape and give it at least one listen when it comes out, I will share it on the First Class Music Facebook page, along with the upcoming music video. Hope you enjoy what Quo has already released and what he is about to release. The kid is dope. - First Class Music


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

QUO!, also known as Def-Quo, is a 21 year old Dominican Hip-Hop artist, lyricist, songwriter, and producer from Manhattan, New York City. The origin of Quo has it's foundations in metaphorically and physically deconstructing the "status quo." He began rapping in 2014, but did not officially begin recording music until mid-2015. Quo's music is focused on tackling social and political issues, while still maintaining a positive vibe.     

Band Members