The Rising Sun Quest
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The Rising Sun Quest

Waterbury, Connecticut, United States | INDIE

Waterbury, Connecticut, United States | INDIE
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"Best Hip Hop"

Raised in Waterbury — or “The Dirty Water” as he calls it — The Rising Sun Quest entered the Fairfield County music scene five years ago thanks to an open mic night he hosts the third Friday of every month at Cousin Larry’s in Danbury.

“When people in Connecticut think of hip-hop, they think of thug rap and things like that, but we represent the true roots of hip-hop,” says Quest. “We invite people throughout Connecticut who also have the mindset and who are also about making it an art. We welcome everybody, really.”

Quest’s voice is deep and confident, allowing him to stray from the stereotypical themes of radio-rap without coming across as soft. His words tend to be philosophical and conceptually universal and, like his name, they draw upon astrological imagery.

His latest EP, Hydrostatic Equilibrium, is Quest’s fourth release. It’s a well-rounded, strong effort from the emcee, yet the beats behind his vocals nearly steal the show. The treatment offered by producer Defynshn, who, like Quest, is a member of the Ant Farm Affiliates collective of emcees and producers, is intricate and melodic. He samples sounds not often heard in mainstream rap, and channels the best of underground hip-hop producers, like Madlib and DOOM.

“We’re kind of a tight family of people who help each other by getting our material out,” Quest says, of AFA. “We have artists for cover work, DJs for scratches, producers for beats, emcees of course, and people who book venues.”

Apart from AFA, Quest sees a serious lack of community in the Connecticut hip-hop scene. “There’s a lot of talent here in Connecticut, I will say that, and there’s also a lot of people who are doing hip-hop for the wrong reasons,” he says. “They’re not supporting each other because they want to be the first to put Connecticut on the map.”

As focused as Quest is on his own aspirations, he is equally concerned with forging a positive hip-hop community in his state. With his unique style and lyrical mind, it is unlikely that he will meet much competition for Best Hip-Hop act next year. But if he did, it would be a step towards Quest’s larger goal. - Jackson Connor - Fairfield Weekly


"The Rising Sun Has Spoken"

Senior Writer Nicole D'Andrea
06/25/2008

When The Rising Sun Quest broke into the Waterbury hip hop scene he was one of the first rappers to have a cd.

On a recent warm afternoon outside the Leitner Family Observatory in New Haven (corner of Prospect and Edwards streets) Quest laughs and recalls, "When I first came out with a cd it was a huge deal. It was like, 'Yo, we got our shit on a CD!."

As one might guess, it was the '90s and the scene from New York to Los Angeles was exploding with brand new emcees, beat boxers, and DJs.

Now, just 29 and still young enough to get pimples, Quest remembers this time as an era when rappers meant something with their rhymes.

"What it was like was, the artists that came out were real. It was like they were you and they were going through their struggles and you got to hear their struggle and sometimes it was similar to yours and sometimes it was way more than yours but you got to see a personal side to the artists."

Today, he laments the scene is a little different. More of a "business," he says.

"What you are going to make money on is ass-shaking and cars, you look at BET and the only music getting played is Lil Wayne and Rick Ross and I don't want to shoot that stuff down because it's a business, and there's a lot of local artists that want to follow that model and the chances of them getting far with that is so slim."

He furthers, "The music industry is going through a huge change so that's kind of why I'm struggling a little bit because I was built in an era where people went out and bought cds and people went to shows."

In support of Quest's latest release Journey Towards the Sun (May, 2008) and in honor of days gone by, he's throwing a party at Waterbury's Brass Horse called The Formula for Friday Night. With his crew the Ant Farm Affiliates- a Connecticut collation of like minded artists- Quest hopes to put on a show that is loaded with everything the old school is about. Think DJs, b-boys, b-girls, rapping, drinking and don't forget dancing.

For Friday's event, Quest will headline, with Spaz the Working Class and Sketch Tha Cataclysm rapping as well as DJ SirCumference and DJ Mo Nicklz spinning.

Though accused of sounding old and gripey by a New Haven radio station for ranking on the current state of hip hop, Quest explains that his distaste for the way things sound on mainstream radio is just his integrity.

Raised on Wu-Tang and lyricists who had intent when writing a song- not dollar signs in their eyes- Quest set out to emulate those types of artists.

Born from a high school lunchroom cipher, Quest created two albums, his debut, Stellar Evolution (2001) and an EP Surviving (2004) before his latest release, Journey Towards the Sun.

Explaining Journey which he said is more upbeat than previous works, Quest says, "This album should take you on a journey to my mind which in turn is kind of like yours."
From the opening track it's hard to deny what he's pushing.

Why I Write explains who Quest is and later, his track About Me, further explains this local artist.

Quest wrote in About Me, "Every holiday there was a party in the crib/ Got the family together, it was never about the kids/ On my birthday people would show up to get drunk/ I'd be like, 'It's my birthday,' and they'd be like 'So what?'.../ I just wanted you to know who I am, where I'm from and where I stand/ because usually I write rhymes about the things I see but this one is all about me."

Our Dreams explores Quest's struggle becoming a hip hop artist and he describes the song as everyone's song because the refrain, "That should be me."

Across America people have been responding to Quest's humble and honest lyrics which speak to a plethora of people enduring struggles and also celebrating rights of passage.

From Florida, Quest said he received a letter from a girl who was going through what he raps about on Escape from What. With sincerity Quest continued, "She was waiting for a song like that, that could turn her life around. She said it was exactly the words she needed to hear to make things right."

He says the listener has become a fan and he depends on this grassroots sort of promotion for his fan base.

So it's not about a catchy song with ambiguous lyrics or an iced-out wardrobe?

Quest laughs, "You see what I'm driving. Do you think I care about image?"

Quest, who drives a teal green Ford station wagon which may have been made the year he started rapping, adds, "I don't have to support an image." He says his satisfaction is measured by his fans, those he promises to stay true to by writing heartfelt lyrics.

As a married man and father of three, Quest is content to book a few shows a month and continue to make music he can be proud of. Because he has a steady job outside of hip hop, he feels that his music is not a "be all, end all." He says, "It would suck to only have this music right now because then you are forced to change it up if somebody is interested... be willing to compromise and I won't."

Though the current face of hip hop tends to be painted bleak with catchy, meaningless refrains and silly dances that require little coordination, Quest does give props to artists like Talib Kweli. He explains of Kweli, "He does a little commercial song here and there but he still remains true to his fan base and he's not going to turn is back and do an about face on the people who have supported him. There's still hope."

Genuinely a sincere and real man, Quest says of his nostalgia for an older sound, "I am just stuck on the stuff that I listened to growing up. Everyone connects to the music that they grew up with." And with his kids in mind he furthers, "Whatever my kids decide to like, I'm not going to say, 'That's not real hip hop.' I think that's unfair because nobody was telling me what to listen to when I was a kid."

Enjoying the early evening as dusk arrives at the observatory, which overlooks New Haven, Quest concludes, "Did hip hop really change? Certainly it changed but it's growing... it's a powerful force right now, maybe it's for the better and just because I don't like what's being made doesn't mean that I can't recognize what the power is."

And for Quest the power may not be in sales yet, but it's certainly and always has been in his words.


©Play :: New Havens Arts & Entertainment Weekly. 2008 - ©Play :: New Havens Arts & Entertainment Weekly. 2008


"Quest Album Review"

The Rising Sun Quest, Journey Towards The Sun (risingsunquest.com). A breath of fresh air for Connecticut hip-hop. Composed of positive content about respect and everyday struggles, conscious rhymes about the system and NPR sound clips, this is the kind of classic that reminds you of KRS-One, Chuck D or the Guru. The production, beats and scratches are just as tight as the rhymes, crossing between Masta Ace's Sitting On Chrome and Guru's Jazzmatazz. The sound is strictly old-school East Coast. The track to bang for your friends is "Take Care of Business"; its soulful hook is inspiring, and makes you want to sing along while bobbing your head to the beat. B-boys, B-girls, writers and DJs best take care of business and go cop this album.

—David Pond

By David Pond and Brian LaRue - New Haven Advocate


"ADAM BERNARD INTERVIEW"

Sometimes an artist can just grab your attention through a performance. I had known The Rising Sun Quest for a little while, but it was during a show in Danbury, CT that I realized he needed to be featured on this site. The Waterbury, CT native is part of a collection of MCs and producers called the Ant Farm Affiliates, a crew that has come together to create great Hip-Hop music and attempt to show listeners that there's a lot more out there than current radio playlists might lead one to believe. Quest is currently working on his third solo effort, his first two being Stellar Evolution and Surviving Life, and with every song he writes he has one main objective, "to create dope songs with deep concepts and meaningful lyrics that are in my opinion timeless." Attaining that goal hasn't always been easy, though, as he readily admits "I'm human." This week I'm sitting down with The Rising Sun Quest to discuss his work, the meaning of his name, and how one of his songs has been saving lives.

Adam Bernard: On your MySpace page you have a comma in your name; Quest, The Rising Sun. I don't think I've ever seen that before. What's up with the punctuation?
The Rising Sun Quest: (laughs) Well the name is Quest. I believe I'm the original around these parts unless you can find somebody who got their name before 1994. Quest was originally a rap name given to me by an early rap partner. When it became the name people referred to me as "The Rising Sun" was added as a prefix to make the rap persona sound grand. So said properly there is no comma. It's The Rising Sun Quest. See you don't just say, "Quest is dope." You say "The Rising Sun Quest" is dope. I'm a big fan of astronomy and I love the stars and planets. But the star that means most to us humans is our Sun. So I thought when I became a big rap star I would be the most important one,The Rising Sun.

Adam Bernard: You noted you've been MCing for over a decade. Who have you drawn influences from over the years and how are they reflected in your work and life?
The Rising Sun Quest: I won't go crazy with this one. First off my music reflects anybody who lives life. So people in general inspire what I write. Musically my influences have been Redman, Wu-Tang, Boot Camp, Big Pun, A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, KRS-ONE, Big Daddy Kane, Grand Puba, Gravediggaz, NWA, Kool G Rap, Mob Deep, Jeru, LL Cool J, Slick Rick, etc.

Adam Bernard: One listen to songs such as "Soul Merchant" and "Surviving Life" and it's obvious your content isn't all about partying like a rock star. What are you hoping to say with your music AND what do you feel can be gained by saying it.
The Rising Sun Quest: Well all I ever wanted to gain was the respect of those who hear the music. Whether it be from a street thug, convict, sexy lady, ugly lady, old man, Hip-Hop fan, rock fan or my mom. I want you to hear my music and relate to it. Maybe even see things in a different way. As the Sun it's my job to Shed Light on certain things, pun intended. I think music is very powerful and can be used to help people understand that they aren't alone, that they can do anything and that I'm making music for them always. On Stellar Evolution I have a track called "U Die?" and over the years people have told me that that song has helped them through situations that were awful. It's about contemplating suicide and then actually going through with it only to realize afterward that your situation wasn't worth ending your life over. That song's premise is that no matter how bad you have it, other people have it much worst yet still manage to get through.

Adam Bernard: Coming from a state that's traditionally ignored by the Hip-Hop masses how are you going about making sure songs like "U Die" get out to people?
The Rising Sun Quest: I think the key is to get people to recognize that we have a unique sound and then run with it by labeling it something and then branding it similar to "the Dirty South" or "East coast Hip-Hop." Like if we started calling music from this region "New England Hip-Hop" it would give our style of music its own bit of credibility even though its just "East Coast Hip-Hop" from CT.

Adam Bernard: Finally, Hip-Hop is in a one hit wonder phase with acts like D4L, MIMS, Shop Boyz and Yung Berg, but since music goes in cycles where do you see Hip-Hop going next?
The Rising Sun Quest: Right in the garbage if cats like that keep coming out. On the real, that to me is just pop music. I cant imagine that those radio DJ's enjoy playing that mess. Its possible mainstream Hip-Hop will take a turn for the better. But there will always be dope crews like the Ant Farm Affiliates and many others who will continue to make good music. We may not die rich but well die for the cause.
- ADAM BERNARD


"Hip-hop summit offers message of empowerment"

By Natasha Lee
Staff Writer

March 11, 2007

STAMFORD - Aspiring young MCs, DJs and rappers got a behind-the-scenes glimpse yesterday of what it takes to get on stage, spit rhymes and get the crowd pumped.

Underground rappers, producers and artists from across the state gathered at the first Hip Hop Summit yesterday to teach young people about performance, technique and skill.

The all-day event was sponsored by Westhill High School and hosted by Ant Farm Affiliates, an association of more than a dozen Connecticut hip-hop artists and performers.

Their message was one of empowerment.

"There's nothing wrong with being nerdy and being critical," said Queen Godis to a handful of students
following a performance. "We have to rely on our minds, because they are underused as it is."

Godis, a singer and spoken-word performer, and singer Kendall Johnson-Smith, both from Brooklyn,
N.Y., kicked off the summit with a series of songs and poetry from Godis' recent album "Power U!"

Godis said her message and the album are about the struggles and joy of womanhood. She said women
should be "unafraid to be who they are without fear or resignation."

Music videos featuring scantily clad women or sexually explicit lyrics send conflicting messages about a woman's place in society, she said.

"In the midst of mixed media images, there's a lot of disconnect as to what it means to be a woman,"
she said.

Westhill High senior Deidre Knight, 17, said she appreciates Godis' message. "When I listen to a lot of rap, it's like females really can't get anywhere. All you can do is look
good and be in a video," said Deidre, an aspiring rapper. "Even a lot of female artists are degrading
themselves. We need more artists like (Godis). She's good, and that inspires me."

The summit featured a series of workshops about gaining exposure through independent media, stage
presence and breathing techniques. Leaders also spoke about turning "tagging" (spray-painting a symbol or name) and graffiti into a graphic design career. Participants had the chance to showcase their own demo CDs and receive a critique from Ant
Farm Affiliates.

The event ended with a concert featuring the artists.

Westhill English teachers David Wooley and Joe Celcis, who also are Ant Farm performers, said the
goal of the summit was to introduce young people to another side of hip hop, a side less commercial and
more intellectual.

Wooley said he occasionally will interject lyrics into lessons to get students hooked on expanding
their vocabulary and to improve their interest in reading. "I think that we have a lot of kids who are either
artists or intrigued by the music and the culture, and they don't necessarily think it's a way they can
express themselves and be successful academically," Wooley said.

The artists with Ant Farm Affiliates have years of experience performing individually and together across the country, and they said they have
knowledge and advice to share with younger people who are up and coming.

"There's a real subculture that most people don't know about," said Celcis, who goes by the stage name
Nemesis Alpha when he's not teaching "Romeo and Juliet" to high school kids. "For every thug rapper,
there's three or four rappers that have a real message and keep it real."

Sixteen-year-old Brett Clarke came to the summit hoping to hone his DJ skills. Brett, a Westhill High junior, said his hobby of spinning records has landed him gigs at sweet-sixteen celebrations and at parties. The enthusiasm of the crowd as they dance and sing along when he works his turntables gives him a rush, Brett said. But the role of the DJ has been lost today, he said.

The artists said they felt encouraged by the reaction of tose who attended. "I've seen nothing but smiles, claps," said Manny Arias, an MC from Waterbury who goes by the stage
name Roc-one. "Everyone looks like they're enjoying themselves."

Copyright (c) 2007, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

This article originally appeared at:

http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/local/scn-sa-hiphopsummit6mar10,0,155564.story - Stamford Advocate


"Hip Hop Summit: a day of learning and empowerment"

Hip-Hop Summit: a day of learning and positive music

March 6, 2008

By BEN LEVINE

blevine@thestamfordtimes.com

STAMFORD — They rushed to the front of the Westhill High stage, 100 or so teenagers and twenty-somethings packed together, heads nodding and hands in the air, eating up every rhyme and breaking to every beat.

"I need you to lose you're mind," said Joe Celcis, Westhill High teacher and 'MC' for the group the d_Cyphernauts. "This is a real hip-hop show. This is how we celebrate African American history month. Hip-hop is not about violence, hip-hop is love."



And with that the performance part of the second annual Hip-Hop Summit had begun. For dozens of high school students who came out on a cold and grey Saturday, it was the opportunity to lose themselves in the music, and get a chance to see first hand the culture and art form of hip-hop they had been discussing all afternoon.

The Hip-Hop Summit's purpose was to deteriorate mainstream stereotypes about hip-hop culture. On March 1, long-time hip-hop lovers and first-timers had a chance to take part in hip-hop workshops and panel discussions.

The workshops were on everything from beat making, producing, rhyming, break dancing and turn table exploits. Legends such as MC Chubb Rock (Richard Simpson) and d.j. Terrible-T (Tyrone Dunmore) took part in the day's activities. According to Celcis and his d_Cyphernaut partner Dave Wooley (a.k.a. Othello), the workshops were a chance for kids to get hands-on experience in the music they love.

"The idea behind the summit was to merge teaching and hip-hop, and to do something positive for Black History month," Wooley said. "It's a great learning experience (for kids), and we had access to a wealth of artists who had a lot to say, and present a side of hip-hop (students) are not usually exposed to."

Wooley and Celcis wanted to inform youth about the positive and negatives of the music industry, and first and foremost, inspire those who are interested in pursing a career in music. Celcis, who goes by the MC name of Nemesis Alpha, said that as an artist he learned just as much about the hip-hop he's creating as kids learned about how they create it.

"I think as artists, when you're dealing with a specific population as we do, which is the 21-and-over crowd, sometimes you can become encapsulated," he said. "Interacting with these kids reminds us of the responsibility of the arts, which I believe is to have a message, a purpose. I think all art should challenge the human mind."

Celcis and Wooley are both part of the Ant Farm Affiliates (AFA), a collection of Connecticut-based hip-hoppers. AFA members include Phenetiks, Workforce, Cee Reed, The Rising Sun Quest, Sketch the Cataclysm, Expertiz, Pruven, and Spaz the Working Class — all of whom performed at Saturday's summit.

The AFA was formed in January of last year, and first performed to gether at the inagural Hip-Hop Summit, also hosted by Celcis and Wooley. Their goal is to validate Connecticut as a prominent area to discover musical talent within hip-hop. The AFA hosts a local hi-hop showcase entitled "Enter The Cypher,' at Cousin Larry's in Danbury, Conn. The AFA strives to promote the authenticity and purity of hip-hop culture through music, dance, creative writing and art.

In addition to performances and workshops, Celcis and Wooley also held a panel discussion to discuss where hip-hop has been, and where its experts believed it was going.

One of the topics discussed at length by panelists was the record industry, and the changes it has experienced over the last decade. Chubb Rock, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native who has released several albums and sold millions of records world wide, explained that in today's music world, with fewer and fewer record labels, a small number of people make the decision as to what music should sound like, act like and look like.

"What happens in the mainstream media is things are watered down so they are easy to digest. It's the nature of the industry, regardless of the genre of music we're talking about. They want the music to be consumable," he said.

It's this mentality, Chubb Rock explained, that has led to commercial hip-hop's glorification of negative stereotypes, and why so many of today's artists sound the same. Original and positive artists get pushed to the underground scene, he said. Chubb Rock and the rest of the panel would like to see hip-hop pioneers do more to promote positive hip-hop culture.

"We have to go into our communities and help teach young people about the business of music and hip-hop," Chubb Rock said.

In the eyes of Celcis and Wooley, the summit fulfilled that pledge to the young people who came. From 6 p.m. on, kids felt the full-force of electric performance's by AFA artists, and at the end of the day, students were given the chance to go on stage and perform themselves.

"To have them on stage, and to be cheered on by fellow students and the AFA artists, that was something special," Celcis said.

Westhill has been buzzing since Saturday's summit, Celcis said. Students, teachers and administrators are still talking about the positive impact it left on those who attended.

"That's the spirit of it, to me," Wooley said. "I always thought the greatest thing about hip-hop was it represents the natural progression of Martin Luther King's dream. That's what you saw at the summit, a place where everybody could get together, have a good time and respect and celebrate each other's talents." - Ben Levine


Discography

Albums:
Stellar Evolution 2000
Surviving Life 2004
Journey Towards The Sun 2008
Hydrostatic Equilibrium 2009
So Cold 2011

The song Our Dreams off the "Journey Towards The Sun" album went 4 straight weeks on the underground countdown on Kiss 95.7 Fm, a top 40 radio station in Connecticut.

The song 'So Cold' aired on the Sirus Satellite radio station, Shade 45. It played on the All Out Show with Rude Jude and Lord Sear during the Hate it or love it Segment. Well received from callers from all over the country. The Track also hit #1 on CDbaby.com's East Coast Hip Hop Charts.

The Song "Why I Write" won the Saturday night Showdown segment on Connecticut's Hip Hop & R&B radio station Hot 93.7. The competition was based on listener votes.

Photos

Bio

The Rising Sun Quest:

Basically I'm a Hip Hop artist from Connecticut, which in my opinion is an untapped music resource. My style reflects the life of any real person living it the way most people do. We have so many artificial artists who just live their fantasy through their false raps or who are forced to fit an image. To me it's a joke and in my eyes it just ruins Hip Hop in general. Artists just follow TV and radio to see what's hot and pretty much base their whole style on what they see. I'm the opposite, I express what I feel and don't care if it's hot by someone else's standards.
I've been writing music for over 10 years. I initially started writing in high school so I could perform in the lunchroom ciphers. I gained respect by always coming with punchlines that would have the crowed going wild. My first recordings were of me rocking over instrumentals on mix tapes, getting recognition for spitting battle type raps over industry beats. Over the years I've developed the ability to create songs with diverse content. My music reflects both how I'm living now, things I've been through and the workings of life in general. My music is very deep and though I have complex rhymes they are presented in a way that you can easily grasp what it is I'm talking about.
I've been on stages in every major city in Connecticut and have performed in New York and Massachusetts. My performances are live and I've been well received by every crowed I've ever performed for. I like to incorporate the DJ and B-boy element of Hip Hop whenever I can. Over the years I've been on many college radio stations and public access shows and can handle myself very well in any interview.
I love this Hip Hop music because of what it means to People. Theirs nothing better than when someone tells me one of my tracks helped them get through some hard times or just that one of my tracks is their favorite. I create music that will stay wit you forever.
In ten years you'll play my CD and it will still be relevant. I haven't received any recognition or awards but my lyrics are on thousands of CD's and MP3 players around the globe bringing that real Hip Hop music to those who love it.