While listening to the new Kendrick album this past weekend, I imagined the unprecedented glory that would result if Rich Homie Quan, in rare solo form, hopped on a spree of smoky tenor samples, chaos drumming, and soulquarian finger-snapping. Rich Homie Quan and Mos Def could do a mealy-mouthed duets album or something.
You scoff, perhaps, but Quan’s already dabbling in gospel-trap crossover, and rather successfully at that. The (apparently) amicable disintegration of Quan's Rich Gang partnership with Young Thug and Birdman may prove to be the career reset that promotes a prince to a king, or rather a king to a god among trap neophytes. According to my ancient and prophetic calendar, 2015 is the year of Rich Homie Quan.
Nine months after Rich Gang's “Lifestyle” dropped, Quan's got a solo smash in the chamber. "Flex" is a nimble and catchy radio gambit that's not even the most tremendous Quan song of the past three months. No, that would be "Daddy," the aforementioned gospel gem that dropped back in January to quiet regard among fans and critics, who lately seem to realize that Quan wasn't necessarily the weaker or conservative half of Rich Gang. For a short while I was hoping that "Daddy," Quan's quivering tribute to his wounded father, would prove a prominent counterpoint to rap reactionaries who insist that streetwise rap must be dweeby and earnest in order to register as "conscious," though anyone who hasn't yet learned that essential hip-hop complexity may as well be refuting climate science. Boosie made "Face Down" and "I'm Wit Ya" at the same damn time!
Rich Gang: Tha Tour Part. 1 offered early hints of Quan’s solo supremacy. Revisit “Freestyle,” and appreciate the sober, careful construction of a verse so intimately wise that I'd have briefly sworn that 25-year-old Dequantes Lamar was my very own father: “Go to school, be a man, and sign up for college, boy/Don't be a fool; be a man.” This sort of wise and embattled pathos is a signature of the best street rap—that's word to Boosie, Gates, and Keef—and Quan has been rehearsing this signature for a year now. When "Type of Way" and YG's “My Nigga” rung off in 2013, I couldn't/wouldn't have predicted that Quan would make a career of not just hooks for himself and others, but of passionate anecdotes and patchwork narrative.
Let’s not dwell too long or stressfully on the rumors of a falling out between Quan and Thugger; let us not be Chatty Patties. Thugger's zany and eccentric force of character is plenty of spectacle unto itself, so more solo starpower to him. I look forward to another year of Thugger's off-key shibboleth raps, which make for hilarious Vine clips and inspired fits of curbside karaoke when Damien Scott is gone off that Henny. There is life beyond Rich Gang, though I would at least prefer that such a life would include the official release of Rich Gang's Tha Tour Part 2.
Like Marsellus Wallace’s briefcase, Rich Homie Quan's solo prospects are golden, glowing, and so far unquantifiable. Why, just this week, I placed a $100 wager on the possibility of Rich Homie Quan succeeding Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond, by the power of Quan’s true-to-life audition for the role mere nights ago in his walloping a bouncer at LIV in Miami and then fleeing the scene in a nearby speedboat. “I’m with Flo Rida,” he snapped before cartwheeling into that starboard leather. The truth, however, is that Rich Homie Quan is bigger than Flo Rida. Rich Homie Quan is the captain of a lawless speedboat destined for the eastern sunrise. As Young Thug waves and mumbles his goodbyes from the dock of the bay. < /fanfic>
Justin Charity is a staff writer for Complex. Follow him @brothernumpsa.