A-Q is finally getting the attention his music deserves, more fans are catching up on his virtuoso skills and his name is now getting a constant mention among the greats, so if you are one of those who just discovered A-Q due to the MI triggered LAMB August projects, then welcome on board.
The buzz around Gilbert Bani, who goes by the stage name A-Q is tied to his joint project with Loose Kaynon, titled ”Crown”, but on December 4, 2010, he released his second studio album, ”Past, Present and Future,” and the hip-hop community failed in embracing one of the most important projects of the last decade.
Even though this was his sophomore album, he refers to it as his debut mainstream project, as it came after three other independent bodies of works (one album and two mixtapes), that had laid the foundation for him to discover his style, improve his flow and understand the concept of making impactful music.
When he emerged, A-Q was regarded as the industry ‘noise maker’, taking shots at everyone in sight, but by the time this album arrived, he was gradually climbing into maturity and his anger was a lot more tapered and his music relatable.
The ”Past, Present and Future” had the breadth of talented producers like Ray-X, XYZ and E-Twinz bringing it to life.
Talking to A-Q, he speaks on working with a producer like X, ”Ray X produced most of the tracks, I also had E-Twins on two tracks, XYZ, Laylow and Phatboi.
The making of the album was a hectic experience, I had to travel to Benin most times for recording, mixing and mastering.
Ray X had gotten hold of a mixtape I made back then called ”The Commission,” the tape had found its way to Uniben [University of Benin], as one of my strategies was to distribute my projects to Universities.
He listened to that project I made with Kraftmatics, called me and said I stood out for him, and he wanted to hear me on his beats and he will work for free provided I came to Benin.
I went there and recorded countless songs, he eventually got me into a label he was with back then, but things didn’t work out. After I left the label, I figured I had enough recordings for an album, we added a few more tracks and that became, ”Past, Present and Future.”
The album contains 17 songs with guest appearances in the form of Terry Tha Rapman, Laylow, Pherowshuz, Iceberg Slim and Lace.
Opening with the nostalgic opening intro, ‘Prophecy,’ the album had a variety of messages in songs like ‘Diary’ where he had his most personal moments as he spoke about his late brother, then there is ‘Gbese’ with Laylow, X-trim and Lace.
‘Champagne and Rum’ is the one geared at the clubs, which grew into a mild hit, with the controversial ‘Names’, where he called out Jesse Jagz, Ruggedman and played around others like Kelly Hansome, El Dee and more.
A-Q further speaks on what inspired the album, ”At the point where I released the album, I had a track ‘Names’ ft Xtrim, that was doing very well.
I also had a marketing deal with Zone Koncepts in Alaba, so everything seemed right to release an album.
I had to push the album myself and that is where the problem began, the first 10k [copies] we produced disappeared in two days, I and my team cut another 10k, we gave the marketer 5,000 copies and we distributed the other 5,000 hand to hand.
The 5,000 copies we gave the marketer disappeared and we were not getting any money… the revenue from the ones we sold was what we put in making the video for ”Champagne and Rum” video in 2011.”
Speaking on why the album holds an important moment in his career, A-Q says,
”It actually marked my entrance into the entertainment industry, I was making business decisions and even though they were not the best decisions, the experience from putting out that album moulded me to this point.”
Other standout cuts on the album include ‘Unbreakable’ produced by XYZ and ‘Blame It‘, an honest joint where Q spreads the blame around, ”My Alma Mater Kings College Floreat connection, school of geniuses, blame my seniors gs’, boys with mad game still very serious kids.”
‘Internet Hustler’ is one of the brightest moments on the project, as A-Q literally breaks down how much work he is putting into the game comparing himself to filmmaker, Steven Spielberg.
Then there is ‘Found Love’, where he lets his emotions loose, ‘Get Ur Crime On’ with Real Talk and Terry Tha Rapman and the closing record, ‘If I Should Die’ where he pays tribute to the late Da Grin and Guru.
For what A-Q has delivered in the last couple of years in ‘Rose‘ and ‘Blessed Forever‘, the paradigm shift in his approach can be traced to ”Past, Present and Future”, it was a wholesomely put together project, one where working with Ray-X, a producer who understands him in a way similar to Beats by Jayy brought out the best in him.
The album was lyrical, delivery was tight, production was above board, features were brilliant and it was more than just rap, it was actually great music and looking back eight years later, the album not just stands the test of time but is one ahead of its time, creating a blueprint upon which his present sound now thrives.