Sound Off: Quinn XCII Album Review + Interview
Jul 10, 2020
Coined by pop singer, songwriter, and producer Lauv, the concept of ‘modern loneliness’ has become a signature to this generation of free-range pop. The third studio album released today by singer and rapper Quinn XCII, explores this concept not only in his present-day life, but in his past one as well in the highly anticipated release of ‘A Letter to My Younger Self’.
The 12-track album opens with ‘Am I High Rn’ featuring blackbear in a trippy production daydream throwing it back to that first time dealing with the emotions of getting high a great opener to a project that is meant to take it back to those first times. Stories like this continue on through songs like Stacy, which talk about the unevenly matched relationship with an “older woman” (or hamster) playing on the teen trope of some… under the bleacher love, to that first heart real heartbreak of ‘Coffee’ featuring Marc E. Bassy, to the previously released titular track ‘A Letter to My Younger Self’ with Logic.
Aside from its boyish moral odyssey, this project also features respectively some of Quinn XCII’s best personal work as well on the tracks ‘Notice Me’, ‘Mad at Me’, and ‘Second Time Around’. The ballad, ‘Second Time Around’, is centered on past mistakes and self-forgiveness in order to progress accompanied by the lyrics ‘If I apologize/ In the mirror is my only witness/ and he don’t sympathize”. “There’s this common misconception that we can’t take back the things we’ve done in the past, but the idea behind ‘Second Time Around’ is that we always have the chance to start over,” he says.
Closing out the project, ‘Everything I Need’ serves as a fourth wall break not just closing a chapter on his youth, but the album. Ending on a hopeful note that radiates through the anthemic chant of the chorus, ‘Everything I Need’ is tuned to the key of nostalgia and hope for the road ahead. The entire project is a blend of layers of pop, hip-hop, soul influences rooted in the joy of living in the moment and learning to grow and accept who and what you’ve become.
Keep reading for our exclusive interview.
1. This is the first album you’ve released that the title was named after a song. Is there a reason for this?
We made the song “ALTMYS” and my executive producer Imad Royal offered the idea of using that same title for the title of the album, as I hadn’t figured out what the album would be called at that point. I think that title perfectly sums up the message behind the project.
2. You first open up about your battles with mental health in “From Michigan With Love”. What has changed between that album and this one, and how do you think it affected the album?
I think it affected this project in the sense that it took the conversation of mental health off the table. What I mean is, seeing as that album was so strongly rooted in the conversation of mental health, I wanted to make sure this new project was speaking on a different topic. I wanted to change the narrative with this album.
3. The title of the album is “A Letter To My Younger Self”. What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself not to take myself too seriously & that there’s a lot more life to live ahead of you.
4. Being an artist now isn’t just about the music. Not only do you lose that privacy barrier, but now you also carry a social responsibility. How do you navigate that?
I think I’ve always tried making my engagement with fans and our line of communication a priority. I feel obligated to help people via messages as much as I can. Socially, it’s also a responsibility to use my platform as a positive outlet and to spread awareness of important issues happening around the world.
5. What has been your biggest struggle / hurdle in your career so far?
My biggest struggle has been juggling the 24/7 nature of the business with making time for family and friends. It’s definitely not as easy as I anticipated.
6. What separates you in your genre?
I like to think I’m an artist that vocally has a unique tone but also isn’t afraid to experiment with genres.
7. With so many years creating, how do you still improve in your craft?
I think through things like meditation, healthy eating habits, and just life experience in general it fuels inspiration to create and touch on different subjects / sounds.
8. This is also your third studio album in the past three years. How has your sound changed and how have you been able to keep up with the rapidly changing music scene?
I feel like my sound hasn’t changed as much as my songwriting has. I think I’ve learned to just be more open and vulnerable with things I’m dealing with or topics I’d like to speak on.
9. How has life in quarantine affected the way you create?
Quarantine has definitely made me pivot a bit creatively. From an Instagram live game show to virtual performances, I feel like this time has forced creatives to think outside the box.
10. Each collaboration on this album seems perfectly curated from blackbear to Marc E. Bassy. How did these come about?
Honestly, a lot came through simply either reaching out or a mutual friend. I’m very blessed to have such talented artists I respect and look up to on the same album as me.
11. What has been one of your favorite tracks that you were recently featured on?
Little Things by Louis The Child.
12. What were you doing right before this interview?
I am currently playing board games with my family and am going to get in trouble for being on my phone lol.
13. Shuffle all of your music. What are the first 5 songs that come up?
Candle. Always Been You. Stacy. Straightjacket. Kings of summer.
14. What do you want to be known for?
I would like to be known for spreading love in attempts to uniting people of all ethnicities, religious backgrounds, and sexual orientation. Just someone that intended to make music not for himself but for the betterment of others.
- Photographer Drew Kirsch @DrewKirsch