Qwel and the Rise of Galapagos 4
PAUSE: Full name?
Qwel: Adam Vincent Schreiber.
PAUSE: Date of birth?
Qwel: June 6th, 1980.
Qwel: Chicago, IL, but I’m everywhere. Chicago is my heart, though.
PAUSE: How did the raps begin?
Qwel: First, my little brother is like a crazy disciple dude from Chicago. Him and his guys would sit around and just freestyle. So, I was into graffiti, but if you sit around and kick it with these dudes who freestyle, pretty soon you start freestyling. The dude that said “Man, you should be doing this” was this guy Pugslee Atomz from this group Nacrobats. He actually put most of us dudes in the right direction. I would say Robust… a ton of dudes that I know were put in the right direction by him.
PAUSE: Put in the right direction? What do you mean?
Qwel: I was like “Man, I can make a tape? I can sit down and write a song anyway I want to? I can just do it myself? I don’t have to do a show like somebody says? I don’t have to do it like anybody says? I can do it how I want to do it. THAT right direction. Go make some music. If you’re a rapper, then you should rap. Your are what you do, not what you say.
So he took me under his wing for a while, introduced me to everybody in Chicago. Show me where the battles were. Got me into all the battles. Stuff like that.
Man, I’m telling you, I started rhyming…like started rhyming, like wrote my first rap ever, like eight months before the first Typical Cats album was recorded. I hit the ground running. This is in 1999. I started rhyming and I got pushed to the forefront. I was a white dude that could rap when the internet was blowing up, and it all just kinda came together. I got some favoritism because of that. I mean, I earned it, made good on my debt to it, but it was just good timing for me. From then on out, it was just over. HPK rap show, Hyde Park radio, University of Chicago.. DJ Natural was the the hip hop DJ there. The thing is, he really made me smart. He was like “You guys are good, you need to get out of town.” Like it says in the bible, no man is a prophet in his home town. So, he influenced us to go do that. We all moved in with him when we did Typical Cats. We started writing and finished recording that album in a period of no more than three and a half months.
Qwel: Yes sir. No punch ins. No double takes. Every one of the verses where all three of us are on it? We spit it together on one mic, live sound, analog recording; not all these digital guys with all the fancy punches. That’s why it sounds raw and live, because it was raw and live.
PAUSE: So you did Typical Cats, and then after that came the solo album “ If It Ain’t Been in a Pawn Shop, Then It Can’t Play The Blues?”
Qwel: Between Typical Cats and Pawn Shop, my little brother had been locked up for a long time. Well, he got out after three years. Then he ended up getting locked right back up. At this same time, my father broke his back at work, and my older brother, trying to kick some demons in his life, joined the army. I have a brother that’s a year younger than me, and one that’s a year older than me. That was my crew. Where we grew up, we were pretty much the white neighborhood. So, that made us really really close. Me and my brother Mikey? Everywhere together. You’d never see me without him. But, I lost both of those dudes at the same time. So, I had nothing else but this music. Then, I was like “What’s all this misery? I didn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, why is it here?” If it ain’t been in a pawn shop, then it can’t play the blues. That’s what that whole record is about, my life at that point. Some of it, I look back on it and I think, I was 19 and complaining about things I didn’t know nothing about. I don’t think a 19 year old man should do an abortion song. But I’m older now, I could not have known that then.
The big thing about the Christianity part of that record is that I think religion is the worst fashion show, misrepresentation of God. Religion hung it up.
PAUSE: Let’s stick with that. Obviously your faith is a big part of who you are, where did that come from?
Qwel: So that time in my life when I lost everything, and was just a frowning dude, God sent mad people out of the woodwork to me. Just out of the blue. People saying “Find jesus and your life will be happy. You’ll be smiling and it will all be better.” So I cracked open the Bible, because I didn’t know why these people were sent to me, but I knew they didn’t know what they were talking about. There is no way, buddy. So I cracked the Book and I found out that the Book is not wrong, but the ambassadors for that book are. The pick and choose people. They just take whatever they want to justify their own thing. I just started reading it and I was like “Dude, it’s just that these cats are wrong.”
That’s the way my mind is. That’s why I failed out of college. I had a full scholarship from Dow Chemical. I was gonna be a chemical engineer. Math brain to the death of me. I messed it up though, because college isn’t exactly the right mind state for my brain. It’s really confrontational. I have this associative memory, so if you tell me something from a place of authority, the first thing my brain tells me to do is to pick it apart. If it withstands me picking it apart, then I can hold it, test it out or whatever. So, that’s what I did with the Bible. Kept looking hard to pick it apart. But you can’t pick it apart.
PAUSE: So, realizing that, how has it effected your career?
Qwel: Well, be prepared to look for other jobs. When I started doing Typical Cats, and doing battle raps, I was everyone’s favorite. When I was serving dudes in the battles, everyone loved me. As soon as I started talking Jesus, I was a bible thumper. What was funny is that all the non-christian dudes would be like “this guy is a bible thumper, Ned Flanders,” and all the christian dudes would be like “ this dude is too worldly, not a christian.” So when they say church… church a place where people gather, but they don’t want people to realize that because it goes against the collection plate. “My Father’s house is a den of thieves.”
PAUSE: So how did you get involved in Galapagos 4?
Qwel: So I knew some of these dudes through other graff writer dudes. Then Pugslee actually took me over to to write, and all these guys were there and I was just go and mess all their blackbooks up. Then it was like, “It’s funny, I’m starting to rhyme, you guys are starting to do a label thing, let’s record some stuff and see how it works.” I didn’t even know what I was gonna do with the Pawn Shop record. If I didn’t get that out, I would have never been the better person because of it. It was a thorn, like Paul’s thorn. That was my thorn. So I was trying figure stuff out and I had all these verses and choruses to songs. So White Lightning had some beats and Meaty Ogre had some beats and it all just came together.
So I did Typical Cats, with all the battle stuff. Then, I did Pawn Shop, and I didn’t expect anyone to like it, but they did. They liked it more. They were like “ You have a dichotomy about you. You have more than one side. I was like, well, okay. But then after that, it’s been like anything I do… am I just a trend to people right now? And that’s why the Rubber Duckie Experiment was so crazy. I decided to just put it out, unfiltered, exactly how it is, and find if out if everyone really likes my stuff or the idea of liking my stuff. If I’m just an image, or an underground trend or blah blah blah. So, I did it, and I didn’t get the reception I wanted. People thought I got wack. So I came back with the Harvest, and then everyone was like “oh I love the Duckie too.” That broke my heart. So then I did Freezer Burner. I can’t rely on what no one else thinks of my stuff, this is my stuff. And Dark Day? I wrote a whole narrative album about the modern tower of Babel. But nobody noticed. I guess that makes sense, speaking of Babel. They said “What are we building? Where are we gonna build it? How should we build it?” No one asked why they were building it.
PAUSE: It sounds like music is much more an extension of you than just a job.
Qwel: When I first started doing this, I was still was doing a normal job. I was like “Man, God, please don’t let this music stuff take over my life, and taint my life.” But now, I’m at a point where I’m like “Don’t let my life taint this music.” I didn’t ask for it. It just changed. That’s why my humility is not false humility. I think i’ve been very gifted, but only for the grace of God. People think that’s just talk, but He reads my heart. Plus, the thing that really drives me to speak on this stuff is that nobody is speaking on it properly. Nobody has the balls to. Nobody cares to study it to know what they’re talking about.
PAUSE: What about the guys from Deepspace 5?
Qwel: Nothing against those guys at all. I love those guys. But, I feel like…I don’t know how to say it right. I think sometimes those guys are safe with it. Man, I could be rich by now, but, I gave up the big ego raps to do this. Sick people need medicine. I don’t need to be talking to a bunch of people that already feel the way I feel. I feel like John the Baptist or Elijah sometimes, where, I’m like “Alright, we know the Truth. Let’s go get these people. Who’s coming wit me?” and people are like “ahhhh, I’m busy…” I mean, I got love for them dudes, mad love for them. No one can talk crap about them around me. None of that. I mean, I don’t know what their function is. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. I definitely feel like the adrenaline gland of the Body.