You may not recognize the name Q Parker at first glance, but you’ve certainly heard his music. As one-fourth of 112, Bad Boy Records’ first boy band, Q and his velvety tenor sold millions of records with massive hip hop soul hits like “Over Now” and “Peaches & Cream,” and even won a Grammy for their contributions to Diddy and Faith Evan’s chart-topping Notorious B.I.G. tribute, “I’ll Be Missing You.” The group later moved over to Def Soul, but contractual troubles and internal turmoil stalled their progress — 112 hasn’t dropped an album since Pleasure & Pain in 2005. Band members Slim, Michael Keith and Daron Jones have all dropped solo projects recently, and now it’s Parker’s turn. And while he may be last to the solo hustle, his smooth new single, “Show You How,” which has been picking up steam on the radio waves, proves that he won’t be the least. It’s the first glimpse of his upcoming solo debut, The MANual, scheduled to hit stores later this year. In the meantime, Q has also made waves thanks to his toned physique, which he’s been showing off in his own fitness calendars for the past two years. Here, BET.com talks with Q about his solo career, Diddy, staying in shape, and how he wants to give your girlfriend a rub-down — musically speaking, of course.
Some of our readers may not remember how big 112 was in the late ’90s and early 2000s. You guys had platinum records and won a Grammy, but then you disappeared. What have you been up to between then and now?
After the fifth album in ’06 we all decided to kinda take a break from each other. We’d been together since middle school. We decided we would take a breather and allow everyone to explore themselves individually. So I’ve been taking the time since then to secure a solo deal and hook up on my own stuff. I’ve been taking my time, carefully, to finish the album and make sure I represent myself well, as well as 112. A lot of people will measure us individually by what we did collectively and vice versa.
Your 112 bandmates have already put out solo material. What took you so long?
It was a big transition. It’s not as easy to just say, hey, I wanna get a solo record deal. A lot of executives, all they know is 112. A lot of times it was, “I like what you’re doing Q, but what’s up with 112?” That’s the story I heard a lot of the time. It wasn’t until I started to take matters into my own hands, you know, releasing stuff on YouTube and letting the Internet see what I was doing, that Malaco saw the movement. They bought into it and did the deal and here we are.
You said you want to represent for 112 as well. Does that mean you guys are still going to work together?
112 is a brand that we will always be down for. Anytime any one of us does something, it’s in the back of our minds that we have to represent 112 as well. Right now we’re actually talking about doing a reunion tour. From that, the possibilities are endless.
How is your music different from 112’s?
I’m an extension of 112. If you look at it like a Voltron, we all make the body of 112, but I may represent a leg, or an arm, and he may represent another arm, and so on. So when I open my mouth you can’t help but hear the similarities with 112, ’cause I was an integral part of the group. The difference now is before I had the support of three other guys, but now everything is just on me. I have 100 percent of the responsibility for everything, not just one fourth of the studio, or one fourth of performing. The whole responsibility is on me, and at first it was something I was a little hesitant about. But once I got on the mic and started riding, it became a piece of cake. I’ve really embraced the whole journey; I’ve had an opportunity to learn a lot about myself as an individual, as a recording artist. I’ve matured a lot.
You recently introduced yourself as a fitness model with your calendars. How did that come about?
I’ve always been into health and fitness. In high school I was very athletic. I’ve always been in tune with my body and how I treat it. In last the couple of years it’s been put in the forefront that America is leading the world in terms of obesity in kids. My manager and I were talking, “Q, what are some of the things that you’re passionate about outside of music? And I said, Anyone who knows me knows I’m in the gym every day, always eating right. That’s how the idea came to us. The most important thing about it is that part of the proceeds go to cancer research. And of course, it’s eye candy for the ladies. But there’s also some helpful tips and nutritional facts in the calendar that people can look into. One of my main goals is to show people that you don’t have to have some high-quality gym; you can do a lot of things in your own home, in your own neighborhood. Just do something — get up, be active and watch what you put in your mouth.
You were part of Bad Boy during its heyday. Are you still cool with Diddy and the rest of the old Bad Boy fam?
Diddy and I have a very good relationship. We don’t talk regularly, but in passing we give each other nothing but love. Faith Evans has a record on my album, I have a duet with her. I ran into Pam [Long] from Total when I was shooting my video in Brooklyn. It was great to see her and go down memory lane with her. Olivia plays the leading lady in the video. Will from Day 26 is like a little brother to me, so he came through and played a part as well.
Would you ever work with Diddy again?
I never close the door on anything. If Diddy were to present something that made sense for us all, then why not? We did so much together, so much greatness.
You said Faith is on the album — are there any other features?
I really tried to steer clear from a lot of features. Coming from a group, I didn’t wanna be overshadowed or have the shine taken away from me. I wanted everyone to really dive into who Q Parker is as a man. That's partly why the album is called The MANual.
How did R&B change while you were on hiatus?
There are so many other elements that are influencing R&B now. With the decline of R&B and the rise of other genres, a lot of R&B artists incorporate other genres into their music. As artists I think we kinda started to steer away from the true essence of an R&B record: a melody, great substance, and vocal delivery and performance. We got so into talking about sipping on Patron, getting into the VIP and rolling up on this or that that we got away from doing what we do: talking about real stuff and, for us men, really singing to women. I think it’s coming back around though, and I made the album with that in mind. The record is really like a manual, a how-to guide for women to know how I feel and how I think a woman should be treated and how they should demand that men treat them. I just feel like a woman should be treated a certain way, and my album really portrays that from song number one to the last song. My music is catered to women. I wanna be that go-to guy when they need to be sang to, when they need to be massaged and caressed from a musical standpoint. That’s my passion.
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