In April 2012, Atlanta rapper Rich Homie Quan released a debut mixtape titled I Go In on Every Song. That August, he made waves with a sequel called Still Goin’ In, and a year later he reached the Billboard Hip-Hop Albums chart with a forward-thinking follow-up: I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In. Backstage in Charlotte, the 25-year-old appears to be sticking to his word. After he finishes his set at the Fillmore, Quan will head to another club within the city, then drive two hours west to perform in Greenville, South Carolina. He’s excited to play all three, but he admits that even for him, this is a lot of going in. “It’s not a typical night,” he says. “It’s almost like we hit the lottery.”
Born Dequantes Lamar in East Atlanta, Quan first thrived on the baseball diamond, where he played centerfield and had professional ambitions. In 2008, he scored a local hit – “very local,” he jokes – with the song “Stay Down.” Meanwhile, he made money bussing tables at the city’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. That wasn’t enough, though, and he ended up getting arrested for burglary and sent to county jail for 15 months.
Quan first began coming up with rhymes when he was quiet kid interested in poetry, but he soon realized that in order to succeed, he needed to emerge from his shell. “When I got out jail I didn’t want to be shy no more,” he says. “I knew this was all I had and I wanted to go hard at it, so that’s what I did.”
Going hard began to pay off in the summer of 2013, when “Type of Way,” a joyous track mocking petty haters, became an unexpected nationwide smash. He had originally recorded the song as a freestyle, but he realized that it could be more than that after performing it in one night in Cincinnati. “That energy let me know, ‘Quan you might got a hit on your hands,'” he remembers, “Everywhere I went I wanted to hear the song played, and it went from me wanting to hear it played, to me performing it, to it being on the radio – from the radio to shooting the video and then a gold track.”
That rapid success led to collaborations with famous rappers (2 Chainz, YG, Yo Gotti), more gigs and, ultimately, a serious health scare. “I didn’t plan for the song to go that big,” he says. “It went from one show a week to five shows a week, then I started getting tired.” This grind led to a seizure during a video shoot for 2014 single “Walk Through” – Quan fell onto his head, and once he recovered, he decided to pull back a bit. “I was just exhausted, drained out – just not knowing when to tell everybody no.”
Quan is no longer shy, but he remains reserved even as he prepares to hop onstage in front of adoring fans. This has made him an ideal counterpart for Young Thug, an Atlanta eccentric who occasionally wears dresses and raps in a way that confounds basic understanding of the English language. Thug connected Quan with Cash Money’s Birdman, and together the trio released another summer jam (the dreams-and-aspirations anthem “Lifestyle”) and the lauded Rich Gang: Tha Tour Pt. 1 mixtape.
“Bird got all of the hottest beats,” says Quan. “Basically it’s the best of everything: If you don’t make real music down there, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. He put you in the environment and you just can’t help but to make hits.”
At the moment, however, Quan is focusing on his own material. In April, he released his first solo tape in two years: If You Ever Think I Will Stop Goin’ In Ask RR, in which “RR” stands for Royal Rich, the name of his recently-born second son. “Flex (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh)” has become a bouncy spring hit, and the rest of the tape is even more unique, containing an unusual number of ballads and softly-plucked guitar melodies. On the tender closer, “Daddy,” he reflects on a September incident in which his father was shot while working at his Atlanta barbershop.
“I feel like the beats are soulful and bring out the soul in me,” Quan says. “I can get deep with instrumentals like that. It’s just one of the things that’ll stay with me, one of my trademarks.”
Though he wishes he could spend some more time with his own family, but Quan is enjoying life on the road and in the studio. “There are a lot of sacrifices,” he says, “but at the same time you sign up for it and you gotta do it.”
The tape, meanwhile, is supposed to be more upbeat than the ballads might make it seem. “I just wanted to be free, have fun and let people know that I’m enjoying life right now – and let ’em know I haven’t stopped going in.”