Qbala: Takes Foco Love and Hip Hop to the Northwest

By: Rebecca Lapole

Photo By: Adam Bouska

Kalhie “Qbala” Quinones doesn’t know the word quit. Her music and love have been growing strong since 2011, the year she met her fiancée, Arianne, and dropped her first album, My State of Dementia. Since then, she has recorded two more albums, proposed at her album release party in 2015, toured with the Flobots, played Red Rocks, and is now fulfilling her dream of bringing a national touring artist to Fort Collins for her own show. As Qbala and Arianne get packed up to move to the Pacific Northwest on May 1, the Farewell Qbala Show on March 9 @ Hodi’s with Sunspot Jonz of the Living Legends will be one to remember.

“Since I’ve known [Sunspot Jonz], I’ve been trying to get him out here. He’s based out of the Bay Area, Oakland, and we’ve been friends since 2009 or so,” Qbala said. “He said I’m the dopest rapper in CO, and I’m like, ‘is he really showing me that kind of love?! I opened for him one time!’”

Qbala’s confidence in herself she says, “Took awhile … My music creates a story where I put together things I’ve gone through and it helps build courage, strength, and all out positive energy. I get down often, but now I think about it differently. I put pain into a song, and going back and watching [my videos] is therapy for me and seeing the way it affects others… it helps them open up as well.”

She is aware of her opportunities and is grateful for the knowledge she’s gained. “I’ve gotten to do amazing things in life. There might be white privilege, but I believe there is black as well. The question is do you use it to help others or do you just use it for yourself.”

Qbala spent a portion of her life, from high school through college, playing basketball all over the country and overseas, and is now working on what she calls “an underground hip-hop railroad.” She is on the Music District Council and said, “We’re coming together with creative ideas about how I can be an asset from Portland to CO. I plan to be back here often, touring and working with artists like Kind Dub, Shaley Scott, Michael Kirkpatrick, and just be a navigational tool, an outlet for artists to tour there. It’s going to be fun and challenging; as long as I work hard, good things will come. I’m going to miss this place, CO, sorely. It’s going to be tough to wake up and not be two blocks from some of my favorite spots. I’m nervous and scared, but those are good feelings to have when taking a leap of faith. This is part of the expansion of Qbala Music.”

Because of who she is; a strong person who doesn’t allow her illness (MS), her sexuality, her race, or her gender define her, she has a label-free view of success. She explained, “We’re just energy: climb out of society’s box. Success is within the self; how you see yourself and the way that you set and achieve your goals, it’s a daily job and it’s a choice. Just like time, it has many definitions. Success is being able to get up and have another day. It can be the smallest of things. Some days I can’t really feel my left arm, so being able to tie my bandanna is a success. It’s really in everything you do.”

Qbala wants everyone to remember that she will not be gone forever; “I’ll be all up in your box soon!”

More info: 

Facebook.com/Qbala.Music

qbalamusic.bandcamp.com

Hodi’s Tickets: ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1408198