by Anthony Cross
In my life so far, I have observed the rise and fall of many artists. Many of these, who start locally and eventually make it, tend to hold their earlier albums in a lesser regard, perhaps to do with having a major label, or just wanting to forget the earlier days of struggle and artist development. This trend seems to be consistent with the majority of artists who have ever climbed the ladder of stardom. However, rising hip hop star Qbala is certainly not belonging to this majority.
Due to some precocious time constraints, (Q works three separate jobs to chase the dream) our correspondence was short and electronic. Knowing Q for quite some time now, however, I am accustomed to her direct persona. When asked how she is changing as an artist, she gave this definitive quote :
“I have been seeing things for what they really are lately and have been using music to bitch about it.”
That about sums it up, really. This stage in any artist’s career is important; the stage of gaining true self awareness. We can expect stylistic changes to the repertoire because of this in the near future. I can only expect Battle Cries is going to change Qbala’s world in the future. When I asked about the new album, Q had this to say :
“Battle Cries is a continuation in the sense that I am still dealing with emotions, pain, and struggle from my last EP’s topics. Will I ever move on from these? I’m not certain. What I feel is that in order to do so I must write about it all. The difference between the two EP’s is that I am growing while figuring these distractions out, while writing so there is a lot more emotion and energy behind the production. Dark Side of the Rain was released in December, 2014. Not much time has passed. Within that time, I as an artist have begun to take more responsibility for my movements and my words. As a person, I feel ready to take that next step, that leap of faith. I began loving myself more and allowing myself to be free. My songwriting is changing because I want to mix a real message with beats that make people move!”
Qbala added more insight about the new release: “The energy behind Battle Cries is intense. There are ups and downs, just as there are in all our lives. It is really about the release of that and thinking, “Let it go, SHOUT IT OUT and MOVE ON!” I chose this title because of that very reason. We are battling daily with self-doubt, envy, guilt, happiness….all kinds of feelings. Battle Cries is full of bursts of energy being released from a hateful domain. I’m letting it all go.”
When it comes to promotion, Q is an avid supporter of unusual advertising tactics that often pay off handsomely. This time, it is a custom brewed beer with Pateros Creek Brewing Company, which is currently brewing “Battle Cries Stout,” a salted caramel chocolate milk stout that will be released October 13, at a launch and listening party at the brewery. New songs from Battle Cries will be shared while patrons sip their first taste of the new, limited edition stout in Qbala’s name. When questioned about how Qbala broke into the beer industry, she stated:
“I LOVE BEER and Pateros Creek LOVES HIP HOP! Maybe there was a bit of manifestation happening when I threw “Hip Hops” last year, a series of shows over a week, which featured different venues, including Pateros, and a total of 22 artists. Steve Jones at Pateros Creek is awesome and we have a great working friendship. They actually offer a collaborative brew if you’re dope! Connecting with the community by co-branding is huge and I am game. I have faith we will push 310 gallons of Battle Cries Stout with ease. Go get it now!”
We are seeing Qbala in a vital transition. This moment in time, or rather the release show itself, will mark a significant point in this relatively fresh artist’s career and undeniably a pivotal piece of the burgeoning hip hop scene of Qbala’s home state of Colorado.
“I know I can make songs people love, learn and heal from. Now what else can I do? The sky is the limit and I want to take it there.”
Judging by that final statement and some upcoming touring through the Front Range and Midwest, we still have some exciting performances and releases to look forward to from Qbala. I at least hope to see much growth in the next couple of months, and I am looking forward to what the next step will be for her. I imagine this might be one of the few times we see someone in hip hop from this area break the mold, and we will remember some of the early years with fond memories while creating a sense of novelty amongst the significant audience already attained by the rising star Qbala.
RELEASE PARTIES: 10/13 Pateros Creek,
6 pm; 10/16 The Whisk(e)y, 8 pm.