Quake Matthews talks battling, his comeup, & the power of “Confessions”
To those of you who aren’t in the know, Quake Matthews has been making noise on the East Coast for a decade now. He came up as a young teen battler in the Halifax scene and somehow seamlessly transitioned his skill set to the studio from where he’s built a name for himself as a recording artist.
He’s dropped multiple critically acclaimed projects while collaborating with rap royalty such as Royce da 5’9″ and Grammy-nominated Toronto producers, Tone Mason.
Just recently, Quake was nominated for two awards at the 2019 East Coast Music Awards including Rap/Hip-Hop Recording of the Year, and Song of the Year with Neon Dreams for “Confessions.” His most successful track to date on Spotify is the Merkules and DJ IV-assisted “DFWM” which appeared on his 2017 album, Celebrate the Struggle. The song has been streamed more than 575K times to date, with “Confessions” coming in just behind with 565K streams.
His latest project, Drinking Games, was released independently back in September with features from Deante’ Hitchcock, JRDN, Earl B, and Halifax sensation Ria Mae.
We chopped it up with Mr. Matthews to discuss everything from his hometown to making Justin Trudeau’s Spotify Playlist.
You can find the Q&A below along with the Drinking Games EP (via Spotify), and the new video for Quake and Kayo’s “Ready or Not” single.
Stay tuned for Quake’s new single, “Way Up,” featuring Snak The Ripper.
Q&A: Quake Matthews
HipHopCanada: Kid Quake, what’s good my man? I’ve been looking forward to catching up with you for a while now. I remember when you were like 15-years-old and J-Bru was sneaking you into 19+ clubs, and you were killing guys twice your age in battles. A lot of rappers can’t or have trouble transitioning from the ring to the booth. This doesn’t seem to have been an issue for you. Can you tell us what sets you apart from the norm?
Quake Matthews: As much as I enjoyed battling in the beginning, at some point there was a switch that went off in my head that made me want to make the transition to become an artist. I don’t think anything really sets me apart, I think it’s damn near impossible to do both at a high level simultaneously, especially nowadays where both worlds have evolved so much. With that being said, I’m a huge fan of battle rap and respect the fuck out of what it takes to perform in that arena, it’s just not something I’m able to specialize in anymore because I put too much energy into the music.
HipHopCanada: What’s your background?
Quake Matthews: I’m Lebanese on my dad’s side of the family. Both of my grandparents came over from Lebanon in the 1950’s and had my dad here.
HipHopCanada: What are you working on at the moment? I’ve been bumping the Drinking Games EP and “Grandma’s Cooking” is a standout for me. It has that nostalgic traditional hip-hop storytelling feeling that seems to have been lost in translation for so many artists in this era. How do you manage to stay relevant and maintain substance and integrity in your writing?
Quake Matthews: I’m not working on any specific project right now, but I am increasing the volume of music I make more then ever right now. My strategy is to flood it with free music/content this year, and then maybe drop a new project when the momentum is right.
“Grandma’s Cooking” is definitely my favourite song off the new project. It was a blessing to have my grandmothers voice on the actual record, something I’ll be able to cherish forever. As far as maintaining substance and integrity, records like that come super easy because they are from a real place. It’s not even something I think about. As cliché as it sounds, the best thing to do is to block out everything else and just be yourself. Easier said then done.
HipHopCanada: You’re from Fairview (Halifax, NS). If someone were to ask you what it’s like to live there, describe it in five words or less.
Quake Matthews: Somewhere between heaven and hell.
HipHopCanada: How did it feel to be labeled a “SuperNova Scotian” and held in such high regard by Nova Scotian rap royalty, and what is your relationship to East Coast juggernaut Classified?
Quake Matthews: I’m always super happy to be able to work with Class in any capacity. I grew up listening to him as a kid, and now to see how far he’s taken this thing is really inspiring to me. He showed us that it’s possible to come from here and make a real living doing hip-hop and that’s been my goal from start. Aside from the music thing, he’s just a good dude all around. He doesn’t want it with me in ping pong though (Laughs).
HipHopCanada: Who is Deante’ Hitchcock?
Quake Matthews: Deante’ is a super talented artist from Atlanta. He’s just coming off a tour with 6lack and also took part in the Dreamville sessions J. Cole just put together. He’s going to a lot of noise this year.
As far as how I met him, one day one of my dudes from Halifax was showing me some of his music and told me I gotta work with him. I was really feeling what I heard, so I thought it was a good idea. The next time I was in Atlanta, I asked my OG if he knew him. He said yeah and set us up with a studio session a few days later. Now we try to connect every time I go back. We got like four-five unreleased records in the stash right now too.
HipHopCanada: What is the situation with Halifax group Neon Dreams? Your “Confessions” single still gives me goosebumps very time I hear it. It seems to come from a place of vulnerability and conviction. I’ve always been a fan and follower of your music but that song was the “AHA” moment so to speak for me personally. Also, you performed it at the late DJ SINA’s tribute (R.I.P.) in St. John’s, NL. Was that record influenced by him? Personal struggles / demons or all of the above?
Quake Matthews: That song came together super organically. We actually made it at the Gordie Sampson song writers camp here in Nova Scotia. For people who aren’t familiar, Gordie is an extremely successful songwriter from Nova Scotia. You maybe have heard the song “Jesus Take The Wheel” (Laughs). Anyways, he puts on a camp for young talent every summer where we do sessions all day every day for a week. This particular session was myself, Frank from Neon Dreams and Gordie. Gordie started playing the piano notes, and they struck a chord with me. This was also my first ever session with him, so honestly I was just trying to impress him with my lyrics. They weren’t necessarily about any specific situation, they were vague enough that a lot of people were able to relate their own particular situation to the song.
When Sina passed, this song was already done but not released. A lot of people associate it with him because it was used as the song in his memorial video. That’s where a lot of people heard it first. We shot the video much later so his story did inspire a lot of the imagery used in the video.
As far as me performing at his memorial, that was sheer fate. I was flying over to Europe to start a tour and had a 4 hour layover in St. John’s, Newfoundland on the exact same night. It’s strange because my flight was booked way in advance, even before he passed. For the stars to align on that night was a moment I’ll never forget and always be grateful for. RIP SINA!
HipHopCanada: That single “Confessions” also made Prime Minister Trudeau’s 2018 Summer Spotify Playlist and he tweeted about you. This might be a tough question, but are you pro-Trudeau government?
Quake Matthews: This is probably a bad example to set, but honestly I don’t follow any of that shit (Laughs). I 100% know more about American politics because my mom always watches CNN, but that’s about it. It doesn’t really interest me. I’d rather just focus on what I’m doing.
HipHopCanada: Aside from Sina, what is your connection to Newfoundland? You seem to have a large following there and even released a song called “Newfie Girl” a few years back. Was that something for fun or did you get caught slippin’ and catch feelings for a lovely George Street Lass?
Quake Matthews: My first ever time to Newfoundland is a dope story actually (Laughs). I was talking to Bishop Brigante on Gmail chat one night around supper time. I hadn’t met him at this point, I was probably 19-20 years old. I think he assumed Nova Scotia and & Newfoundland were super close together, because he’s like, come through to the show and you can open up.
I stopped what I was doing, went to the airport, bought a ticket and flew to Newfoundland alone. It’s funny because this was just shortly after the Wise Guys & Offense beef, for those that remember that. [Editor’s note: Keep reading for more on that]
I showed up to his hotel door, we had some drinks and then went and bodied the show. As far as the “Newfie Girls” song, it was inspired by that night. Let’s just say I never saw that level of “friendliness” before (Laughs).
HipHopCanada: You’ve been touring regionally for years now. How important is it to make that personal connection with your fans in todays musical climate?
Quake Matthews: I think it’s everything. Especially now more then ever. There is so much music out there, so many options, you have to go the extra mile to earn a spot in somebodies rotation. That’s why I always try to let my supporters know how truly grateful I am, because no one HAS to support you. So if they do, you should cherish that.
HipHopCanada: Will we see Quake comeback on KOTD?
Quake Matthews: I don’t think so. Like I said before, it’s pretty much impossible to do music and battle at a high level simultaneously. In all reality, where the battle culture is now, if I wanted to go back at a high level, I’d probably have to take a year off music and train on battling every day. My heart just isn’t in it anymore. Besides, we already got the best in the world (Pat Stay) repping for Scotia!
HipHopCanada: You and the 6God (Drake) seem to have a mutual respect for each other. How did that come about and have there ever been talks of OVOQuake?
Quake Matthews: When I was 17-18, I was involved in a legendary HipHopCanada beef (Laughs). I was with a group called The Offense (Littles , Cali Snipes, Aristo, Sayzee etc.) and Drake was with a group called the Wise Guys (Bishop Brigante, JD Era, Young Tony, Ken Masters etc.)
I’m actually not even really sure how the beef started, I was just a young hungry battle guy and Littles told me we were going at Drake and others so I went in.
Like two years later, at the 2009 or 2010 JUNOs in Newfoundland, me and Drake were both in this VIP section and we saw each other and just started laughing. I honestly didn’t even think he’d know me. This was after So Far Gone so he was already world famous by this point. We took a minute to reminisce, I congratulated him on his success and told me he messes with my music. Every single time I’ve seen him since it’s been nothing but love. Super good dude, it’s honourable how humble he is as a person, when he’s clearly the biggest rapper in the world.
HipHopCanada: What do you have in the works for 2019? Albums? Singles? Touring? More features etc?
Quake Matthews: I got a single called “Way Up” with Snak The Ripper on the way. Other then that, just look out for tons of new content. Singles, freestyles, videos, etc. I’m flooding it this year, and I will likely be in a town near you soon too.
HipHopCanada: Where can the people find your music and what do you recommend they listen to first?
Quake Matthews: They can find me on all streaming platforms. I have a Spotify playlist called Best Of Quake Matthews with all my favourite joints over the past 8-9 years. That’s probably a good place to start.
HipHopCanada: Thanks for your time and here’s to a huge 2019!
Quake Matthews: Thank you homie, peace!
Be sure to check out the official Quake Matthews website for tour dates and merchandise.
Written by Uncle Buck for HipHopCanada