Music during the 90s made a lasting impact on the future of America’s soundtrack. You can’t mention the 90s without talking about the group 112. Rooted in gospel, soul, and hip hop; Q, Mike, Slim, and Daron made up the group 112 that emerged from Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records as a successful urban vocal group with mainstream appeal. 

With seven Top Ten R&B hits and a pair of multi-platinum albums, the group is known for songs like “Peaches and Cream,” “Cupid,” and the Grammy Award winning single, “I’ll be Missing You” with Faith Evans and Sean Combs.

The quartet reunited and released their first album in 12 years in 2017, Q, Mike, Slim, Daron, featuring the song “Dangerous Games.”

Quinnes “Q” Parker stepped out as a solo artist in the late 2000s with his official solo project debuting at number 28 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.

Parker also has a list of production credits under his belt including writing for 112, co-writing singles like “I Should Have Cheated” for Keyshia Cole, and “Questions” for Chris Brown to name a few. He recently announced signing as a solo artist to the Entertainment One Nashville label to release new music. 

Q Parker spoke with the National Museum of African American Music a couple of months ago about his musical influences, making a mark in the industry as a part of the Bad Boy family, and giving back to the community. 

NMAAM: Talk about how music became a huge impact of your life.

QP: Wow. As far as I can remember music has always been like my thing. It has always been my it. It has been my safety valve, my calm, my stress reliever, my coping mechanism. It has always been that thing for me. Even when I was in high school and middle school playing sports, I was always the guy on the field singing. You could always hear or know when I was coming because, as you saw, when I walk into a room [I sing]. As far as 4 years old, I can remember singing and being in love with it. I started singing in church. That’s where my gift was cultivated and nurtured. And then I went on to compete in the city choirs and city choruses. I was a part of the Atlanta Boy Choir. Moving into high school and middle school but middle school first that’s when I met the rest of the guys, my fellow brothers of 112. In high school, when we matriculated into our high school that when we first sang for Puff. That’s when the musical career of 112 started, in 1994, and then our first single was in 1996.

Who were some of your music influences growing up?

QP: A lot of gospel. Definitely, John P. Kee, Commissioned, James Moore, Take 6. Because I grew up COGIC, our parents didn’t allow us to listen to secular music in the house.  So when I went to [other people’s houses] I listened to some things like the Osmond Brothers, Brian McKnight, BabyFace, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and like all the groups from After 7, Boyz II Men, Jodeci, Silk, Shai, Troop, II D Extreme, LeVert, and the O’Jays, Joy, The Everettes, Blues Brothers, Helen Baylor, and Anita Baker.

So after meeting with 112 in middle school and you rehearsed and performed for Puffy, from what I understand he put you on the Bad Boy label. What was it like during that experience? Did you know that you were going to be a part of history? What was that like?

QP: At the time we did not know that. Our main goal was to just I think to get on the radio and to hear ourselves on the radio. Because hearing yourself on the radio was kinda like a sign of  you’ve made it. Our story is similar to that of the Five Heartbeats or the Temptations story when everyone gathers up and hovers around the radio and it’s like “I can’t believe that’s us,” on the radio. No, we had no idea. We didn’t even have the idea that Bad Boy would become this iconic era dominating record label. To be a part of that, I am so proud. Because no matter what story gets told when you talk about the story of hip hop and R&B you cannot talk about the Bad Boy era and the dominance that it had. You can’t mention the Bad Boy era without mentioning Q, Mike, Slim, and Daron, so we will forever be tied to the music industry. That is something that I am very proud of because everything you do, you do it to make a mark. That’s a part of my legacy. 

Now we are seeing so much of 90s music come back and copying what you guys have done with the whole sound and the New Jack Swing sound. What are your thoughts on that?

QP: I love it. I love it. Music will contact the soul and it will find you. And so, when we embrace all these new styles of R&B and these new styles of hip hop, some things they never really go away. Some things, they might be tucked away for a second but they will always make their way back. The true essence of R&B, the substance that is in the classical R&B records, you see now is starting to make its way back. A lot of today’s current artists are sampling songs and they are taking the hooks and flipping them because you can’t get away from the substance and the real aspect of what R&B really was in the late 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. You just cannot get away from it. Even the current artists, their understanding is that when they really want to get something let’s go back and take it to one of those records and infuse it with what we are doing today.

They’re using the same chord structures and everything because it was so influential. So, what was it like 20 years later to tour and see all the love from the community, the Bad Boy family and the other tours that followed? 

QP:  The ultimate show of gratitude is to put our records and put out music and people will think of it enough to spend their hard earned money to buy a ticket to come see you and that happens consistently night after night stadiums, arenas, theaters. It’s so packed it is so humbling because it’s like I know where I came from and I know what we didn’t have growing up and to see this little young man from the inner city of Atlanta that has made an impact on millions. You can’t imagine how many times people will come up to me or to the group to say your songs had played a major impact on my life. Your songs are the soundtrack to my life when I hear “Cupid” I know exactly what I was going through or when I hear  “Dance with me” or “Anywhere” and I know exactly what stage of my life I was in and that’s what great music does.

That is why tonight is so special and why I created this whole “Tribute to the 90s Number Ones,” because that 90s era is so nostalgic and it is so captivating, so when you are in the crowd tonight you are going to feel every last one of the songs we perform because it will tell a story and play a part in the story of all of our lives. 

Talk more about your Q Parker Foundation.

QP:  I started the foundation five years ago and it is called the Q Parker Legacy Foundation and the goal and the mission of QPLF is simply to touch every aspect of family. We believe that if we really focus on the family it contributes to a better community. Which also lends a better city, state, nation and even abroad. Just for the greater good. So, what we do throughout the year, every year we make sure we identify the demographics. We have things that are specifically designed for youth. We have things that are specifically designed for men, for women, for couples, for seniors, for our youth which is our summer camp and mentoring program through those organizations underneath QPLF, we do major thing many things. You know some people may say man you guys do too much but that is how much I feel I owe back to the community. As a product of a community as one that was able to get out of the community and was able to make something of myself and gain influence and um be a mentor and a leader it is my duty and my responsibility to go back because I was once there. And so I can never have this platform and keep it all to myself. When my day is called cant none of this stuff go with me and so because I have platform and this level of influence it is my responsibility and I charge everybody that is a part of QPLF and that’s a part of our organizations once you get what we are giving now it is your responsibility to now pass it on. That’s how the cycle completes itself. We owe it to each other to be my brother’s keeper, my sister’s keeper, my community’s keeper, my family’s keeper. This is our responsibility to make sure our senior citizens are not forgotten; to pour into our youth but to also be in relation with our brothers, and our sisters and as a unit couples so that the family component can be solid and so those are all the things that we do at Q Parker Legacy Foundation throughout the entire year.

Community is so important to us as well as an organization that is sharing a unique narrative of an untold story. On that theme of legacy tell me why believe that preserving black music is important and why is black music important for you?

QP: I mean listen, we created it. You can’t tell the story of our people without music. Music is the way spoke. Music is the way that we communicated. Music is the way that we healed, that we gained confidence. It was the way we get through. We sang through our struggles. We sang through our pain. We sing through our happiness. And so, music really at its origin is the soundtrack of our  lives.

Did you know that our tagline was Experience the American soundtrack? We recently changed it to One Nation Under A Groove.

QP: I did not know that but see that’s how we see it. But everyone has taken things from what we created but music at its core is the soundtrack off our backs. And people took pieces and made other genres and all that kind of stuff. But, man it originated with us and how could you tell our story without incorporating music?

To hear the audio from this interview click here: