Following one of the more tumultuous years in world history, 2021 has been a year defined by renewals and resets. Regardless of what walk of life you come from, having survived a global pandemic likely gave you a new appreciation for things you may have once taken for granted—including screw-face-inducing bars from your favorite rappers. Having used his downtime during the pandemic to build up his war chest, Don Q unloaded a new collection of tracks in October titled Double Or Nothing. The project is Bronx native’s first full-length release in three years.
It’s been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And if you were to ask rap purists, many will admit they’ve welcomed Don Q’s star-making wordplay and measured aggression back with open arms. Spanning 10 songs in length, Double Or Nothing finds its host picking up where he left off on his 2018 release, Don Season 2—hungry and focused as ever. Led by the single “True King,” Double Or Nothing comes on the heels of a handful of guest verses and one-offs like “Flood My Wrist” with A Boogie wit da Hoodie and Lil Uzi Vert, and his appearance alongside Lil Durk on “Shoot” by fellow Highbridge The Label signee Trap Manny.
However, aside from those songs, Don Q has been relatively quiet on the music front before dropping Double Or Nothing last month and returning to the industry. From hosting a lavish release party at Nas-owned NYC eatery Sweet Chick to unveiling accompanying videos for key cuts like “Say That” and “Light Today,” Don Q is living up to the title of his latest offering—he’s determined to up the ante this time around.
Read on for VIBE’s conversation with Don Q about his bold new mixtape, his creative process, and his admiration for J. Cole.
What was your state of mind while creating this project?
Just to come back hard, give the streets what they want, what they’ve been missing. I had to really tap back in, I had to come back to the city and see what’s going on, feel the vibe, come outside. Keep my ear to the streets and just come back with that sh*t that they want.
Double Or Nothing is your first project since releasing Don Season 2 in 2018. What was the reason for the hiatus between full-length releases?
Just label issues at first and then I had family issues that I had to take care of. And then Covid came, so all of that sh*t was back-to-back-to-back. So, I had to take my little time off, but I’m ready now. We’re back. We’re ready to go.
“True King” was released as the lead single from Double Or Nothing. What went into your decision to roll the project out with that particular song?
The energy, how I was talking, the feel. It gave me that feel and made me feel like, “Yeah, I’m back on that sh*t, I know the people gonna wanna hear this one.” This the one that they gonna wanna hear. This the one that’s gonna let them know like, “Aight, he coming back on that sh*t, he ain’t playing.”
Other than “True King,” what are three other songs on Double Or Nothing you’re excited for fans to hear and why?
I’d say “Say That,” I think the females is gonna f**k with that. I ain’t put nothing out for the females in a minute. “Artificial” is my sh*t. That’s like some real pain right there… You feel that sh*t. That sh*t give you chills, goosebumps. And for the third, sh*t, that’s hard. It’s definitely hard to pick.
You recently visited Hot 97 for another Funk Flex freestyle. How do you prepare for those?
I just lock myself in, I just focus up. If I know like a week ahead, I’ll just take that week and lock in. Whenever I be by myself, I’ll just be going over shit, trying to see how I’m gonna approach it. Listening to beats and sh*t like that.
Who are some of the artists you may have taken inspiration from hearing them on Hot 97 back in the day?
G-Unit, Roc-A-Fella, Dipset, Cassidy. That’s like the top right there.
It’s been a few years since you first broke out on the scene. What have been the biggest adjustments you’ve made as a professional artist?
Just how you move, you know? How I moved before, it’s never the same now. Like I can’t just walk around and do sh*t like I used to do before, so everything is different. That’s just how it is when you become a public figure, you just gotta move different.
Fans have been clamoring for an official debut album from you for quite some time. When can the public expect that?
Yeah, I’ma drop a few tapes just to warm n****s back up and then we’re gonna shoot for the debut album.
Who are some artists you’d like to work with that you haven’t yet?
J. Cole. That’s like my No. 1. Anybody else, like, I f**k with everybody. I’ll work with n****s and sh*t, but that’s like a real goal. The way he approach it, I think he’ll push me to do something that I probably ain’t do before. Like he might bring something different.
What would you say fans can expect from Double Or Nothing and Don Q in general moving forward?
Expect the flood, man. That’s how I’m coming. We’re coming correct this time. We’re cooking up another tape for the first quarter. Double Or Nothing is done. I’m working on something else… I ain’t got a title yet, just know it’s cooking up.