“Who is Que?” has been question on everyone’s minds ever since hearing “OG Bobby Johnson” last year. The veritable banger has spawned a remix with Snoop Dogg, Pusha T and A$AP Ferg as well as a slew of unofficial takes from the likes of T.I., French Montana and Future. Now, all eyes are on the track’s mastermind, Atlanta rapper Que. The 23-year-old recently inked a deal with Atlantic Records and is embarking on his first solo mixtape, Who is Que?. The neophyte spoke to Vibe about being rap’s new kid on the block and how he’s creating a name for himself beyond his viral hit. —Sowmya Krishnamurthy
VIBE: Did you know that “OG Bobby Johnson” was going to be a hit when you were recording it?
Que: Nah. Actually I didn’t. I just went in and did a song. I had fun with it. When I do songs, I don’t do them with intentions of trying to make hits. I do them with the intention of having fun.
What was the definitive moment when you realized “OG Bobby Johnson” was special?
When LeBron [James] Instagrammed it. That kind of sealed the deal for me.
I read somewhere that you came up playing basketball as a kid. How was it then, to have LeBron like your song?
It was dope. I’m a fan of him. I call it an “unintentional co-sign.” He was smiling when he did it. He recorded himself and let the world know it was his theme song for game day instead of just tweeting about it.
Have you connected with LeBron since the Instagram?
Nah, nah, nah. We didn’t actually.
You recently dropped the “OG Bobby Johnson (Remix).” How did you decide on the mix of features?
As far as Snoop, he’s the OG for real. I’m a fan of Pusha T and Ferg [too]. They got a lot going on right now. I just felt like the sound fit nice on the beat. Yeah I put it together with DJ Drama and Don Cannon.
“OG Bobby Johnson” is a reference to South Central and your latest track is called “Jungle Fever.” What’s with the movie references? Are you a film buff?
Nah. I didn’t even think about Jungle Fever until after. After I did the song, a month after, I was like “Damn. Jungle Fever is a movie title.” I just go in and have fun with it. If it happens, I guess. Movie titles or whatever.
What inspired “Jungle Fever”? A real-life romance?
[Laughs]. It was just playing around. Having fun. Go get in the studio. It may be the most random shit. You and me may have the most random conversation. I tell a joke on you and you tell a joke on me and I’m like, “Oh shit. That’s a hard line. I could make that into a hook.”
What’s your studio process?
I have ideas that pop into my head randomly. I be at the club or whatever. I jot them down, as far as little lines. Mostly, I let the beat come to me. The beat tells me what to say. Every song I do, the beat puts the words in my head. Once a beat comes on, it automatically tells me what to say. If not, I go to the next beat.
Since beats are so important to you, how then did you decide on the producers you’ve worked with?
Those producers are the dopest producers out now. Metro Boomin and Zaytoven. Mustard, etc. Beside them, Pharrell and Timbaland are the dopest producers. Who else? My age? [It’s a] young movement. I’d rather keep it in this generation.
Is it important to go with younger names versus established producers?
Yeah. Personally to me it is. I want to build. If I go straight to Pharrell or Timbaland, what the hell can you do next? Who you gonna get a beat from now? Ain’t nobody bigger than Pharrell.
Not to mention spending all of your budget on one beat.
Do you feel famous right now?
Nah. There’s no such thing as making it, to me. You just keep coming back to back songs. Just keep getting recognition. I don’t believe in fame. I just have supporters.
What’s the biggest misconception you’d share with other new rappers?
They think this shit is easy. They just see the money, the cars, the turn up. They don’t see the work that’s put in behind it. They don’t see the no sleep. It’s really work. Are you gonna be lazy? Are you gonna do what you’re supposed to do? Are you gonna get caught up in the one song?
What keeps you going?
My people. My peers. My family. Everyone that I keep around me. When I do get lax, they keep me on my toes.
Have your family or friends started to treat you different?
Yeah of course. People always, “When you get money, you change.” I believe that people around you change. They put you on a higher standard. You’re still the same person. You just have more recognition.
You’re gearing up for your first SXSW this week. What are you doing? Are you nervous?
I’m doing NiceKicks, 2DopeBoyz. A whole bunch of shows. It’s dope. Build a bigger buzz. Build a bigger fan base. Show my face to all those who haven’t seen my face. I’m not nervous. I’ve never done SXSW before. I’m excited to see what it’s like. As far as nervous? Nah.
Who is Que? is the name of your forthcoming mixtape. Why don’t people know who you are?
The song got bigger than I ever knew. I don’t feel like the song is bigger than me but it got big. Maybe my name is “Que” and it’s so simple. It’s not Young Que or Slim Que. Just Que. I mean, it’s me. That’s what I’ve been called all my life.
Is it frustrating to have to follow such a big song?
It don’t bother me at all. Eventually they’ll know me. It’s like basketball. If you shoot the first three it’s cool but you shoot the next two and it’s like “Alright. This nigga can actually shoot.” It’s the same thing. They won’t have the choice but to notice me.
So, who is Que?
Like I tell everybody, go listen to it. If you ask about a movie, nobody will tell you. They’ll say, “Go see it.”
If you’re in Austin, check Que at 2Dopeboyz showcase tomorrow (March 14). Details/RSVP here.