One look at Quanstar’s resumé is enough to light a fire under even the most motivated individual. Not only is he a rapper, comic book artist, filmmaker, author, cooking show host and Android app developer — as well as a student, husband and father of three — but he foots the bill for each of his endeavors.
The Compton-born, Atlanta-based Renaissance man performs at Timo’s House on Thursday, Nov. 17, in support of his two latest projects: the hip-hop album Play Games Volume 2 and a double issue of his comic series, A Rapper’s Words. The show marks his 10th time at the Biltmore Avenue venue in the past five years. With Coach K as his DJ, Quanstar takes to the stage with fellow rapper Evaready RAW, with whom he started his musical career in the hip-hop band First Team. The two now tour together as solo artists, mixing in both artists’ songs and working off of each other in their shared set.
Play Games Volume 2 is Quanstar’s 12th album and features the MC’s socially conscious rhymes and infectious flow over jazzy production by the brotherly tandem LexZyne. The collaboration was sparked roughly six years ago when the pair contacted Quanstar on Twitter, asking if they could send him some beats. He gave them the green light and three months later had 5GBs worth of instrumentals from them. They’ve since worked together on his last five albums, all other aspects of which Quanstar handles himself.
“I used to do studios, but I do so much that it just becomes expensive,” Quanstar says. “In order to do certain things, I need certain allowances, so I figured it out. I set up my home studio, I invested in a mic and, over the years, as I’m putting out projects, I’m teaching myself how to mix better and master and stuff like that.”
Quanstar takes a similar approach to A Rapper’s Words, the latest issue of which combines Vol. 2 and 3 in the same printing. For each installment, Quanstar takes the lyrics from one of his songs and visualizes each line illustrated frame by frame. After he writes out the overall story, he indicates what he’d like to see in each frame from Brazilian artist Rafa Lee, with whom he connected on the website Deviant Art.
“I do it, drop in a [folder through the online file hosting service] DropBox, he’ll draw it up, send back a sketch. [I’ll say,] ‘Yes, I like this. No, I like this. Could you change that?,’ send it back to him, and we just keep going back and forth off of each other for a couple of months,” Quanstar says.
If those projects and touring weren’t enough, much of Quanstar’s time this fall and winter will be consumed with editing his debut feature film, They Told Me This Would Sell. The title stems from the suspect advice people have given him over the years regarding ways to increase his commercial appeal. Back in 2012, Quanstar wrote and recorded a satirical concept album about how heeding such artistically compromising counsel is rife with negative consequences. Once his wife heard the songs, she suggested he delay the release and develop his ideas into a larger work. Already in the planning stages of writing a handful of short films, he adapted the album into a 98-page screenplay and immersed himself in the craft.
Freaked out by “dumbass articles” claiming that independent films cost between $250,000 and $10 million, Quanstar mapped out his budget and realized he could make the film for under $10,000. Family members let him use their homes and cars for the production, his actor acquaintances recruited other veteran screen performers, and he filled in the blanks with his friends. Co-director Anthony Neal, the man behind the Quanstar documentary Do It!, provided guidance in setting up shots and other directorial advice, but otherwise Quanstar learned about filmmaking’s technical aspects and techniques on the fly.
Shooting spanned a year and a half. With most of the songs from the album that inspired They Told Me This Would Sell being performed in the movie, Quanstar calls it “a hip-hop musical, in a way.” It’s set for a spring release and will go straight to DVD in tandem with a film tour. Starting with 10 cities and ideally expanding to another 10, the plan is to host a free screening — Asheville Brewing Co.’s theater is a proposed site — followed by a performance at a local venue. Also slated for the new year is the film’s soundtrack, an EP with Asheville’s Underground Unheard crew and another solo album, answering any doubt regarding the common bond between Quanstar’s myriad artistic interests.
“They all intertwine because it all comes back to music. The book I wrote [Water From Turnips] is about music. The movie is about Quanstar, an artist in an alternate reality, and it has an album. I’m writing another book that’s a spinoff of the movie, the comic book is about my music, so everything stems from that part,” he says. “My music is the root from where the tree grows, so to speak, so all the branches that happen, it still comes back to music.”
WHO: Quanstar with Coach K, Evaready RAW and Bobby FKN White
WHERE: Timo’s House, 5 Biltmore Ave., timos-house.com
WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 17, 10 p.m. Free