Hip Hop

QN5 Celebrates 10 Years: A Letter From Tonedeff

blame it on Shake May 6, 2010

The above shot is from one of personal favorite moments since the creation of the dopehouse. As some (hopefully many) of you know, back in August we joined forces with the good folks at QN5 to put on their annual Megashow. And as you can see, the turnout was pretty damn impressive. Oh… the show was alright too haha. In a few months we’ll be partnering up again for PackFM’s album release party for his long-awaited I F*cking Hate Rappers LP. But for now I wanted to share a special letter from Tone that he fired off to the Blue Schoolers in celebration of a “decade” in the game

Holy smokes…has it really been 10 years? Well, technically, it’s 13, being that I released The Monotone EP way back in 1997, but I didn’t have the roster then.

Ya know, as a kid, I used to draw my own cassette covers for albums that didn’t exist. Today, I can examine the CD booklets and read credits for over 50 releases (plus a bunch of boxes in my apartment I need to get rid of).

Anytime I reflect on where life has taken me, it’s easy to get lost in the myriad of ‘coulda-woulda-shoulda’ moments but one thing remains abundantly clear: despite the roadblocks (and there have been PLENTY), I STILL manage to release the music I believe in – challenging conventions with NO COMPROMISES.

Still, we’ve managed to infiltrate the MTVs, Rolling Stones, Hot 97s, Lollapaloozas of the world – albeit in a limited capacity – all while refusing to draw from the well of industry formula. In this day and age, I don’t think I have to tell you how rare that is doing what we do. And for all this risk, we’ve been rewarded with one of the most hardcore fan-bases on the planet. And while I may never be able to buy a private plane (or a scooter), that’s the next best thing to wealth I can think of.

100% Independently Independent Indies.

Ya know, alot of things have changed over the years – the industry climate, our roster, our sound, our logo, etc. I’ve seen plenty of indie labels come and go, talented artists call it quits and big distros go belly up – yet, we’ve managed to weather the storm. The irony is that now, with the social media boom, labels are just NOW doing what we’ve been doing since we started, after all the grief they gave us for being “online” early on. Hell, it’s even trendier to have an indie label – (something I thought wasn’t possible way back in 98 when every trust-fund baby was putting our 12” singles). The reality is, 98% of the people that talk about their ‘labels’ are basically just a logo and not much else. I recently read an article in the NY Times about how major labels are having their signed artists post as grassroots ‘indie’ artists to appeal to folks [READ HERE]. But that’s all for show. Those ‘fans’ aren’t dedicated enough to stick around when the pool gets dirty or the air gets thin. They’ll figure that out eventually.

I’ve made a concerted effort to document all of our steps via video, blogs, pictures and of course music, to show you where we came from, why we did it and and how we’ve developed. Through that process, QN5.com has become my own semi-personal family photo/video album. Each show photo triggers floods of memories of how we drove 17 hours for a 30 people in attendance, parading for hours uphill in upstate NY through the snow with boxes of merch in search of a hotel, fucked up sound systems, venue-owner debacles and more. If y’all only knew the half of it, you prolly woulda paid me to quit before buying our releases. But we pushed through all of that, and here we are…still.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Up! Even after 13 years, there’s still plenty of work to do. We’re still reaching further and looking to grow our community. If you’re a blue schooler, then you know the drill already: Each one – teach one. While I still feel that there’s a bit of a deadzone in the public’s attention span, my goal is to see QN5 Music universally regarded as one of the top indie music labels ever. We’re going push as hard as we can to make that happen – and we won’t do it without you.

Fortunately, you’ll have plenty of reasons to cheer us on, as 2010 is 100% on course to accomplish our QK10 Plan in full. I’m already combing over the TON of new music AND visuals that are queued up. I’m still a very firm believer in quality music and community – so we’re not cutting corners, just giving you more of what you love.

Shouts to Mrs. Deff, Pack, Kno, Deacon, Substantial, Kokayi, Mr. SOS, Domingo, Mr. Mecca, Elite, Session, JS-1, Akolades, Chris, Samiha, Kontrast and everyone that’s ever been involved over the years, assisting the kid in his dream – I sincerely appreciate all of your time, talent and loyalty. Special big ups to all the DJs that bump our shit in their sets/mixtapes (we know we haven’t made it easy on you). To all the girls that were dragged to our shows by their boyfriends and are now huge fans (bring your friends next time). If you’re still not up on what we do… there’s no better time than the present.

And of course – THANK YOU TO ALL THE BLUE SCHOOLERS!!!!! Y’all mean the world to us. Just remember, as long as you chip in for gas, we’ll gladly keep driving.

So Happy Cinco De Mayo, you drunken fucks!


As a fan of QN5 since 1998, I sincerely wish the best for each and everyone of them.