Podcast: Quest Soul on His Music and Hip Hop

Airick Smith is a hip hop artist in Los Angeles. Smith, who records using the name Quest Soul  reached out to me through Twitter, probably after seeing The Daily Music Break.

We communicated over Twitter, spoke and decided to do a podcast. I had a certain amount of unease about it. Not only am I decades older than Airick, but his music tells a life story that, to say the least, I haven’t experienced.

Just introducing him as an up-and-coming hip-hop artist without dealing with the larger issues the gulf between us seemed silly. And it certainly wouldn’t have been consistent with the reason I started this website, which is to put some context around different musical genres.questsoul

My goal for the interview therefore was to go beyond asking Airick about his music. I wanted to touch on hip-hop’s place in the broader American culture. It logically follows that race had to be part of the conversation.

That’s not completely comfortable. But, generally, the difficult conversations are the most important and ultimately the most rewarding ones to have. I enjoyed it and learned a lot. (Airick’s tweets @RealQuestSoul.)

The other reason that I am interested in hip hop is that it is contemporary. There is a lot of brilliant music around. A lot of it is at this site. In almost all cases, it is music from the past. Hip hop is commentary on what is happening now. Whatever it says — both musically and culturally — is current. That alone makes it important.

Quest Soul on his music and hip hop:


The introductory music — Quest Soul’s “Lose My Life” — runs longer than a typical introduction. The interview starts at about the two minute mark.

  • Tom

    This is an excellent interview! Thank you for your fearlessness to engage with different viewpoints, Carl. I really learned a great deal about QS, and about hip-hop, by listening to your conversation. In particular the illuminating exchange on language propriety, and the N-word – thanks for sticking with that, I don’t think I have heard anyone try so unguardedly or so well to really work through that topic and with such genuine engagement.

    • Carl

      Tom, thanks so much for this very nice comment. It truly is appreciated. After listening to Airick’s music, it seemed silly to not try to get into those questions. Once I spoke to him it was clear that he was game, so it was actually easy and fun. I wouldn’t have asked him those questions without first checking out with him whether he wanted to go there. Again, thanks for your comment, and for listening to the podcast. Now, back to politics…

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