We first met Qwel about 12 years ago. He was visiting his family in a nearby city and we somehow connected online and ended up spending a weekend together.
We were hanging out listening to some of his unreleased music and he said something to the effect of Chicago having the best Mexican food in the world. Living in New Mexico at the time, we felt compelled to help him out with his confusion so we figured the best place to take him was to the most authentic place we could think of – wifey’s mama’s kitchen. She, of course, came through with the best damn green chile enchiladas and New Mexico got its props. This was followed by a day trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico. It was a weekend well spent.
Since that time, we’ve ran into him off and on several times and he’s put out more than a dozen albums, plus ep’s, mixtapes and collaborations. I caught up with him again, recently, while he was on tour promoting his new album with Maker, Beautiful Raw. It was good to reconnect. We’ve all come a long way from those young, wild and carefree (essentially) kids that we were 12 years ago. We’re now married with kids, and have gardens – we’ve calmed down quite a bit and started to focus more on what’s important in the world.
“Man for years, I was sleepwalking through life. Now I’m really conscious about what I eat. I’ve got a three sisters garden. Yo, I run now – I never exercised in my life and now I can run 5 miles like…yo, I’ve lost like 50 pounds. Real talk.”
It was interesting to see the parallels and similar courses our lives have taken because we were both excited to talk food and share ideas on healthy eating. We talked about staying away from sugar and eating whole foods. It was real cool to see how we were on the same wavelength when it came to that kind of stuff. I think the last time our paths crossed I was taking a shot with him for his birthday backstage at a Galapagos 4 Reunion show. He was carrying around a bottle and aside from me being vegetarian at that time, I don’t think either of us were even close to the healthy eating tip we’re on now.
“Man, you just gotta take care to – yo, let thy medicine be thy food and thy food be thy medicine. Growing your own food? That’s where it’s at. I love cooking. Just throwing down. It’s just fun, it’s mad easy and fun if you just beef – like alright, I got the egg roll wraps, the peanut oil, you go pick your shit and I’ll go pick my shit. Do the wildest shit. And I’ll just fuck you up. Then you go and you beef. It’s fun. It’s healthy.”
We definitely love to collaborate on meals here in The Kitchen. One of our favorite things to do is to prepare the basis for a meal – say the sun-oven cooked beans and cilantro rice for the nachos and then have friends bring over something to add to or to accompany what we’ve prepared. It’s a great way to prepare a meal together and keep the creativity at a high level all around.
“That’s what I love about cooking. The combinations like the chimichurri sauce. It’s mad simple. The parsley, garlic and olive oil…it doesn’t taste like part parsley, part garlic and part olive oil. It does something else. It bonds. It’s funny, when I first started cooking I would brag like, “Yo, I can cook.” And then my boy started breaking down cooking to me. Like, if you’re gonna eat garlic chop it for like 15 minutes and let it oxidize for like 15 minutes. Because you let it air out. When it oxidizes it takes the burn out. It just turns into what it should be. He just started breaking it down for me. He would come thru and show me how to use capers. I would see them in the store and not know what it was. Man, heart of palm…that’s one of my favorite – I love the vinegar spectrum. If I cook any kind of white meat…vinegar. Vinegar. I love it, dude. It breaks it down kills the enzyme in it. It’s not all saurkraut-y and shit. I love it. Mustard…I love that shit.”
He kicked me down some tips on cooking with vinegar and it’s many uses. Gonna be adding that into the mix real soon. Some great advice. And you know I had to ask him about what his favorite thing to hook up in the kitchen is.
“We get down, man. I like fried chicken. I think frying chicken, there’s like two stages. To see if you know what you’re doing. Like, how does it taste when it’s fresh and how does it taste cold. Chicken’s gotta stand up to the fridge. It has to. But yeah, fried chicken. I just don’t like bougie.”
We talked quite a bit about food but then I had to switch it up and talk to him about the new album. If you haven’t heard Beautiful Raw yet, you’re slippin’. This album is slammin! It’s solid front to back.
I asked him about the collabs on the album. I was surprised to see others on the record because all the past Qwel and Maker stuff in the past has been solely a two man effort. However on this most recent project they’ve got guest verses from The Grouch, Qwaazar, Scud One, Swampburger, and Wes Restless. They enlisted the help of D-Styles and Biz Kid to handle scratch duties on a few tracks. They also recruited outside help for the live instrumentaion. Qwel slid me a copy of the new CD which had just come out two days before. However, I still had to go ahead and get myself a copy of the project on cassette. There are only 200 copies of the album in that format. Limited edition…only for the die hards.
Beautiful Raw is an album that will be getting lots of sound space around here. Maker is one of the most consistent producers out there so you know you’re getting Grade A quality from that end. And Qwel? I was blown away by his skills from the first time I heard him on the first Typical Cats release. And as usual he gives us nothing less here.
In case you haven’t heard anything off that first TC album…
For those of you that missed it, the third release from the Typical Cats camp came out last year. I was impressed by it and did my best to let the people know that it was not an album to be missed.
And in case you’re wondering how Qwel has the time to put out such high quality goods…
Here’s my recommendation: If these dudes happen to be passing through your town, do not miss the opportunity to listen to some great live music (and pick up the album at the merch table). Qwel is known for the energy in his live shows.
“They don’t even know, man. I’m about to murder it right now. Real talk. Did you know that some species of owls die of starvation because if they don’t catch their prey on the first try, they won’t even attempt a second fly by? They’re proud. [Shows me the owl tat on his arm] I’m about to kill it right now, yo.”
And he did.
Be sure to stay up on everything Qwel and Maker by following them on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Instagram or hitting up Galapagos4.com.