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San Quinn

Bringing it Back

San Quinn has been bubbling at the surface of the Bay Area rap scene for more than 15 years with gritty tales of turf life in San Franciscoís Fillmore District, but he still struggles to reach out of the bubble that keeps most northern California rappers out of the national spotlight while other regions dominate. The rapper is hoping to change that with Scokland, the album collaboration with Keak da Sneak, the gristly Oakland rapper who finds himself in a similar situation after the hyphy movement failed to catch on outside of California. San Quinn spoke about his neighborhood and the project with Keak during a phone interview.

SF Station (SFS): Tell me about the Fillmore district that you know?

San Quinn: Back in the days it was the Harlem of the west. I got a lot of my flavor -- some of my habits, good and bad -- from that area. It was real ethnic and black back in the day, but gentrification pushed a lot of people out of the neighborhood. It is still the "Fillmoe", but itís not the same place as it once was. Itís a beautiful place for scenery, but itís also a rough place in San Francisco.

SFS: What are you thoughts on the new developments that have changed the neighborhood?

SQ: I could sit around and be mad because there is nothing I could do to change it back. But Iím just trying to make enough money so I can be a part of the changes that bring something really "Fillmoe" back to the community so we are not totally robbed.

SFS: Where can people that are not from that neighborhood see some of the original Fillmore flavor?

SQ: You can come anywhere between Van Ness and Masonic and between Geary and Haight Street and you will still see "Fillmoe". Itís always been multi-cultural. There was just more of a black presence before crack cocaine, gentrification and prison.

You can see some real "Fillmoe" if you go on my MySpace page and listen to some of my records. You can get an idea of what itís really about.

SFS: What led to your album with Keak the Sneak?

SQ: Keak has always been my guy. We have always talked about how we are from Frisco and Oakland, and we have a big rivalry with the 49ers and the Raiders. Oakland is more dominant because there are more black people, but you know Frisco playas ainít no punks.

It was time to put the project together. We are friends and weíve been through a lot of the same shit in our careers, with the good and the bad. With Obama in the White House, itís time to show some unity anyway.

SFS: On one track, you shout out to your wife and talk about how you donít "mess with sluts." Thatís a rare message that you donít hear a lot in your genre.

SQ: You donít hear that, but that is really the time we are living in. Throwing your dick a party could get you into trouble. Standing by your woman or significant other, they really donít expect to hear that out of us, but that is what time it is. Keak da Sneak is good in his relationship with his wife. Me and my wife are separated, but whenever Iím with somebody Iím totally with them.

We went through the part of having groupies and all of that, and you donít want to bring any babies or rumors home. These women nowadays are our backbone. You want to keep your family, so exult your significant other, because they are the ones that are behind and pushing us when you see us onstage.

SFS: You donít do a lot of Bay Area shows these days. Is that keeping you from building a bigger fan base?

SQ: I ainít tripping about out here, I want to do MTV and BET and all of that. All of the fans are feeling us and really love our shit, but the majority wants to see us do it big. You canít see us do the same thing at a nightclub year in and year out. Itís time for a change and to take it to arenas.

Me and Keak are taking Scokland east of the Mississippi, to the South, and the little places where I have never even been personally. Iím trying to bring it back and shut down AT&T Park.