“Maryland Baby” Aquil VCR has been putting on for the DMV since his breakout last year. Behind popular singles like “Green Roses” and “Eddie Guerrero,” Waldorf’s own has opened up for the likes of PnB Rock and co-headlined alongside names like Ugly God, both 2017 XXL Freshmen. In his latest trip to the Fillmore in Silver Spring, MD, he performed alongside D.C.’s own Shy Glizzy and WillThaRapper. Only a year into his young, blossoming career, he’s shown an uncanny ability to maneuver the competitive music scene within the DMV and create a lane of his own.
Even with his impressive resume to-date, if you get the chance to talk to him, he remains humble about what he’s been able to accomplish in a year’s time. Since his debut project No Valentines released last February, Aquil’s been moving at full speed ever since. From performing outside of shows with car speakers as his backup in front of 10 people to taking the stage in front of hundreds, Fall Records’ own serves as a testimony to consistent, hard work.
However, even as his stock continues to rise, he brings Waldorf, MD with him. “I carry that on my back,” he said when asked about his hometown pride. Not only does he carry Waldorf with him, his goal is to bring unity throughout the region known as the DMV (D.C. – Maryland – Virginia). Read below to find out about his journey thus far as an artist, and what he hopes to accomplish for his future plans.
Justice Gray: Why do you think you’ve had some people say they don’t want to listen to music from Waldorf?
Aquil VCR: It’s not necessarily that they don’t want to hear. It’s more-so that I don’t sound like everybody else – I don’t fit. Especially when I come out stamping Waldorf hard. I put that on my back. I don’t care that people talk crazy about it. I’ve seen most of the DMV rappers in Waldorf. I love it. I just feel like sometimes people don’t know what to expect.
Justice: What’s it like in Waldorf?
Aquil: You gotta link up with people. It’s not much to do by yourself. It ain’t popping yet – I’m trying to get it poppin.
Justice: What’s the music scene in Waldorf like?
Aquil: The music scene is growing. It’s like a new age type situation. It’s picking up fast. People always been rapping and making music. It was just a case of who’s being noticed. To the outside, it’s pretty new. Out of all the artists in Waldorf, we got enough sounds to have our own.
Justice: The second half of your stage name, VCR, means “Visionaries Create Realities.” Explain what that means to you.
Aquil: To me, that’s the formula to life. You gotta be a visionary – you gotta have the vision first. You gotta create. Create doesn’t mean it’s a thing yet, that could be just creating the blueprint. Then you have to turn it into a reality. Anything you really want to do, you’re going to have to do those three steps.
Justice: There’s a line on “Green Roses” that goes “I was born in 95, I’m two ahead of my time.” Why do you feel that way?
Aquil: I feel like I came out in ’95, but in ’93 my spirit was roaming the Earth. That’s where the whole visionary thing comes from. Most visionaries are misunderstood because they can see what other people don’t see.
Justice: The first time I ever saw you perform was outside of a show at G10 in Baltimore. Now, you’re at the Filmore. What’s the transition been like?
Aquil: God is good. It’s definitely a blessing. I prayed for it. But on the flipside, I told y’all. I didn’t just get put on the Pineapple Express show. She had a show and I was a fan showing support. I said let me go in the crowd and show love like I would want. Then, at the let out, I literally gave a show outside and people [liked] it. She said “do you want to be in my next one?” and she put me in there. She didn’t pick me like everybody else. I proved it to her, she didn’t hand it to me. I perform in front of my 10 people crowd the same way I perform at my 100 people crowd, the same way I performed in front of the 2,000 people crowd for the PnB Rock show. It’s the same difference for me. At the same time, it’s a blessing. You have to do the right thing 1,000 times before you get the reward for it. You have to stay up late and study every night. If you stay up one night, you not gonna get the reward for it. Put in those extra hours at the studio every time you go to the studio before it actually starts paying off. I was trying to give the best show I could in front of 10 people so that it could go up.
Justice: What have you learned since you’ve started this as a career?
Aquil: I’m not even gonna lie to you, I studied before I even started. I watched so carefully. That’s why I came in not making a whole lot of mistakes. A lot of people come in and try to start beef, jock somebody’s style, you know what I’m saying? They don’t take it serious, but those are serious penalties – they can really fuck you up in the game…The biggest thing I’ve learned so far though is how fake the music stuff is. The music industry is wrestling, it’s WWE. Wrestling and music are the exact same thing.
Justice: What did you learn when you studied?
Aquil: Everything that you see me doing now. I wasn’t a rapper, I was a manager. I was in a group. Long story short, nobody wanted to listen to the young [guy]. I started doing my own thing. I took notes. I learned that it’s a process. You gotta map everything out. Everything’s got to make sense. People be making moves just for the sake of making moves. I make my next move my best move every single time. I took a billion baby steps. I made sure every little thing was right. I studied. I didn’t come in here just to say I’m a rapper. My mama still going to work. I don’t have a job, I do this full time…I feel like I’m the best rapper. So if I’m the best rapper, nobody is my competition. Therefore, if anything, I should be tryna help [people] – not try to hold them back. If you feel like you’re better than somebody, why hate on them? That’s why we threw ‘Catch Us Now,’ to help artists we believe in, or think have talent. We gave people their first performance. The night of my third performance, we were giving people their first performance…Quality beats quantity. But when you have high quality at a large quantity, then it’s a wrap – you can’t lose.
Justice: What’s your progression as an artist been like from Deity to Kill?
Aquil: Deity wasn’t just my project. It was me and my cousin. On Kill, you got to hear me in my entirety. From Kill to No Valentines, No Valentines was more personal.
Justice: Which sound do you like more?
Aquil: I be tired of turning up [laughs]. I don’t be like that. [My manager] goes out there on stage and gets hype.
Justice: Your biggest record to date is probably “Eddie Guerrero,” one of those hype songs. What are your top five wrestlers of all time?
Aquil: The Rock, Jeff Hardy, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Hurricane, and Rey Mysterio.
Justice: What song do you think represents your sound the most?
Aquil: “No Valentines” off of No Valentines. The reason why is because in one song, I show a strong chorus, flow is crazy, bars. I feel like that and “Mani” would be the two because the song doesn’t stay the same.
Justice: How do you balance the different sounds in your music?
Aquil: It’s actually not hard, because it’s still me. The music part is easy for me. It’s everything else. “Lois Lane” and “Eddie Guerrero” were recorded back to back. That’s just how it easy it is for me to switch it.
Justice: What keeps you going as an artist?
Aquil: My mama, every single day, wakes up and goes to work. That’s just, as a man, what keeps me going. As an artist, I love the art. I’m just blessed that what I’m trying to do resonates with people.
Justice: What do you think is holding back the DMV music scene?
Aquil: There is no unity. I [like] the fact that the DMV is now building some type of scene, it’s like a playground for us. I don’t fuck with how we stop each other though. We not even in the game against New York yet, or Cali, or Atlanta. We got all the tools to win, and aren’t winning. We got D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, but we act like we don’t want to come together. We don’t use that to our advantage. That’s what I want to change.
Justice: Where do you see yourself next February, two years after your first mixtape?
Aquil: Headlining. More big venues.
Justice: What’s your end goal as an artist?
Aquil: Redefine the meaning of “real.” I wanna change how people look at “real.” Being real has nothing to do with showing your guns. Being real has nothing to do with robbing people. Being real has nothing to do with being janky. Being “real” is being real to yourself.
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