“Notorious” captured the life of Bad Boy Records' iconic star Biggie Smalls, but the crooners who brought love and romance to the label was Atlanta quartet, 112. After selling more than 16 million albums and 15 years of performing, the foursome are now spreading their wings as each explores a solo project. The group’s smooth singer Quinnes “Q” Parker discusses with ESSENCE.com the future of 112, the best memories of Bad Boy and how marriage has changed him.
ESSENCE.COM: Congrats on your solo album “Real Talk.” You and the guys have come a long way from singing for Diddy in the parking lot of club 112 in Atlanta.
QUNINNES "Q" PARKER: (Laughs.) Yeah, we sang “Lose Control” by Silk and a medley for Puffy in 1994. We took pride in the fact that each one of us could sing lead. It’s important for me to put authenticity back into the game with my new album because I think it lacks that. I take pride in being consistent over the years. It’s a microwave generation now with everything instant. When 112 came into the industry, there was no YouTube so we had to get on the street corner and sing acapella in hopes to meet somebody.
ESSENCE.COM: Well, somebody definitely heard you. What are some of your favorite memories of Bad Boy in the 90's and Biggie?
PARKER: We were the perfect example of how a family that stays together, succeeds together. Big was the flagship and MVP of Bad Boy and had it not been for him, the success of everyone else would not have been what it was. His presence on each of our songs made us official and he was the first person on the label to welcome 112. He even helped us out with money starting out. He was always telling Puff, “Leave these guys alone, man!” The Bad Boy Family tour was one of the best times because we had different artists who had their own career. 112, Faith, Total and we had just signed Carl Thomas. We’d all do a set, then the Lox, Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Cease and Puff would come out. Bad Boy was tough. (Laughs.)
ESSENCE.COM: Definitely. And you’ve been married a few years now. So when you’re out recording and performing, what do you do to make your wife feel special?
PARKER: What I have realized is that this industry can be really demanding and is very selfish at times. What you have to do is find time to make those that you care about feel just as special as 112 makes you feel. I’m like a fireman and when that 112 or Q. Parker bell goes off, sometimes graduations, weddings or funerals take the back seat. I can’t just say, “Guys, I’m not going,” because my decision affects the livelihood of three other guys. As I’ve gotten older, I know how to prioritize and realize that my family is just as important as 112 and the group isn’t always the priority.
ESSENCE.COM: Smart man. Now, is it more of a challenge to have three of the four members of 112 pushing different projects right now?
PARKER: I won’t say it’s tough because it was a decision that we made collectively. With 15-plus years and five albums, you grow up as a man and an artist and you want to spread out. Instead of us coming out with a sixth album, we broke up the monotony to build to the story. I don’t think anything like this has been done since New Edition, which added to their legacy and to the excitement for the next time you saw them as a group. We’re planning for a release this time next year—at least a single to let people know a group album is on the way.