Photography: DeMayne Earvin
Quincy Taylor, known as “Big Heff,” has spent nearly 20 years quietly building a career that now reaches up to the royalty of rap music.
Born in Chicago and raised in Cleveland, Taylor still keeps a home here when he’s not traveling for his work as a music promoter and scout covering the Midwest for Def Jam Records. He’s also a radio show host, a cofounder of the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards, a mentor for high school students, and co-author of Making It in the Midwest: A How-To Guide to Be Successful in Music, published last year. He was recently part of the Sons of St. Clair documentary screening at the Cleveland International Film Festival with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. He’s also the recipient of several recent awards for his work, including accolades from Epic Records and the Ohio Entertainment Awards.
Taylor is soft-spoken, polite, and thoughtful in ways you don’t anticipate from someone who can rub shoulders with the likes of rap music moguls like Jay-Z and Paul Rosenberg, but that’s probably why even big shots like them like him. Big Heff regularly hosts music events in Cleveland—showcases, industry mixers, promotional events, speeches, lectures, and programs for at-risk youth interested in the music industry, including the Toys N Da Hood drive that gave away toys to hundreds of kids in two locations this holiday season.
Taylor was recently in town at Anatomy Nightclub + Ultralounge with his Streets Most Wanted Tour, a recurring traveling hip-hop showcase, with this lineup featuring Cleveland artist Uncle Paulie. Taylor sat down with PressureLife writer Gennifer Harding-Gosnell before the showcase to talk about the current state of hip-hop in The Land:
PressureLife: What do you think Cleveland’s rap music scene does well, and what needs improvement?
Quincy “Big Heff” Taylor: Cleveland rap artists are famous for adding melody and harmony into the music, from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to Kid Cudi and MGK. Now with some of the newer artists like 55bagz, Q Money, and Ray Jr.,that helps us develop bigger and broader fan bases across the country.
What needs improvement? I want to see more structure, that we’re able to support more of these artists with a wider variety of media platforms so we can keep that consistent fan base for these artists so they receive all the support and the attention they deserve.
PL: How do you find new artists?
QT: A lot of them are referred to me through people I trust with music. A lot of DJs will refer artists to me that they feel have the potential to go to the next level. Once I get a hold of them, I create a platform for exposure. I have a DJ crew called Nerve DJs. We have 1,500 DJs around the country that help build artists. I’m also in touch with a lot of websites and blogs. I like to create a story on an artist and build them up that way. The transformation to music streaming, torrent systems—they’re a good dose of activity that attract fans. I want to create a fanbase where they’re with us from the first single all the way through to the twentieth album, creating a path that our artists and our music can stay on for a long time.
PL: What is it about you personally—your character, your personality—that you feel has helped you become so successful?
QT: Just being honest. Honest with myself, first of all. I’m very humble, religious, and just putting work first so we can produce the results that make success. Not just having an idea, but working to roll that idea out. It’s always been a bit less sleep and more work, but a lot of what makes success is result-driven, goal-driven. I stay focused. I don’t get deterred or surround myself with negative energy. Publicists, management—it takes a team effort to make an artist successful and I’m always team-oriented.”