Creator-brothers GQ and JQ get funky with Shakespeare
Funky hip-hop performance artists Q Brothers, GQ and JQ, came by their collective name easily: In their civilian identities, the Chicago natives are Greg and Jeff Qaiyum. The duo scored big in 2008 with Funk It Up About Nothin’, which put a hip-hop spin on Shakespeare’s Much Ado and traveled from Chicago Shakespeare Theater to Scotland. (The show returns to CST in January 2011, running through Feb. 13, before heading to Australia.) You can catch the guys sooner, both performing and manning a booth at Kidzapalooza and on YouTube (with honorary Q Bro Jackson Doran) in their more R-rated guise as the Retar Crew, rapping their recent cult hit “The Blackhawks Song (We Love the Hawks?).”
When did you begin performing?
JQ: When I got a Fisher-Price tape recorder for Christmas. We started making game shows and talk shows.
GQ: We’d play different guests.
JQ: Our older brother would be like, “I’m interviewing the guy who makes perfume. His name is Eau de Toilette. When I dunk his head into the toilet, he blows bubbles and everything smells good!” And I’d go [makes underwater gurgling sound].
When people ask you what you do, how do you describe yourselves?
JQ: It’s difficult to put into words. We’ve made movies in the past; we created our own TV show; we’re playwrights and composers. I sometimes say: jack-of-all-trades, ace of none.
What’s your gig at Kidzapalooza?
JQ: This will be our fifth Lollapalooza. Our booth is the one-stop hip-hop happy-hour workshop.
GQ: We teach kids how to rap, scratch and beatbox. We record it, and they go home with a CD of them and us. There’s also a station where they can decorate their own album cover. It’s cool.
Your older brother has two daughters. Do they have an impact on you’re creating for kids?
JQ: Well, yeah, we read them a lot of books. But also, I think G is like a five-year-old.
GQ: It’s true, I am.
JQ: His imagination has no bounds to it. Sometimes that’s frustrating to work with, but we have a balance.
GQ: I can recognize when he’s right.
JQ: With the kids’ stuff, it allows me to say, “Yes, yes, yes” all the time. The kids are willing to go there. They’ll say, “Yes, he turns into a bird and flies away! That’s awesome!” So really more than reading stories to our nieces, it comes from G’s extremely kid-like imagination.
Funk It Up About Nothin' plays at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (800 E Grand Ave on Navy Pier, 312-595-5600) through February 13.