'American Idol' Qaasim Middleton interview: It's like a popularity contest, you may not be true to yourself
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/15/2015
American Idol eliminated Qaasim Middleton and determined its Top 7 artists during the fifth live show of its fourteenth season last week on Fox.
Qaasim, an 18-year-old student from Brooklyn, NY, was in the bottom two with Rayvon Owen, a 23-year-old singer and vocal coach from Richmond, VA, based on the nationwide vote following the prior week's performance show.
Qaasim and Rayvon were therefore each asked to sing a Billboard Top 100 hit after Florida Georgia Line and Jason Derulo served as their mentors. Qaasim performed "Hey Ya!" by Outkast, while Rayvon sang "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele. After both singers took the stage, America tweeted for the "Idol Fan Save" in real time, and the majority of viewers voted to save Rayvon.
During a recent conference call with reporters, Qaasim talked about his American Idol experience. Below is the concluding portion. Click here to read the first half.
After last week's remarks from the judges, and especially Harry Connick Jr.'s, were you expecting to be in the bottom two? And what did you think of Jennifer Lopez's comments last night? Because you dropped down on one knee after she said you have a great voice.
Qaasim Middleton: Well, [it was] because I was getting a lot of flack for the fact that people think I'm not that great of a singer but I'm a great dancer. And my thing is, I wouldn't be -- if I wasn't a good enough singer, I wouldn't be on the show, you know what I'm saying?
So, I really appreciated her vouching for me and letting the public know that I'm actually a great singer. Those are her words, not mine. But I do have some chops, and I really want to showcase those on some original stuff that I got coming out for you all soon.
And I just have so many different other colors that you probably wouldn't have gotten a chance to see on American Idol, but on Qaasim Middleton's story, I've got so much to give you all, man. I was really excited.
How many of your Naked Brother fans did you meet in the experience? Did a lot of people that were watching you know that you were from the show? Did you get any kids coming up to you outside the show that recognized you from that?
Qaasim Middleton: Yo, the first time I ever got a sign, like people told me that they recognized me from The Naked Brothers Band off of, like, my Instagram and my Twitter. And I was like, "Oh, thanks guys, I really appreciate you guys for recognizing me."
And I know I talked about it, like, on the show a few times, but those times never really got aired, because I don't know if it was like a clearance thing or something, but at the same time, it' s cool. The first time I ever got a sign was yesterday.
Somebody came up and was like, "I've been a fan of yours since TNBB," and I was like, "Ah, wow, thank you, I really appreciate that." So, it's nothing but God, man. Everything happens for a reason, you know? I know what's up. I know what's up and I know that you all know what's up.
The game is about to be completely changed. We're about to really wreck the whole theme. I got so much. The family got so much. The contestants have so much to offer and we just -- I consider this a new breed of talent to come out and just do damage.
This whole thing with the news of the tour and the Top 5 or whatever, I'm assuming we're going to be seeing you opening in New York, right? Is that going to happen?
Qaasim Middleton: I don't necessarily know too much about the tour other than the fact it's supposed to be only the Top 5 making it through, because usually it was Top 10. But I know that I'm going to be doing some big stuff on my own as well, so whatever happens, you know, I'm down for some big things.
What are your originals going to be like?
Qaasim Middleton: Well, it's very similar to the stuff that you all heard me doing onstage, plus some really mellow stuff -- so everything that you all heard me do, plus some more hip-hop in it and stuff. But it's funk, rock, hip-hop, soul, and alternative. That's my genre and I'm sticking to it.
How do you see your life panning out in the next couple of weeks without your Idol friends beside you on the journey? And what were those few minutes like after the announcement of your elimination was made?
Qaasim Middleton: I was just like, "Oh, shoot, it's over." I mean, my time on this show is over, but I was like, "Yo, I'm really excited, because now I get to start working on my own stuff now," you know what I'm saying? Because the show is almost like a popularity contest. You've got to do something to win over the crowd in your own best way and your best light.
You've still got to do a killer job onstage, but it's like, you're accommodating the people who you want to vote for you, and sometimes that means that you may not necessarily be completely true to you. Sometimes you can. It depends on whatever song choice you have and whatever the theme is. It's a lot of factors into it.
But I'm glad I get to rest and work on my craft and just really start boosting my career up, because I plan on being one of the big stadium artists that you guys know today, like Prince and Michael Jackson, JAmes Brown. Just, I got so much Bruno Mars -- shoot man, shoot, let's go! I can't wait. Let's go.
What's your favorite Idol memory from the last couple of months? I know there's lots of stuff that has probably happened behind the scenes.
Qaasim Middleton: Yes. Me and [Daniel Seavey] would play video games all the time on our down times when we weren't really rehearsing or having to worry about too much. And those memories of me, Daniel, Michael Simeon, Adam Ezegelian -- who trained me in the video game -- Riley Bria, Rayvon Owen and Quentin Alexander, everybody, like, Adanna Duru, we would all play video games.
We played these games and just kind of, like, allowed ourselves to feel, like, at home and feel centered and feel like we're not -- it's like an escape away from all the drama and the stress that the show can possibly give to us sometimes.
I was just wondering, since your faith seems to be such an integral part of you and so important to you, do you have a Christian album or anything of that nature in the works, like worship music?
Qaasim Middleton: Oh, well, okay, the thing is, I'm very spiritual and I accidentally wrote a Gospel song. It wasn't supposed to be one, but I accidentally wrote one. I was writing it -- not to say that I wasn't trying to, like -- I was just writing it to write it and it came out to be a Gospel song.
But the theme of it, the way it comes off -- Gospel is speaking the praises and the Word of God, so it doesn't necessarily have to be in the stylistic format that you would hear from the more popular Gospel artists.
I am an artist who would normally sing secular music, but I have a spiritual intake toward the stuff that I talk about -- or sacred, rather -- a sacred intake to what I'm talking about. So, you will hear some stuff that talks about the Creator and giving the praises to Him, so yes, definitely, just like some projects or a song or two. But all the stuff that I come out with is going to be a reflection of how I feel to the Creator.
Tell us more about the video games you'd like to make. Would this be some kind of Naked Brothers video game or an app?
Qaasim Middleton: Ironically, there's already a Naked Brothers Band video game out that came out years ago, like during the second or third season of the show. The stuff that we're going to come out with is much -- is going to be like next generation gaming.
That's literally what it is because we've got next [generation] consoles and next gen thinkers with next gen pixilation, so everything has to be up and up and we have so much to give and so much to brainstorm about for this. So, I can't wait to really show y'all what we've got.
That's very forward thinking because apps and video games are where all the kids seem to wind up.
Qaasim Middleton: Yes, I mean, because I'm a gamer. My uncle, Carl, is a professional gamer. He gets paid to do this, so he's been training. He lives in Japan right now. And shoot, man, my grandmother, she's beaten over 200 and something video games, and I'm serious about that.
It's no joke. She kicks my behind at video games sometimes with her gamer score and everything that she gets within the games, so I'm like, alright. And she's like into games like "Uncharted." She was the first person, I believe, one of the first people in the tri-state area to beat "God of War 3."
The reason why I say this is because usually there's a GameFAQs up, right, a GameFAQs that teaches you how to finish a certain level if you get stuck. There was nothing up when she was beating the game, so she had to figure out everything on her own, and I was like, "Oh shoot, grandma, you know you a G, right?" She was like, "I know."
So, yes, man. I got into gaming really hard when I was younger. Like I fell in love with games when "Killer Instinct" was one of my favorite games when I was younger, and, like, I just really got into that, so it's a whole other scene, a whole other demographic. I learned a lot, actually, from video games.
As much as people read books and read magazines or read novels, like a whole bunch of different things -- not to say that I don't read -- but when I wouldn't read, I would play video games, and I usually played video games more.
And I would play video games that would give me insight on what to do with life and information about the past, so it's just a whole other market and I've learned so much from video games that I feel like I could dish out some of my own now.
Qaasim Middleton: Oh, she is a blessing on this earth, man. She's really raw and really true, and just very supportive of every single one of us. I really appreciated her, the fact that she appreciated what I was doing to her song, and just I can't wait.
Hopefully, I get a chance to do something with her in the future, you know what I'm saying, the near future. I want to do some big things, man. I got so much in the oven right now. It's cooked. I'm baking it right now.
Any final remarks?
Qaasim Middleton: And by the way, guys, thank you all so much. Follow me on my social medias, my Twitter and Instagram... and hit my Facebook up. Let everybody know that I'm doing silly stuff and great stuff and amazing stuff. I got you all, man. Send me, like, a silly snapshot out of like a face that I made or something. Just let me know. Give me like a meme. I love memes. They mad funny.
But I love you all. I appreciate you all for taking the time out to call me and talk to me about everything. You all are amazing human beings and I hope that I get a chance to talk to you all in the near future, okay.
Click here to read the first half of Qaasim Middleton's American Idol interview with reporters.