Quinelle Holder is the man who’s on the sidelines, writing up the formations and executing the proper plays to get to the championship and conquer. Gearing up to be one of the best in the public relations industry, that is exactly where he’s at, the championship game in Hip Hop as he collects W’s with every move.
From a high school hustler selling mixtapes and CDs to Sr. Director of Publicity to Pusha T’s Heir Wave Music Group, he is a strong believer in never forgetting where you came from. Within the first few minutes of speaking to him, Holder gave me the most authentic vibe as him and his daughter got settled before the interview even began. We ran down his entire history before his first official play in the Hip Hop game. As he started telling me about his internship with THE FADER, he mentioned his wife, Sabrina Vaz-Holder, who threw him an alley-oop when it came to connecting with Hip Hop Since 1987’s Brandon Wyche.
Wyche recognize Holder’s work regarding his previous lifestyle blog The Red Tag Society, where he was covering streetwear culture, and asked what it would take for him to join the 1987. This was the moment Quinelle started getting paid for his passion as he negotiated a salary with Wyche, resulting in 70 percent of his original asking price to be content manager. The opportunity of a lifetime introduced him to household names such as Karen Civil, Miss Info and Mikey Fresh. As his team of colleagues expanded, so did his credentials when he earned positions as Civil’s Editorial Assistant, Info’s Music Editor and was named “Hip Hop Taste Maker” by VIBE Magazine.
Once Holder married Sabrina, the power couple moved to Silver Spring, Maryland where he landed his first executive gig as Head of Marketing for Warner Music distributed indie label IMG. He prides himself on his marriage and highlighted why his focus was different from his peers. The two built an empire together as Holder founded what was formerly known as Medium PR Agency. He boasted about how even though they married young, they established a foundation with each other by keeping it a buck from the jump.
“My priority is myself over a relationship and she understood because she is also in the music industry… most single men in the industry can’t get past the fact that she’s attractive, not knowing that she’s a valuable asset to any table she sits at. Women that can execute and get the job done bring all the elements together that a man cannot. That is the power of a woman’s touch. “
That was the first of many pointers Coach Q shared from his playbook. Throughout the entire conversation, he spoke from the heart and showed how grateful he was for every chance he’s received and will continue to receive. When asked how he maintains his evolution alongside the music industry, he spoke from a place of humility and shared some words of wisdom.
“The way to stay in tune is to admit you don’t know everything and stand on it. That’s first and foremost. Learn from your peers, mentors and mentees. Your peers are the people you work with and can directly tell you and you would receive it. Mentors are the ones who have been around for years and can help you adapt because they’ve seen other things change. They’re the OGs. Mentees will show you how it works now, the youngins. When I first started looking at playlists, it was owned by college and high school kids. I would be paying them to place the record on their social media. That’s the transition to get a couple K streams from that playlist.”
As we touched upon the topic of social media, the question of it’s vitality emerged. Back in the ’90s, we had Limewire and Napster which eventually led us to SoundCloud. Now there are numerous platforms with heavy traffic, translating to multiple ways to grow your fanbase as an artist and get streams. Holder emphasized on the importance of being present on the popular platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, etc.
“It is extremely important. Social media is underused. Even in quarantine, it is underused. For example, you have comedians who only post to tell you about their show. Meanwhile, they’re missing out on the money that HaHa Davis would get or opportunities to do IG Live stand up.”
Quinelle is steadily making moves for himself. He’s nowhere near letting his foot up off the gas pedal. Audiomack named him their #HometownHeroes to the DMV playlist curator after chasing another win. He was already a verified tastemaker on the platform who has worked with (RIP) Juice Wrld and accumulated 3 million streams in the matter of 2 days.
“Almost every opportunity I had, I went and got it. I asked to be hometown creator. They saw I was already a verified tastemaker on the platform. You have to make sure you’re using the platform in order to be in position with the platform. It’s like going to Tidal and asking to be a curator when you don’t use Tidal.”
Holder continues to put “Numbers On The Boards” as he secured his position of Senior Publicist with Terrance “Pusha T” Thorton. After discovering the legendary rapper was launching Heir Wave Music Group, he reached out to Doug Wilder, who is Pusha’s analysis partner in apparel and told him he wanted to be involved. Both men knew exactly who Coach Q was.
“My resume already speaks for itself. He [Pusha T] already knows how I do and how I’ve worked with multiple artists including Desiigner, who he signed… His biggest thing is he only cares about people doing the job. Sometimes I forget that the owner of this indie label is a multi-millionaire, he is Pusha T. Once he trusts you, he will ask you about everything and he’s trying to open up his world to me. We have the same type of hustle, this is a guy that has my same mindset, as long as I use that we won’t bump heads.”
We then went onto discuss his experience thus far working with the label. He emphasized to not let everyone know your every move due to the energy that comes with it. He’s already been working with the team for a little while but never officially shouted it out.
“I’ve been there for three months. I’m very particular about announcements. I make sure I get three checks from them beforehand. Premature announcements can kill you. Two weeks later, you might not get along or the bread isn’t right. People care too much about the hype instead of the actual work.”
While we were on the topic of Heir Wave Music Group, I couldn’t help but wonder if there would be any female artists on the label. Women’s impact in Hip Hop has been skyrocketing with a spotlight on them that has never been shined on them before. He mentioned that there is no gender cap, the board is just looking for artists in general that can add to the brand.
As the conversation carried on, Holder drops gem after gem. He’s not here for the lazy people and in music industry, there’s no time for the lack of effort. He’s big on making your own opportunities happen and this new endeavor of his was no different.
“I actually work for my position and what I’ve got going on. I also asked for a position and an opportunity that I knew I would live up to. When you ask for something… I’m asking what I want to do, not as a public relations assistant but as an executive in his final form.”
Throughout hearing his journey overcoming multiple obstacles to an executive level is why TFP Studios dubbed him “the Phil Jackson of Publicists.” All of his accomplishments and achievements did not change that he originally entered the industry trying to help. His intentions have always been to make the artist successful. He chose the career of a publicist so he could work closer with the artists and really be there for them. His legacy not only revolves around how helpful he is in the PR department but how humble of a family man he is as well.
“A lot of times, the reason why I help people with projects is because I needed me back then. It hurt and it was horrible. I felt miserable like the world has turned it’s back on me. As I got older, I realize that I was sent to those places for a reason. You go through the worst stuff so we can look them in the eye and see we were there before. I’m genuinely here to help. No money controls me, people sell their souls and it didn’t even help. Karma doesn’t care who you are and it doesn’t come the way you give it all the time.”
Holder frowns upon men that chase their dreams and neglect priorities such as taking care of home and their wife and kids. He is big on providing for his loved ones and never putting them in a stressful predicament.
“The corniest thing I hear is when dudes say ‘I’m chasing my dreams’ with the decision to have a family. Your family shouldn’t be on the backburner. It’s the same thing with a career, I wouldn’t take the same risks as I’ve taken before because I have a family now… I remember those days where my gas tank would be on E, you ain’t eat all day, you have nothing but your cell phone… Taking a leap of faith and being irresponsible are two different things… They don’t tell the real story, they tell the movie version. You have to tell the truth so someone can actually learn, they have to know the truth and how you really came up. Look where you came from, don’t play yourself.”
Accompanying his legacy is the credibility of major victories he’s added onto his repertoire. We are honored to have had the pleasure of walking down memory lane with him. The Feature Presentation Studios recognizes and honors the “11 rings” that fills up Coach Q’s record:
- Sr. Publicist for SONY’s The Orchard (Urban Division)
- PR Consultant to Russell Simmons’ brainchild All Def Digital
- A3C’s Day To Day Blogger
- Field Activation Research And Marketing Representative at Cornerstone (Parent Company of The FADER)
- Content Manager for HipHopSince1987
- Editorial Assistant to Karen Civil
- Head of Marketing at Warner Music Group
- Music Editor for MissInfo
- Founder of ‘Medium Creative Agency’
- Audiomack’s #HometownHeroes Playlist Curator
- Senior Director of Publicity of Heir Wave Music Group