IQmuzic aspires to be in regular rotation on the radio, but he's not the typical person who tops the Billboard charts today. The Dallas resident and El Paso native, whose real name is Joe Garcia, wears a suit and tie when he performs, voraciously reads science fiction and creates infographics for imaginary companies as a hobby.
He once released a mixtape (2014’s Killing Season) that doubled as a murder mystery. His brain is a confetti gun of artistic concepts and marketing ploys trained on advancing his career. And it looks like his mania could be paying off sooner than later.
IQ released his second full-length album last month, filmed a few videos, and has a team of well-funded managers and producers supporting his work –– something the 28-year-old rapper thinks could propel him into the national spotlight.
“This time around, it’s been a big team effort,” he says. “I feel the difference now. Back when I was doing everything by myself, I really thought, ‘If I had that team behind me, I could take it to the next level.’”
Garcia’s demeanor betrays his edgy rap persona. He is relentlessly upbeat, talks quickly and gestures wildly. He speaks as passionately about merchandise and marketing as he does hip-hop. He used to co-own a clothing store called Space Heads in Valley View Mall.
He’s made IQmuzic lighters, condoms and urinal cakes. Every week, he releases a new song on his SoundCloud page, a bit he calls “New Music Monday.” Ever the promoter, IQ also plans on making history by breaking the world record for speed rapping.
“Right now, I’m practicing against the guy who holds the record,” he says. “I’m beating him by quite a bit.”
His new album, Flesh and Bone, released on Dallas-based label Sophomore Music and recorded at Valley of the Kings Recording Studio in Dallas, is filled with Garcia’s hard-earned wisdom and machine-gun-fast flow spewing metonymical bullets.
The album’s production, with tracks by Austin’s Run DMT and local luminary Sickwitit, ranges from aggressive and up-tempo to hypnotic and jazzy. Much of the recording’s edge draws from Garcia’s hardscrabble upbringing, particularly his time spent living homeless in Miami during his teenage years.
“I left my house at an early age to pursue my dreams,” he says. “I was 13, taking a bus by myself to Miami. I was so stubborn and so prideful that I didn’t want to go home and let my dad know that he was right.”
He was shot seven times and lay dead for a few minutes in a Miami-Dade County hospital. Once he recovered, he says, he left a “not-so-good crowd” in the Sunshine State after reading about and hearing some of the music coming out of Dallas in 2008. He moved to North Texas to pursue his rap dream with just a backpack and $50.
After Garcia spent years of hustling at gigs and open-mic nights and collaborating with other artists, a mutual friend introduced Garcia to Jessi Matthys, the co-owner of Sophomore Music, who agreed to manage him. Matthys says she was impressed by the flexibility of Garcia’s artistic vision.
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“I have a hard time finding artists who just want to make good music, regardless of the genre,” she says. “Most artists just want to stay in their own box and not take risks. He was all about it, though.”
For the last year or so, Matthys has bankrolled Garcia’s projects and supported him artistically. (She has writing credits on seven of the 10 tracks on Flesh and Bone.) Since he met Matthys, IQ’s star has been rising in the local hip-hop landscape, and lately he’s getting nibbles from major labels.
A new investor, financial broker Will Crozier, has pledged to ratchet up IQ’s cash flow and help with video production by providing props such as exotic sports cars and chic settings in luxury homes.
“I lack the raw creative genius of artists like IQ,” he said in an email. “I admire their unique skills and feel gratification by helping them in areas where I am strong," like business and development. "I hope to see Joe positioned in a way to have millions of people cranking their volume every time his songs pop up on their playlist the same way I do when I hear them.”