Quddus became a household name as a VJ for MTV’s Total Request Live from 2001 to 2006. But now he’s back in the spotlight, as host of ABC’s singing competition Duets.
The show takes superstars John Legend, Robin Thicke, Kelly Clarkson, and Jennifer Nettles from the judge’s panel and onto the stage to sing duets with contestants. After eight weeks of competition, tonight America will finally choose a winner during the live finale of Duets on ABC at 8/7C .
During an interview with theGrio, Quddus discussed why he left MTV, how he got the opportunity to host Duets, and revealed the conversation he had with Frank Ocean the day after he came out.
What have you been doing the last few years? You have sort of been off the radar since your days at MTV.
I started to go behind the scenes and work in artist development for a couple of years and went to Myspace records when Myspace was still relevant and cool. I helped them with their record label that they had launched and they were interested in getting a little bit more savvy in the urban department so they got me involved. It was great experience for me because really the true line of my whole career has been as a music lover first.
I was a DJ before VJ, so going into artist development actually made a lot of sense for me because I always wanted to support great music, so obviously when MTV went away from supporting great music as much as they used to it made sense for me to peace out on MTV and do more of that.
I guest starred on a couple of TV shows like Girlfriends on CW. Nothing really that notable on-camera but definitely great experiences behind the scenes that really helped confirm me so much as a person and as a creator.
You mentioned that MTV stopped covering great music. Why do you think that they kind of transitioned away from that?
People come up to me all the time on the streets saying “hey man what happened to music on MTV?” And I’m like “well not as many people were watching it.” Bottom line the ratings weren’t as good as they used to be and obviously as a business that needs to function and pay the overhead. MTV realized that for them to stay as relevant as they could be, the bottom line was to do reality shows like Jersey Shore and things of that nature because that’s where the eyeballs were going. It’s a shame, because I as a true music lover I used to go to MTV for great music.
How did you get involved in hosting Duets?
I got a call from ABC, they told me that they wanted me to host the show and came to me with a great offer that I couldn’t pass up. I didn’t have to audition it just happened. I was really into the idea of Duets because it wasn’t a show about criticizing the talent but rather mentoring them in a positive way. So many of the other shows that are out, the judges make harsh remarks, and I hate that. I was watching an old audition from American Idol, and Simon Cowell was just so wack with the way he was critiquing the contestant. There is no reason to talk down to a contestant like that. That’s what makes Duets such a different show.
Of the three judges on Duets, who are you the biggest fan of? Who gets played the most in your iPod?
I am a big fan of all the judges, but I have the most songs of Robin Thicke on my iPod. I was a huge fan of his before the show. His music is so real, and he has an ability to deliver lyrics and really make original fresh music. Also he is married to Paula Patton, and any dude that get [sic] with Paula Patton gets points from me.