I’ve never been to Compton let alone California. My only knowledge of the hoods in and around Los Angeles came from movies like Boyz N The Hood, Menace II Society, Friday, Training Day and South Central and of course RAP! N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop’s Doggystyle gave me a first class crash course on gang culture and their overall lifestyle. Can’t lie, as a kid, that gang culture used to scare me shitless especially after watching the the 1994 HBO documentary Gang War: Bangin’ In Little Rock.
It wasn’t until my freshman year of High School that I really became aware of DJ Quik. I was an East Coast Hip-Hop loving kid who’s only connection to the West Coast were the aforementioned artists and everyone’s favorite thug that needed a hug, the late and very great 2Pac. The East/West beef had no affect on my tastes in music. Good shit is good shit. I remember watching Quik’s video for “Hand In Hand” on the BOX music video channel (Channel 65 on Wade Cablevision) and really digging what I heard and saw (Shannyn Sossamon!!!). 1998’s Rhythm-al-ism was such a cool album to me. As a producer, Quik knew how to combine elements of funk, hip-hop, jazz and R&B and fuse them into something groovy.
My favorite album of Quik’s is 1996’s Safe + Sound. The progress of his musicality from his debut album, Quik Is The Name and the sophomore project, Way 2 Fonky is gradual but nonetheless very distinct. “Quik’s Groove 1” from Quik Is the Name has one of the best flips of Peter Brown’s “Without Love” that I’ve ever heard. Plus, he’s a big proponent of utilizing live instrumentation on his records which gives an extra spark.
It seems like the general consensus is that Dr. Dre is the God of West Coast production, but I may be one of the few that will argue that DJ Quik is just as great if not greater. In fact, for any Dre joint that’s mentioned as the best, I can quickly name three to four of Quik’s classics to shut down that debate REAL fast. He’s worked with 2Pac, Suga Free, Xzibit, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Truth Hurts, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Talib Kweli, Ludacris, Jay-Z, and a myriad of other artists. I’d love to pick his brain on production credits as well as stories from his career. My good friend MP had the opportunity to interview Quik for Mass Appeal Magazine a while ago and the gems from that conversation are priceless!!!
But yeah, salute to DJ Quik for creating some of the funkiest tracks ever made.