Quik Is The Name, DJ Quik

Quik Is The Name, DJ Quik

Profile Records, 1991

1991. We don’t really know where DJ Quik comes from, he is not affiliated to a clan or to a known rap group as it used to be at the time, like NWA or Above The Law, from which he will be inspired. He formed his own crew with gangster friends from Compton like 2nd II None, Hi-C or AMG. Apart from that, DJ Quik seems a bit lonely in the middle of the Californian scene.

Quik grew up poor and in a gang environment and soon became a member of the Tree Top Piru, a Compton-based faction of the Bloods. After dropping out of high school at the age of 16 in 1986, David Blake found himself homeless, wandering the dangerous streets of Compton, his mother having lost her apartment. To get by, he did odd jobs as a DJ, which often ended in altercations with other street gangs. On the side, he recorded mixtapes that he sold in the streets of Compton and at his DJing shows, the most famous being The Red Tape released in 1987. Quik Is The Name was originally intended to be one of these mixtapes before it ended up in the hands of Profile Records.

After hearing his mixtape Red Tape, Cory Robbins of Profile Records contacted him to audition, resulting in a six-figure contract signed in 1990 and making him the first artist on the label to have such a lucrative deal. At the same time, he was contacted by Select Records, and an auction to sign him followed, which was won by Profile. Shortly after his signature on Profile, Eazy-E also approached him with an offer of a million dollars, but having already signed with Profile, Quik could not sign with Ruthless, which he strongly regretted at the time. On the face of it, David Blake already seemed very promising.

To record and mix the album, Profile granted a budget of 30 000 dollars, Quik already had a big part of the album ready, he used the minimum of the budget to record the album in studio and keep the rest of the cash, as he said in an interview. Quik does most of the album himself. He writes the lyrics, raps, produces and does some of the mixing. He surrounds himself with Profile’s engineers for the rest of the mixing and mastering. Even if some of the production comes from samples and keyboards, the bass and guitars will be recorded in studio from organic instruments by a musician, Stan Jones. Richie Rich will also accompany him as engineer and synthesizer.

Interview de DJ Quik

If you do the math: a $1000 a-day studio…if we get Quik is the Name done in less than a month, that’s more money in my pocket. So we got it done in 17 days. We dumped everything out of the SP-1200, brought the turntables into the studio, scratched all the hooks, did all the overdubs and brought in a bass guitar player to fatten up the sound because we would lose a lot of the bass from sampling. We recorded some of the album at Westlake Recording Studios in Santa Monica, which is where Michael Jackson did Thriller. It was a trip being in there mixing “Tonite” on those big boards knowing that Michael was coming in and out of there

Since his early days selling mixtapes on the street, David Blake has come a long way and now he’s in the bubble. “DJ Quik is in the motherfuckin’ house!” is how Quik starts his classic. And yes! DJ Quik is in the house, ready to add a new name to Compton, ready to show the world his music.

Even though Compton is already well represented on the rap map, having brought out gangsta rap, like Compton Most Wanted and NWA, DJ Quik stands out from his peers with funkier beats. And on his funky beats, he will adopt the gangsta style, after all he is still a member of the Tree Top Piru Bloods, and considering his past, it would have been hard to expect anything else.

Quik draws his inspiration mainly from Funk and Soul, and in particular from Roger Troutman who will teach him how to use the talkbox, a tool which allows to modify the frequency of the sound of an instrument to change its rendering and to add vocal sounds to instruments. The talkbox will become one of his trademarks throughout his career, as well as his Funk imprint. The sung passages will also be one of the innovations of this album, the singing being seen as a lack of authenticity in rap. But Quik doesn’t have to prove his street-credibility.

We can see the first sketches of G-Funk, which will be popularized by Dr. Dre, powerful bass with synth melodies and guitar riffs inspired by P-Funk and Soul of the 70s and 80s with artists like Isaac Hayes or James Brown. Finally, he will be one of the precursors of this formula so known in the early 90s. Talented and creative producer, he shows his talents and his know-how with his Quik’s Groove or the end of Tonite which offers a magnificent synth riff full of melody. He also tries Reggae on Bombudd which is very successful and perfect for the theme of weed that he approaches with the rather comical gimmick “Bombudd”.

His smooth and soft voice fits perfectly with the melodious beats of the album. The Compton rapper manages to bring harmony between his funky productions and his calm flow. He brings a contrast to his soft melodies by talking about subjects of his daily life as a gangster with lightness, such as drugs, gangs or violence, especially on the single Born and Raised In Compton, with this magnificent scratch covering NWA, or on Loked Out Hood. Also provocative on Sweet Black Pussy and its hardcore clip, which was censored, telling his adventures with women in a very visual and vulgar way.

One of the notable weaknesses of the album remain the lyrics, Quik is an outstanding producer and a multi-hat artist, but the lyrics are not his strong point. The lyrics are far from being bad, but it lacks this particular research with metaphors or complex rhymes that we can find in other rappers. The quality of the productions makes it easy to forget this weakness, if we can even dare to qualify it as such. And after all, that’s not why we listen to DJ Quik, we should rather take him for his musicality which reminds us of the Funk/Soul sounds of the two previous decades.

At only 20 years old, Quiksta released this bomb to bring freshness and novelty to Gangsta Rap with funkier beats, thus distinguishing himself from his more aggressive predecessors from Compton. Released almost two years before Dr Dre’s The Chronic, DJ Quik opened the premises of G-Funk, at the same time as his colleagues of Pomona, Above The Law. Would he be the inventor of G-Funk? The question remains. Anyway, he brings an innovative side to the West Coast rap for which he is still one of the greatest today.

By Grégoire Zasa

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