David Blake, or DJ Quik, as it says on the birthday cake I just bought for him, is a Compton, California-based producer and rapper who doesn't receive as much shine as he should. It's possible that he prefers being in the background, making his moves in silence and actually working while his higher-profile peers simply sit around and promise a new album every year for over a decade without ever putting out anything to show for it. More than likely, though, Quik's lack of presence on the scene is because of a fickle hip hop audience who is quick to forget someone who doesn't put out consistent hit songs.
David has been working with music ever since the tenth grade, when he used to deejay parties with a turntable he received as a gift for graduating junior high school. He adopted his DJ Quik moniker because he feels it describes just how fast he can put together a song; the 'c' was dropped due to the fact that he was not a member of the Crips and, as such, was legally prohibited from using that letter in his everyday vernacular, which made things interesting whenever he had to fill out applications with his mailing address. In 1990, he signed a deal with Profile Records that was worth a rumored six figures: his debut album, Quik Is The Name, reached stores about one year later.
Quik Is The Name, which is generally considered to be Quik's finest hour, was fully produced by David, with only a little bit of help from his friends in the vocal booth. It sold over one million units on the strength of its two hit singles, "Born and Raised In Compton" and "Tonite", which brings back fond memories of me sitting around at a friend's house trying to figure out what to do with our day while Quik Is The Name played in the background, with "Tonite" stuck on repeat for some reason. (That same friend was ecstatic when 2Pac's Me Against The World dropped, as "If I Die 2Nite" samples from Quik's joint. Maybe he just loves songs that reference all things nocturnal.) The fact that it's scheduled release was the summer of 1991 wasn't lost on Quik: he turned his debut album into the compact disc to spin at a lazy barbecue or a hyper house party, which helped him stand out when compared to other West Coast rap acts, especially a certain band of outsiders from Compton with attitude problems and a hatred of authority.
Okay, enough with this shit; I've been putting off David Blake's debut album for far too long.
1. SWEET BLACK PUSSY
And with his very first song title, DJ Quik has alienated the female audience of my blog. Not that I have the ability to criticize the man's personal preference, although I feel that sweet pussy comes in many colors and shades. (He was only nineteen when he recorded this song, as he mentions at one point, so I would assume that he's since broadened his horizons since 1991.) To be fair, the female gender may not care for this song anyway, as Quik spends over four minutes talking about fucking in a fashion that benefits him and nobody else. At least the beat is catchy. Also, the part midway through where Quik switches his verse (because he was reading from the wrong sheet) was kind of funny, so there's that.
This ode to partying sounds a lot more subdued than I remembered. Quik spends most of the track planning to have a good time, focusing on the little details such as actually getting dressed and pre-selecting what to drink. (I assume that made it much easier for the director to plot out the video clip for this track.) The beat is alright, especially when he lets it ride before his spits his third verse (which describes the aftermath), but the real draw of this song is Quik's everyman delivery, promoting the party in such a manner that you wish you were having a drink with him. Sure, it may be slower than what I recall, but it was still pretty good.
3. BORN AND RAISED IN COMPTON
Quik uses a sample from Issac Hayes's “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic”, among others, to his advantage, sliding all over the beat as though he were born and raised in Compton or something. He quickly (ha!) comes across as much more accessible and less prone to wanton acts of violence than those other guys from Compton, but manages not to lose any street cred in doing so. This wasn't bad at all, which helps explain why it was a minor hit.
4. DEEP (FEAT. 2ND II NONE & AMG)
This posse cut was filled with some of Quik's friends, who hide behind names that some of you two may recognize if you've been following West Coast hip hop since the late 1980s. The instrumental was pretty fucking catchy, even if it wouldn't have been my first choice for a massive collaboration piece. Our host spits his verse and graciously allows his guests to take center stage, with AMG impressing me the most. Man, I really have to listen to gangsta rap more often.
5. THE BOMBUDD
Or maybe not. Most rappers record an ode to marijuana at some point in their careers, but there aren't many of them who would deliberately craft a beat intended to remind listeners of Musical Youth's “Pass The Dutchie”, and almost none of them would elect to sing about the wacky weed (instead of just rapping about it, you see). I guess the shit Quik smokes makes him feel so mellow that the mere act of spitting a verse is too energetic to entertain. An interesting curiosity, but you won't ever need to listen to it a second time, even while high.
An interlude dedicated to fallen comrades. You probably knew that going in, though.
7. QUIK IS THE NAME
Quik delivers his rhymes on this title track as if he's coked out of his mind, rushing through his lines just so he can get back to his lines. Which seems to counter the laid-back feel that most West Coast rap goes for (save for the gangsta stuff, I suppose), but those of you two who are accustomed to the rapid-fire cadence of Twista or Bone Thugs 'N Harmony will have no problem following our host on what he probably intended to be his anthem.
8. LOKED OUT HOOD
Everyone looks to Dr. Dre and Above the Law's Cold 187um (and to a lesser extent, Warren G.) as the godfathers of G-Funk, but with this track DJ Quik deserves to stand alongside them, setting his story to a track that switches moods as often as your bipolar mother. It also turns violent at the end (after Quik and his associates discuss what kind of guns to carry), which isn't surprising when you go back and read the song's title again.
9. 8 BALL
DJ Quik does his best Eazy-E impression on this ode to malt liquor (excluding St. Ides, as he refuses to drink that shit). Lots of underage drinking taking place on Quik Is The Name, but honestly, we've all done it. David won me over with his first verse, where he mentions that he gets “discouraged” if he doesn't have any Olde English: how many rappers would ever think of saying that shit? (And yes, I realize he probably only used that word in order to make the next bar rhyme, and “discouraged” probably doesn't mean what he was trying to actually say, but it was still a memorable line.)
10. QUIK'S GROOVE
A pleasant enough instrumental. Yeah, I couldn't come up with anything else to write.
11. TEAR IT OFF (FEAT. SPIN & AMG)
Quik's beat has much more energy than most anything on Quik Is The Name. The pace is unrelenting, and the only reprieve listeners get is when AMG takes to the mic for his guest appearance. It contains a nice musical breakdown, too, but otherwise this was a skippable excursion. It's just not essential to the DJ Quik canon. Moving on...
12. I GOT THAT FEELIN'
Quik gives listeners his “song for the ladies”, although all he does is explain how he's interested in just one thing. So this devolves into a sex rap in record time. I found the beat to be kind of annoying, but Quik is rather earnest in his love for vagina (please refer to the track “Sweet Black Pussy” for further discussion), so while I won't ever listen to this shit again, it isn't the worst song ever made or anything.
13. SKANLESS (FEAT. AMG, 2ND II NONE, & HI-C)
This combination final song-slash-outro is an exercise in how much profanity DJ Quik and company can stuff into three minutes worth of time. Needless to say, there isn't much here to check for. And with that, Quik Is The Name is over.
FINAL THOUGHTS: For a debut album, Quik Is The Name holds up much better than some other discs I've reviewed, although it certainly helps if you're in the correct state of mind when you press 'play'. DJ Quik has always been one of the most underrated producers from the West Coast (well, in the entire hip hop genre, to be honest), so I was expecting the music to sound good (which it mostly does), but I had forgotten how nimble he can be with his bars. Quik is no master lyricist: his verses mainly consist of describing recent events with a keen eye for detail. But the way he twists his words is fairly fucking effortless, and when combined with the actual music, Quik Is The Name turns into the feel-good album you'll want to listen to while on your way to your next barbecue (although you may not want to actually play it while at your destination, as it is a bit too boisterous to relax anybody). I like some of his latter output more, but I can see how this ended up being the most popular album in DJ Quik's career.
BUY OR BURN? You should pick this one up. You probably need some more West Coast rap in your life anyway: may as well start with some of the good stuff.
BEST TRACKS: “Born and Raised In Compton”; “Tonite”; “8 Ball”; “Loked Out Hood”; “Deep”