West Coast rap pioneer DJ Quik returns to his roots on first new album in six years
Chico, CA 95928
Even for those who achieve great success in the music business, sustaining stardom is not guaranteed.
Compton rapper DJ Quik (aka David Blake) is one of the godfathers of West Coast gangsta rap. His 1990 album Quik Is the Name went platinum, and throughout the ’90s he released another three albums—all of which went gold—and gained a reputation as a producer of fellow Compton crew 2nd II None as well as songs by 2Pac, Snoop Dogg and even Shaquille O’Neal. But by the end of the decade, two of his friends—manager Darryl Reed and rapper Mausberg—were murdered, and soon after Quik found himself charged with assaulting his sister (who he says was extorting money from him), for which he served five months in prison. Add to that the usual artist beefs, record-company problems and a lawsuit over an uncleared sample, and the momentum of Quik’s career began to slow.
Now, six years after the release of his last solo record, Trauma, Quik is set to make a comeback with The Book of David. With appearances by the likes of Ice Cube and Kurupt, the new album is a throwback to his roots, recorded to analog tape and utilizing old-school drum machines and vintage samples.
Quik will be in Chico at the Senator Theatre Monday, April 25. The CN&R talked with him by phone as he prepped for tour.
CN&R: The Book of David comes out this week. Are you excited?
DJ Quik: Yeah. I’m really excited about it. It’s a record that will reinvigorate all fans. It’s a really well-thought-out, complete album.
Is the first single, “Luv of My Life,” a good preview for the rest of the album?
“Luv of My Life” is not indicative of everything on the album. “Luv of My Life” is just a cool little “up” song. My album is a little dark. And what I mean by that is it’s like dark comedy. You know, it’s serious. I’m addressing some issues that had me out of the limelight—going to jail for nothing. I had a catharsis when it came to that shit. The record has some heavy moments. That’s what hip-hop is: to be able to express your artistic points of view and hope people can relate.
You’ve been through a lot in recent years. Are things more peaceful in your life today?
Yeah, everything’s good. [Things] were so tumultuous that I wasn’t even surprised by anything anymore. Who needs their homeboys getting shot up and killed? After a while it didn’t even hurt anymore, and I knew something was going on. So, I upped my spirituality and kept pushing. I waited out all the negative people, and I got away from them.
Someone told me that when you go through shit, just throw yourself into your work. I took a step back. I got some old gear—classic shit, classic microphones—and went back to what made me DJ Quik in the first place. Everything is good [now]. Everybody’s happy. My mom’s happy. I spend more time talking with my mom and kickin’ it with my mom and my uncle than ever before. I realized that you need that fiber—that adult fiber in your life. I need them. They keep me balanced. They keep me looking forward.
You recorded The Book of David analog, right?
Yeah. There’s nothing that sounds like tape. It’s what made our favorite records hot. So, what else would I do? I had to go back to that shit.
How long is your tour?
The first leg is 17 dates straight with no breaks. So, we’re playing basketball like a motherfucker to get them legs to be able to rock on 10 every night.
It must be exciting to have new material to show off.
Yeah! Especially in a business that has changed so dramatically from the time we started. In 20 years, it’s a whole new business. I think it’ll be cool to go out and rock these new songs with the energy and the love of the music that I did 20 years ago. I look forward to it. I’m loving what’s about to happen.
What are your thoughts on how the rap game has changed since you started?
It’s more targeted now. It’s more pinpointed. It’s like too much of nothing. I don’t know if that makes sense. For example, it’s hard for me to recall a song that came out two years ago. It’s more of a corporate-driven business than an artist-driven business. It’s more suit-and-tie. I never would have thought that an inner-city urban sound would become suit-and-tie.