Plug The Producer: DJ Quik
By Jacinta Howard
Quietly recognized as one of the most talented producers in Hip-Hop history, Compton bred rapper/producer DJ Quik’s prolific production run began in 1991 on his debut album, Quik Is The Name. Already respected around L.A. courtesy of his early underground mixtape, The Red Tape, Quik’s first album solidified his arrival as a gifted musician with a distinctive funk/ jazz-tinged sound, and witty, laidback rhymes.
Throughout the rest of the 90s, Quik continued to etch his signature sound into the musical landscape. Not only did he release his own acclaimed albums (Way 2 Fonky, Safe + Sound, Rhythm-al-ism), all of which further showcased his skill behind the boards and on the mic, he also produced and engineered for Death Row artists, including 2Pac on his iconic 1996 double album, All Eyez On Me. Not to mention the production work he did for respected debuts from rappers AMG (Bitch Betta Have My Money), 2nd II None (2nd II None), Hi-C (Skanless), and Suga Free (Street Gospel). Quik’s sound was definitively west coast, but completely his own. It was smooth and jazzy all at once, yet somehow managed to mold perfectly around the party-friendly but street-smart gangsterisms his camp churned out.
Although he arguably still doesn’t get proper credit for his musical contributions and influence, — a slight that he went public with just a few months ago — Quik has undoubtedly been a major inspiration for a host of artists and producers. His drum production, bass lines, and incorporation of jazz keys and flutes into his otherwise funk-laced work stand out in particular, and his sonic track record extends well into the 2000s. That’s his drum production on 50 Cent’s epic 2003 hit “In Da Club.” And Nelly’s 2002 smash, “Hot In Herre”? It samples his production from his now-deceased artist, Mausberg’s, “Get Nekkid”. Tyler The Creator says he studied Quik’s albums Balance & Options and Under Tha Influence in crafting his own expansive sound. And in 2015, Kendrick Lamar’s landmark sophomore album, To Pimp A Butterfly, also sampled “Get Nekkid” on the Sounwav/Terrace Martin-produced single “King Kunta.” In fact, if you dive into Martin’s catalog, Quik’s musical influence on the acclaimed saxophonist/producer is apparent.
Quik’s own discography continues throughout the 2000s and continues to showcase the longevity and influence of his sound, including Trauma (2005), The Book of David (2011), and The Midnight Life (2014), as well as impressive collaborative albums with rappers Kurupt and Problem, Blaqkout (2009) and Rosecrans (2017) respectively.
Obviously, it was virtually impossible to narrow it down given his massive output, but we’ve picked five of Quik’s most memorable productions.
“Tonite” - DJ Quik
Straight out the gate, Quik let everyone know he was on something a little different with his lead single from his first album. The funky bassline and stark drums became a fixture in his sound, which coupled with his relaxed-cool flow, was a winning formula for his incredible debut in 1991.
“Addictive” - Truth Hurts feat. Rakim
Quik showcased his versatility in 2002 when he produced the lead single for Aftermath singer, Truth Hurts. Sporting a guest verse from "The God MC" Rakim, it peaked at #9 on Billboard, and to this day is hands down one of the best R&B productions of that era, despite the trouble that later came in the form of a $500 million lawsuit due to the song’s prominent feature of a Hindu music sample.
“Let’s Get Down” - Tony, Toni, Toné
One of the legendary R&B group’s most popular dance tracks came courtesy of DJ Quik in 1996. Quik is also featured on the song, which incorporates his signature wavy bass production and snappy drums.
“Why You Bullshittin’” - Suga Free
A west coast classic from Suga Free’s debut, Quik’s lively production coupled great with Suga Free’s comical bars.
“Quik’s Groove III” - DJ Quik
“Quik’s Grooves” have become legendary and choosing the best one is something akin to picking your favorite kid. From the moment the smooth instrumental first appeared on his debut, perfectly breaking up what was already a stellar project, it was pretty clear Quik wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill talent. By the time he dropped his third album,Safe & Sound, scanning the record for the latest edition to his “Quik’s Groove” catalog was an anticipated event, and he didn’t disappoint with one of his dopest offerings.