Photo via Forest Casey
There’s a lot left out of my DJ Quik profile. No Suga Free. No AMG. No Hi-C. NOTHING ON QUIK’S GROOVES. Too little on the music and only a cursory mention of anything between Quik is the Name and the Book of David. 2000 words isn’t enough to write David Blake’s 1-sheet, let alone a feature that neatly captures his sinistral genius. Still, I’m thankful for what I got. Ask any freelancer about snaring that many words in a contemporary print publication and you’ll understand. The original unexpurgated draft in my head runs 20,000 words with more complications and gratuitous violence.
I could have just written an essay on “Pitch in on a Party.” It’s all in there: the levatative guitar lines and 8-Ball funk, the melody that bottles the raw power of a pristine Southern California day and the subtle undercurrent of alienation. There were pretentious graphs excised about Quik and the LA light-dark dialectic. He’s throwing a party for all of his friends, but dealing with freeloaders and hiding the expensive champagne. That’s Quik at the core— the producer/genius making you dance and the alienated battle-scarred vet mocking and mourning the carnage.
The first time I met Quik, he unspooled his life in one seamless three hour narrative, complete with pitch-perfect Eazy E, Snoop Dogg, and Suge Knight impressions. The second time, we spent eight hours between Compton and his Woodland Hills hideout. There’s a video coming later today that should fill in a few of the gaps, but there was no time for anything but the facts. For whatever reason, I’ve tried to figure out why I’ve never written much about Quik in this space. I’ve loved his music since I was a kid, but only grew to appreciate in the years when he stopped making it. In LA, it was always something we took for granted. Like the Lakers being good or the sun shining or whatever insipid cliche comes to mind when you think of this town. My best guess is that we were selfish; we wanted to keep Quik as our secret.
Quik’s music always felt like customized anthems, complete with built in subwoofers and chrome 22’s. Dre sells headphones and Cherry Dr. Pepper. He’s a global brand who belongs to everyone and no one. But Quik belongs to LA. Outside of the hard-core heads, no one ever heard of the guy east of the Mississippi and above the Mason-Dixon. His music was always stoned and funky, too much swing for the concrete vortexes of a Northeastern metropolis. His voice dripped like a jheri curl, a brassy high-pitched chirp that projected both menace and mischief. He’s the comic, the gangsta, the ladies man, the stoner, the hood sage; he’s Quik. The story is here, a few of his great lesser-known tunes are below. The name, you already know.