“I want to see the Bronx,” exclaimed DJ Quik as we lounged in the “luxurious splendor” of the conference room at Profile Records’ Manhattan office. A serious student of rap, Quik would rather see the birthplace of hip-hop, than remain cooped up in an office answering questions on this lovely spring day, but it couldn’t be helped; such is the heavy price of success. Hailing from Compton, California—a city nearly equal to the Bronx in terms of rap success and innovation—Quik is not afraid to give credit where it is due. Although he sports Gheri curls and wears the typical black uniform of the “C.P.T.,” DJ Quik is not your typical “gangsta” MC. With his platinum bound debut, “Quik Is The Name,” selling over 25,000 units a day, Quik is putting Compton on the map all over again. To use his own words, “DJ Quik is definitely a force to be reckoned with.”
[The Source:] Your success has been rather sudden, did you expect all of this?
[DJ Quik:] Naw man, I mean this is some shit! I didn’t think it would go as far as posters. I just thought it would be the record album, some posters and maybe people would like it. I did not think I would sell 25,000 records a day.
How long have you been involved in rap?
Believe it or not, I’m kind of new at it, but I’m no newjack. I’ve been a DJ since ’81 but I’ve only been actively rappin’ since ’89. But in that short time I’ve learned and acquired so much. In terms of rap some of my biggest influences have been most of the East Coast rappers, and groups like PE and Run-DMC have definitely looked out for me. They know what time it is, but a lot of other New Yorker’s don’t. They’ve been sleeping on me.
How does that make you feel?
It doesn’t matter. If my record was to stop sellin’ right now—I hope to God it don’t—at least I’ve proved something. I’m here for the betterment of rap. I write everything. I play everything, except bass and guitar. I produce everything. It’s all conceived, arranged, and produced by myself. I even do a little engineering. I’m definitely a one man band, all those others are perpin’.
What would you say is the factor that makes you able to handle all of those chores?
Because I’ve been doing it for so long. When all of my hard-headed friends was out fuckin’ up gangbangin’ and doin’ all that bullshit, I was in the house learning how to work a four track; learning how to ping-pong; learning about equipment that muhfukahs wouldn’t have the patience to pick up a manual to read about. I’m the type of person that when I buy a new piece of equipment, before I start messin’ with it I’ll read the whole manual and get to know the equipment before I even get it out of the box. That’s the kind of person I am, real thorough.
What makes you different from other Compton rappers?
Well, if you’ve heard most of the successful rap out of Compton, you’ll see that it’s gangsta influenced. I’m not totally negative, I’m on more of the let’s have fun, lets kick it type of vibe than my predecessors NWA, and Ice Cube—who I might add ain’t really from Compton, hype… wake up!—and I feel that I’m slightly a breed apart. I think that I’m genuinely talented and not just a sample loop artist. I have a lot of influences in my work from Hiroshima to Jim Morrison. There are a lot of jazz and R&B overtones in my music, even a little reggae. It’s all evolution, just like there were people before me there will be people after me. This is my contribution to music.
Are you thinking of a long term career in music?
Yes! I don’t want to rap forever. I don’t really want to go as far as the third or the fourth album. I see myself as playing the backfield in the future, producing other acts. It’s simple to write a rhyme with a catchy hook and have it formatted correctly, but I don’t really see myself doing this forever. I consider myself to be a producer first and a rapper second.
As a producer, who will you be working with in the future?
One of my homeboys that I co-produce is hittin’ hard right now—AMG on Select—and its called “Bitch Betta Have My Money.” And my boys Second To None will be comin’ out on Profile at the end of the summer, and if I must say, production wise it’s way different than what I’ve done before in the past. There’s not a lot of samples. I used real musical arrangements, strings, keyboard, piano. The musicality has a real twist to it. I want to get away from sampling and get into more live instruments and creating original music.
So you don’t want to become one of those guys where as soon as you put the record on you know who produced it, and everyone’s record sounds the same?
Nah, I’m not goin’ out like that. I’m always changing my sound. Like when I do my new songs now, I try to never use the same break beats. I damn near hardly ever use breakbeats anyway, not like “Substitution” and “Funky Drummer”… because it’s so played. Sorry. And out in LA it seems like you can’t be a producer without 25 volumes of Ultimate Breaks and Beats. Not to dis classic beats but there’s a lot of stuff out there that hasn’t been used yet. Old breakbeats have their place but I’m not gonna use them as much.
What about your lyrics?
My lyrics will show a real diversity on the next album. I mean I’m about more than just pussy, dick, 8-Ball, suck this, lick that, tramp, ho, etc. it’s no like that all of the time. I can get just as deep lyrically as anyone else right now, but I didn’t for this album because I knew that the simplicity would sell. Don’t get me wrong, I’m with the third eye, I’m with the Islamic thing, but people don’t want to be taught all day. There’s a time when people are like “yo lets just kick it… it’s friday night, lets party!” And I think that some of my music compliments that mood. But on my next album you will hear a lot of different stuff. I definitely have a whole lot of new influences and inspirations that I can’t wait to get back into the studio to act upon.
[Like other LA based rappers, DJ Quik has been singled out by the media as a threat to community standards. Controversy surrounding his lyrical content, attitude, and alledged links to gang culture have continuously dogged Quik’s young career. This all came to a head last March when a San Francisco concert featuring Quik was stopped because of a “riot” sparked by “gang activity”.]
Although you say you are not a gangsta, there has been a lot of controversy following you the past few months. Would you like to address that?
There are a lot of rumors in my hometown about me being a notorious Blood and gang bangin’, and I’m not going to let a bunch of gang bangers ruin what I’ve built up and accomplished, I’ve got Crips crossing out my face at the Wherehouse and puttin’ up Crip neighborhoods and shit. I grew up in a Blood neighborhood but I was never down with red rags, red shoes, never even had a pair of red shoestrings, none of that shit. But because that’s the neighborhood I’m from I get sweated for it.
I’ve even heard that people have supposedly found gang meanings in your cover artwork.
Yeah, TTP is the initials of a gang in Compton called the Tree Top Pyroues, and coincidentally my production company [Total Trak Productions] had the same logo, TTP. But people made those connections themselves, I had nothing to do with it. And the way I spell my name—Quik without the “c”—was taken by some to be anti-Crip and it ain’t even like that. They’re just tryin’ to clown.
How does something like this get started?
Well most of them knew that I was from Tree Top [Park], but I wasn’t a gangbanger. I mean all of the Bloods didn’t give Eazy-E that flack; they didn’t sweat him, they bought his shit and was like, “cool, so what he’s a Crip.” Then I come out and get sweated, and I’m nowhere near a gangbanger.
What about the situation at the San Francisco concert last March?
The police went to a hard-headed 16 year old kid to find out what really happened on the inside. He gave them a way out rendition of what happened and it wasn’t even true. He said that we got up on stage and made a reference to the Compton Crips—I’m not even halfway a Crip—threw up a “c” or said “cuz” or whatever and the stage got rushed by niggas yellin’ “Filmore” and “H.P.” and that was totally garbage. The truth of the matter is, and there are plenty of witnesses, is that we had very weak security and when I finally made my entrance, the whole muhfukin’ left side of the stage caved in with girls screamin’, kissin’ and grabbin’ all over me. I couldn’t even perform my show. Before I knew it, security grabbed me and I got rushed out of the building out the back to my limo, and was still being chased by women—not by niggas yellin’ “H.P.” and “Filmore,” not by police, not by no flyin’ chairs, but strictly women—and that’s the truth!
It’s almost as if the media would rather cover a negative event, and if there isn’t one they make it up…
Of course! It’s their job to hype all of the garbage. You get turnouts where there are much more people around than needed to start a riot and nothing happens, but they don’t print that. There is a plot to destroy real street, hardcore rap—the original stuff. Not the Hammers, because they love their Hammer and their commercial muhfukin’ Vanilla Ice; that’s their pets…their puppets. But they will try to crush anyone who goes against what they think is right.
How did that incident affect you?
The saddest part about it is that it wasn’t even true. I wish there was a way to sue them for that muhfukin’ lyin’. Now I’ve got a rep, and it will be hard to book shows. If this stuff continues there won’t be anymore live shows. They’re hurtin’ it for the people that we influence, the people that will look at what we’ve done, grab the baton, and take the music to the next level.