Jankie” – 8Ball & MJG (2000)
“I knew Tony Draper who ran Suave House Records [the label home of 8Ball & MJG]. I met Tony a couple of times while I was at Death Row. He was a music mogul and he actually came to my little apartment on the West side. I was like, ‘Wow.’ I just let him know how much I dug 8Ball & MJG. They were like the perfect duo in southern rap. Right after the Geto Boys, it was them. Those niggas was hard. And they were funky. Draper let me get in the studio with them and we did ‘Jankie.’ We also did another song called ‘Buck Bounce,’ which I thought was a throwaway. I was just doing beats at that point, but they liked it. We recorded it at the Enterprise studio when it was poppin’ out in North Hollywood. We had a good time out there.”
“Addictive” → Truth Hurts feat. Rakim (2002)
“I was hanging out with MC Lyte when I realized that I needed to take my music abroad. I needed to get out of this regional shit. And ‘Addictive’ was kind of a lucky thing. I’m brushing my teeth at home and I hear this music coming from this free channel called Z TV. There was this crazy music coming from the background and I didn’t even realize I was dancing to it [laughs]. I dropped the toothbrush, went to the TV and popped in a videotape to record the song. I got the audio from the tape, put it in my drum machine and went to the recording studio. I created the ‘Addictive’ track and I let MC Lyte rap on it. I thought it was going to be a Lyte record, but she didn’t kill it like I wanted her to.
So here comes Truth Hurts, and I had already been working with her, Nate Dogg, Dr. Dre and Suga Free. So I told Truth Hurts, ‘Hey, I since it’s your birthday, I think I have a birthday gift for you.’ She came over and got the CD and drove right off. A day later, I hear from Dre who tells me to come to the studio. I went up there to drop the song down to analog tape and had my boy play bass on it. I took it back to Dr. Dre and he called Focus to write some lyrics to it and Truth Hurts went in and did her vocal parts. When Dre had me come in and listen to the finished track, I was blown away. Next thing I know it was on the BEAT radio station in L.A. And when I heard it on the BEAT I lost my motherfucking mind [laughs]!
And Rakim being on that song was just crazy. If I put Eric B. & Rakim’s ‘Paid In Full’ cassette in a radio right now, I would still be the coolest guy on the block. To hear that Dre had that kind of access to Rakim and to put him on a song I produced?!!! He sounded like the Rakim we all knew and loved. It was like we won some type of hip-hop championship or something [laughs]. We should have gotten a hip-hop award for just that pairing of talent: Dr. Dre, Rakim, DJ Quik, Truth Hurts and Focus. It was amazing.”
Under Tha Influence (2002)
“At this point, L.A. Reid was coming into the Arista Record situation, and it was time for me to go. Amicably we supposedly split. But then I saw a press release that said Arista dropped DJ Quik. So I guess that’s what amicably means [laughs]. I still had a lot of money on that contract, but I was ready to become a label owner. I scouted around for some independent labels to try to align myself with, and the only real game in town was Bungalo Records, which was started by Paul Ring. So I’m thinking being independent I was going to sell about 200,000 records and get that independent money so I could build a studio compound. I was looking at my peers like DeVante Swing who had acres and acres of fucking land and studio space with all his toys in there. I was trying to do that, but I didn’t know Paul Ring and them had a shady way of doing business.
I ended up getting fucked on that Bungalo deal. It blew up in my face. That was pretty much a big mistake in my career. Even my lawyer advised me not to do it. I put my foot in the quicksand. But ultimately I got it together and went to Warner Bros. to do some A&R work. They had a great staff and great people. I was living in New York at this point. I started making music with Wyclef Jean and them. I was just trying to align myself with people that I am like. I was ready to take it to the next level at Warner Bros., but in comes Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles, so I was out. That whole thing just proved to me that I needed to have my own label.”
“Justify My Thug” → Jay-Z (2003)
“Justify My Thug” started off as a funk sample. ‘Justify My Thug’ was very dark. It was almost like one of the theme songs that could have made it onto the Scarface soundtrack. It sounds like some Giorgio Moroder shit. That music was weird, so I was taking up that pattern. I wanted to do something quirky and strange. And I was hoping that Jay-Z dug it. The song still had a rhythm to it and Jay still laid into it rhyme wise. But it was definitely one of my more bizarre tracks. But it really worked because Jay-Z could rap over farts [laughs]. Now would a song like ‘Justify My Thug’ work today? No. It would be too risky. I don’t think I would take that chance.”
Trauma → DJ Quik (2005)
“On Trauma I started aligning myself with the southern artists like T.I. and Ludacris. The south was running the business. It was all about them. So to stay alive and be relevant you had to align yourself with the power players. We did those songs off of respect. Trauma was an independent album. I thought that I vented nicely on the intro, and those records still stand up for me. The production, however, wasn’t really musical. I was going for more barebones, more drum oriented songs. But there are some standouts. I still love ‘Fandango’ (featuring B-Real). That track is bananas. And there’s ‘Black Mercedes’ with Nate Dogg actually just singing lead, killing it, and not just doing a hook. Nate did that shit in one take! He fucked me up, man. I miss Nate Dogg.”
BlaQKout → DJ Quik & Kurupt (2009)
“BlaQKout only happened because Snoop Dogg and I was done with Ego Trippin’. I asked Snoop, ‘Kurupt is on tour with you all year around…is it cool if I borrow him from you for a couple of weeks to do a record?’ Snoop gave me his blessings and me and Kurupt did a record as men. Not as the two Death Row inmates [laughs].
At this time, I was hanging out with Jay-Z’s engineer Guru. And we would talk about how we should be a production team because we knew how to see music all the way in its totality. I see the end game of most of my tracks. For example, the ‘9x’s Outta 10’ record on BlaQKout was purposely some shit that no one had ever done. I was using plug-ins from other hosts and mixing them with other hosts in my Pro-Tools. So I would have native instruments playing Sony Pro-6 samples and dicing them up. It became this crazy amalgamation of new technology.
BlaQKout was just fun. It was not pretentious. It was me and Kurupt being mature. We were both gangsta rappers. But why just do a gangsta rap record? Especially when people are shunning it. Gangsta rap is not even selling. You even got the big dogs saying that gangsta rap is dead. These are the people that made a living off of it. So where do you go? You try something different. You even go pop or alternative. Kurupt was open to it. To hear some of those weird quirky tracks it brought him to a place where he was really comfortable. It was crazy to see Kurupt that comfortable. I don’t know if I was ready for critics when they started to call BlaQKout a classic just from being the black sheep of the hip-hop world. But I knew in my heart that it was a unique record. I knew it was a record that I could put on years later and still like it.”
The Book of David → DJ Quik (2011)
“When I got into trouble and went to jail (On June 21, 2006, DJ Quik was convicted of the physical assault of his sister and sentenced to five months in prison. The incident happened in 2003 after police reported that Quik’s sister was extorting him.) I started to write my book. I wanted to call it The Book of David. I thought I was at the end of my life at that point. I was going to end up dead or in jail and I ended up in jail, so maybe God was trying to say something to me. Maybe I needed to start listening and stop being drunk and stop being hard headed. That’s when I decided to pen my book. But when I started remembering shit that happened to me when I was five-years-old, I dropped the pencil because it was too painful to look back at.
I wanted to tell the back-story of every record I ever made and what motivated me from heartbreak to being homeless. I went through all that shit. But I realized it would be easier for me to just put it to song. I don’t even have to write songs anymore. I just start rapping. What I was doing was having a catharsis. I was letting all the bullshit go. There’s no weird music on The Book of David. This shit is all barebones and factual. It’s not going to go over somebody’s head. I have Ice Cube on it…Dweli, Bun B…I got all these top names on it.
We had the album ready to go last year, but it got held up for the samples. Now usually, I would be cavalier about samples in the past and let them come after me. But I was proactive this time. I sampled Angela Bofill and the Grease Lightening soundtrack. I knew it was going to be expensive but I wanted to get them cleared. Now the clearance is coming through and the record is mixed. Now usually I would just hand the album in and say, ‘I’m done with it.’ But this time, I listened to it with objective ears. I listened to it as both DJ Quik and David Blake. I hope that’s not bi-polar [laughs].
The song ‘Hydromatic’ is pretty dope. It’s a club record and the kids really bug out to it. My headspace is different. I’m in a much more calm place. We are really showing off with this record. My other favorite records are ‘Real Women’ with Jon B, ‘Ghetto Rendezvous’ and ‘Luv of My Life.’ I have a record on the new album with the late Gary Shider from Parliament. Him and Bernie Worrell, the P-Funk All-stars, came to one of my recording sessions and turned my life upside down with the funk.
Lo and behold I found an artist in Detroit while I was DJing out there. Somebody slipped me his work and I played it right there on the spot. He grabbed the mic and started rapping. His name is Gift Reynolds. He looks like Drake, but sounds like me. I want people to know that my life and my music were plagued with mistakes. But sometimes mistakes are beautiful. Sometimes they are life changing. I’m not perfect. I’ve fucked up a lot. I got scars that will take an autopsy to remove. But I grew. I’m trying to be the man that I am and just grow. I want to be remembered as one of the greats; to be up there where the Quincy Joneses are. I’m always working towards that.”