“Let’s Get Down” → Tony! Toni! Tone! feat. DJ Quik (1996)
“I heard Tony! Toni! Tone!’s Sons of Soul album and I was just smitten. I was like, ‘These guys are dumb!’ I just wanted to be able to work with them at some point. My dream was to work with Raphael Saadiq because he’s bananas. When I heard ‘Lay Your Head On My Pillow’ it inspired me to buy a Wurlitzer 200 electric piano. I played a lot of it on Safe + Sound. Raphael Saadiq sparked me to go bigger. So we finally met and started ‘Let’s Get Down’ at Westlake studios. I had a break beat, hooked it up, did the cool drums around it and let Ray (Raphael Saadiq) hear it. And Ray was like, ‘I don’t want know keyboards on it…I don’t want it to be a G-Funk record. This has to be more of a popular record.’
So, I threw the Moog keyboard out the studio. I put it all on a 2-inch reel tape and gave it to Raphael and he put some guitar and vocals on it and sent it back to me. That’s when I brought more percussion to the record. I was playing triangles, shakers and bells. It took me two days to mix ‘Let’s Get Down.’ And when I was done, I was so proud of it. I felt like I did Tony! Toni! Tone! a real solid. I put them in the club…it was a club ‘hood record.”
“Ride On” → Snoop Doggy Dogg & Kurupt (Caught Up Soundtrack, 1996)
“I heard the original mix of ‘Ride On’ because Snoop and Kurupt did it with someone else. They called me in and said, ‘Quik, do you think could listen to this record and see if you could do anything with this?’ It wasn’t like I didn’t like the original track. It just didn’t seem like a track that fit Snoop and Kurupt. It sounded like a something that a fan of Hank Shocklee (of the legendary production crew the Bomb Squad) and them tried to produce but didn’t have the talent. So I called my boy Bacon over to the house. He started playing these crazy, eerie guitar parts. I programmed the MPC, we took a break and started drinking and smoking that good weed. Then we went back into the studio and re-built the song all the way up. Now listening back to that track, it’s really advanced. It’s a strange song, especially with the girl singing. She sings minor and then her vocals are augmented. It’s dark and beautiful at the same time. And Snoop and Kurupt rapped their asses off.”
Rhythm-al-ism → DJ Quik (1998)
“I really wasn’t in a good place mentally when I was working on this album. My best friend was murdered at my studio at my house. I don’t want to talk too much about it, but I was naive to some drugs that were starting to show prominence in the ‘hood. I didn’t know anything about meth, and somebody in my camp was doing it, and I was blindsided by that. I didn’t know meth made you do that kind of crazy shit. Here I am…I’m aloof and rich. I’m producing everybody and then this happened. I had to bury my friend and I kept that grief around for the longest. Then my nephew went to prison. And I needed both of those guys.
I’m a dude that doesn’t really know how to grieve. I thought you should bury yourself in your work. So I just buried myself in the making of Rhythm-al-ism without addressing the seriousness of what had happened. I didn’t know I was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It started to show in my behavior. I was like, ‘Try to be me for a while. If you don’t like how I’m acting, fuck all of y’all.’ The saving grace for me was El DeBarge coming into my life. (El was featured on the Rhythm-al-ism tracks ‘Medley For A V’ and ‘Get 2Getha Again.’) He had dealt with his own tragedy with his brother Bobby dying. For me, El was the link to his brother’s music—Switch. For him to have my favorite falsetto voice ever on my record was one thing. But then to see he was a brother, a Detroit cool cat, we kind of naturally became good friends.
Back then, wasn’t nobody tripping on El getting high. Because he could get high and still nail a show. I never tried to intervene in his business. He was a grown man, and so was I. I was a drunk at that point anyway. I’m drinking and smoking weed everyday trying to run from my problems not realizing that the shit that was happening to me was very severe and life changing. But El was there for me. He sung at my boy’s funeral. He helped me with the production. He’s hella spiritual. I am grateful to El DeBarge to this day.
And working with Nathaniel (Nate Dogg) was always great. He was the kind of person that was the voice of reason. If some shit was going crazy, he was always there. I’ll tell you a story that I’ve never told anyone. When we performed at the Source Awards in 1995 in New York we did the Death Row Medley. This is when Suge got up onstage and took that shot at Diddy. When the audience turned on Death Row and started giving us these looks, me and Nate Dogg stood up back to back. Now I’m scared because the situation was crazy. I didn’t know that Nate Dogg had been a marine [laughs]. So Nate tells me, ‘Well, if you don’t let nobody hit me in the back of my head, then I won’t let nobody hit you in the back of your head.’ And I was like, ‘For sure.’ It’s funny thinking about that now. But niggas was ready to fight [laughs].
I love Rhythm-al-ism. I worked through adversity to get it done. It ended up having the beginning signs of music that I could call my own, which is a good mix of hip-hop, R&B or jazz. It’s a little gutter thing that happens when you add the drum machine because when the tracks are too pretty they are boring. Rhythm-al-ism was an amalgamation of all of my favorite musical styles and influences. If you listen to some of those records like ‘I Useta Know Her,’ those songs are really innocent, just talking about humping on a bad girl for the first time. I wouldn’t change a thing on Rhythm-al-ism. As a matter of fact, it’s my favorite record out of my catalogue.”
No Limit Top Dogg (“Doin’ Too Much,” Buss’n Rocks,” and “Don’t Tell”) – Snoop Dogg (1999)
“I went to Snoop’s house to do those records. I helped him get his studio tight. We started recording and he dug what I did and we’ve been friends to this day. Snoop is the coolest dude. He’s the guy that you wish was your uncle. He should be the uncle to all kids. You think he’s a pimp because of how cold he could be on the hoes [laughs]. But he’s really just like the Peanuts’ Snoopy character. He’s not excitable. He’s never really emotional. He’s very calm and cool to work with. And that’s great. Because I’ve been accused of being too damn emotional [laughs].”
Fine” → Whitney Houston (2000)
“Raphael Saadiq got me involved with the Whitney Houston record. He let me come into the studio and remix it with him. Ray was pulling strings. He’s a bad boy. I met Whitney when she was married to Bobby Brown. They came to the studio and did a walk through. I even shook her hand like, ‘I got you Ms. Houston!’ I ended up really liking the ‘Fine’ record. Plus, Clive Davis was involved, and I’ll do anything for dude. Clive Davis is the greatest businessman I ever met. He’s a father figure for all musicians. I was humbled to be involved in that Whitney project. I can’t even really talk about it. I felt like Willy Wonka [laughs]. It was a dream come true.”
Balance & Options → DJ Quik (2000)
“I wasn’t giving it my all on this album. I was ready to be done with the business as far as being an artist. I didn’t think I was keeping up where the trends were going. I wasn’t rapping about the same things that everybody else was. I was pretty much just showing my prowess in the studio. Some people say Balance & Options is one of their favorite records. Me, I was just trying to build the career of Mausberg and pass him the gangsta rap torch because he had it. He had that in spades. I wanted to get him out there. But then they fucking murdered him. I had to finish his record and my record while he was dead. So I don’t think I was into the music. My mind was somewhere else. I was insane.
I crashed my motorcycle just stressing about Berg. I ended up in the hospital. Again, I was already suffering from PTSD from two years ago, and now Mausberg is dead. So what saved me? Gallons of vodka. I drank until I was numb. I tried to escape reality. I think I might have been slightly suicidal back then.”