The Primer: 10 DJ Quik Songs Everyone Should Know

By 11.15.12

With technology making every arm of Hip-Hop more accessible by the minute, the multifaceted role of rapper/producer has exploded in recent years. But, while rap’s DIY spotlight currently sits on the J.Cole and Big K.R.I.T.’s of the world, very few will ever match the overall versatility of DJ Quik.

Despite never achieving the mainstream success of his peers, this Comptonite was and still is able to deliver an array of rich material that covers any genre from extended-play jazz to hardcore gangsta rap. Plus, his gourmet buffet of beats have complimented not only Q’s own brand of up-close and personal bangers, but notable tracks from everyone to Ludacris and 2Pac to Whitney Houston and Nate Dogg. Oh, and the man can hold down a Jheri Curl with the best of ’em.

If you haven’t given it up for the crown prince of The West Coast and don’t have time to sift through his Atlantis-deep catalog, get up to speed with these ten choice tracks from the one & only DJ Q-u-i-k, with no C.

Previously: 10 Public Enemy Songs Everyone Should Know

1. “Tonite” – Suprisingly, the first single in Quik’s storied catalouge might be his most significant. Based around a Kleer sample and adolescent house party, this record from the Left Coast MC’s 1990 Quik Is The Name debut propelled the CPT native into the national spotlight and helped him earn his one and only platinum album to date. Still a killer at any function, too.

2. “Born & Raised In Compton” – Only DJ Quik could flip a situation like having his house ransacked and equipment stolen into a hit record. For the second successful single from his Profile debut, our favorite Piru poet turned that trifling situation into this story song, displaying the 21-year-old’s CPT roots and sample-based sound through an imaginative narrative.

3. “Summer Breeze” – After rushing out his second album to capitalize on early success, the crowned prince of the West Coast delivered his most solid release to date with his third LP, 1995’s Safe + Sound. The album featured Quik at his most complete, brandishing a refined sense of instrumentation throughout the release and even more of the utmost honesty that’s come to characterize his output over thr years. However, it’s this feel-good ode to a chlidhood full of fight or flight that might be the album’s peak point.

4. “Dollaz & Sense” – As tension grew during the mid-90s in the offices of Death Row, DJ Quik’s close associate with the label seemed to bleed into his music. Consequently, track 10 on Safe + Sound found the usually level-headed MC spewing venom on rival CPT rapper MC Eiht throughout this scathing, uptempo defamation of charactor – a track many consider to be one of the hardest diss songs ever recorded.

5. “Youz A Ganxsta” – This is a stark contrast to the last track, which is partially what makes Quik so great. After coming up in the game as a conceptually-sound gangster rapper and seeing the real-life reprecautions take close associates to the grave, the real life David Blake decided it was time move forward with both his life and music on the crown jewel of his catalog, 1998’s Ryhthmalism. Backed by Moog synths, funky flutes and chopped-up samples of R2-D2, this coming-of-age single epitomizes the revolutionary sense of fly that not only advanced Quik’s mindset, but overall production style.

6. “Down, Down, Down” – Throughout his entire career, DJ Quik has always relied on his own artists and closed-knit crew for features. Of all the notable tracks matching that criterion, this body-rocker from Rythymalism might be the quintessential selection, as the song showcases Suga Free’s remarkable pimp poetry, AMG’s animated delivery and the late Mausberg’s unmatched mic command – all over one of Quik’s most advanced productions.

7. “Sweet Black P*ssy” – “DJ Quik is in the motherf*ckin’ house” At age 19, Quikster introduced himself to the world with this raunchy number.

8. “Pitch In On A Party” – Always one to offer an atypical point of view to generic concepts, Quik flipped the typical hip-hop house party theme for his grown-up-oriented 2000 release Balance + Options, by describing the disadvantages of inviting a bunch of drunks over to mess up your spot. However, the dirty details didn’t stop this unwavering host from lacing the timeless track with thumping drums and elegant quitar waves, that’ll still turn out any dancefloor to this day.

9. “Quik’s Groove VI” – One of the highlights on each of the CPT producer’s eight solo albums is hearing the latest Quik’s Groove. Completely unique each go round and ranging across numerous genres, the instrumental series has always allowed the prolific producer’s talent to shine beyond the constraints lyrics can present. And, while they’re all notable in their own right, the sixth installment from his under-appreciated 2002 release Under Tha Influence is especially fresh, as it allowed Quik to channel his inner Herbie Hancock with a funky, jazz beat that could get the Royal Guard bopping their head.

10. “Nobody” – The past two or three solo albums from the Quiksta have been filled with an abundance of rappers of the moment, which didn’t necesarrily hurt their quality, but was just atypical of his in-house style. That’s why this single from Quik’s 2011 release The Book Of David was so refershing, as the rhythm-guitar-laced ditty reunited Q with his former permed-out protege and reinforced California fonk for years to come.

To further your education on the sociable sounds of DJ Quik, browse his complete catalog on iTunes and follow him on Twitter at @DJQuik.

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