When most people’s days are ending, DJ Quik’s are coming to life. The peace, the freedom and the innovation that comes to the Compton, California rapper-producer late at night inspired him to name his new album The Midnight Life.
“It’s the way that I feel at night,” the DJ Quik explains of his new album, his ninth studio project and one where his supreme lyricism and exemplary musicianship co-exist magnificently. “It really is what I like, the witching hour. It’s an ode to having fun in the midnight hour. That’s the best time for making music and drinking. It’s quiet, especially if you’re in a recording studio. You can hear everything and you know everybody’s asleep. You can sneak and do your best work. It’s party time.”
The party starts with lead single “Life Jacket,” a bright, warm song feature longtime collaborator Suga Free and revered California rapper Dom Kennedy. “It’s the most lyrically viable and current song on the album,” DJ Quik reveals. “Plus, you’ve got Dom Kennedy and Suga Free on there just clowning. It’s very melodic and super catchy.”
DJ Quik showcases his sly sense of humor on “Fuck All Night” and his tremendous musicality on “Quik’s Groove 9” and “Bacon’s Groove.” “Quik’s Groove 9” is an ode to the late Roger Troutman, one of DJ Quik’s favorite artists and musicians, while “Bacon’s Groove” showcases the so-called “guitargasms” of longtime DJ Quik collaborator Robert “Fonksta” Bacon.
“It turned out to be a more advanced ‘Quik’s Groove,’” DJ Quik says of “Bacon’s Groove.” “It’s really advanced. Some of those guitar chords have never really been played in that order. It’s over the top. But Bacon is over the top. He’s an over-developed guitar player.”
DJ Quik flexes his own remarkable skill on “Trapped On The Tracks.” Here, he uses sounds of a train to help craft a striking beat upon which Bishop Lamont, his son David Blake and Quik deliver a series of high-octane braggadocio rhymes. “I was just being creative for creativity’s sake,” DJ Quik explains. “I wasn’t trying to make a statement. I didn’t plan for it to be a single. It’s just fun and I’m back to having fun with samplers because samplers are what made me.”
DJ Quik also puts his sampler to good use on “That Nigger’s Crazy.” Inspired by Richard Pryor and featuring DeBarge, the cut is the first full song on the album, a selection where he brings listeners up to speed with some of the tumult he’s faced in the last several years.
“With that being like the intro, it’s important for me to stay current, to pick up where I left off on the last record and to listen to what people say about me in the streets and let it go in one ear and out the other,” he reveals. “I didn’t feel compelled to explain anything, but at the same time, I felt obligated to clarify.”
One person who has long helped DJ Quik make things clear is Tweed Cadillac. The Penthouse Players Clique member had lost touch with DJ Quik for several years, but when he reconnected with DJ Quik and joined him in the studio for “Broken Down,” it was as if they were back in 1992.
“He added his own classic style to it,” DJ Quik explains. “He just came in and lit up the studio. It reminded me of why Eazy-E signed him and why he discovered me. I wouldn’t be out if I didn’t meet Tweed Cadillac. I’d be in jail or dead. I was going a whole other route and he believed in me. Even though he didn’t have any money, he had good energy and a couple connections.”
DJ Quik also extended his hand to his son, David Blake. The two share a name and DJ Quik wanted his son to appear together on The Midnight Life. They combine on “Back That Shit Up” (which also features TF 3Rd), “Trapped On The Tracks,” “That Getter” and “Shine.”
“Dave has always wanted to be on my records,” DJ Quik says. “He just wasn’t ready. He’s a drummer, piano player, rapper, beat programmer, engineer. All that. I figured, if there’s going to be a time for me to add your element of the new California shit, you are young enough, but you’re smart enough. You are hungry enough, but you’re not thirsty. If felt like it was time, so I gave him the opportunity.”
DJ Quik has been creating his own opportunities since breaking through in 1991 with his platinum debut album, Quik Is The Name. From there, his musicality, lyrical savvy and polished production established DJ Quik as one of rap’s most complete artists, someone who could create a song by crafting magical sonics and memorable lryics – and record himself while making the tune, too.
As DJ Quik was releasing his first eight studio albums, he also became a go-to artist and producer, working with 2Pac, Jay Z and Murs, among others, during his illustrious career. His work is also a fixture in such iconic film and television projects as Menace II Society, Training Day and Entourage.
But by the time he was working on 2011’s The Book Of David album, DJ Quik’s life had become filled with negative individuals. Now, thankfully, those people have been removed and DJ Quik’s musical output has improved, as has his focus.
“I didn’t have any distractions with this record,” he says. “There was no outside anything playing on this record. There’s a certain kind of anxiety that goes with doing hip-hop music and sometimes as artists, we create our own heaven and hell. We bring in the drama sometimes. I’m guilty of it myself. At one time, I thought I couldn’t make a record if there wasn’t any drama going on.”
Now, with The Midnight Life, DJ Quik has again hit his creative stride and delivered a sonically stellar project. “Musically, this album is a bulls-eye,” he says. “Can’t nobody tell me different because I’ve seen it give people chills. I’ve seen it make people happy, smile, drink, party, dance, ask for it on repeat. This album is for people who like to have fun.”
Welcome to The Midnight Life.