With more than two decades of service to the rap game, calling David Blake a veteran might be the understatement of the year. Known to most of the rap world as DJ Quik, the rapper/producer literally grew up on wax. From chronicling the highs and lows of gang life out West to creating party anthems for himself and others, Quik paid the cost to be the boss. TWV caught up with Quik shortly before the release of his latest effort, The Book of David to get his thoughts on the new album, why he won’t be mad if you download it, and violinist playing “Mo Pussy.”
The Well Versed: Talk to me a little about the new record.
DJ Quik: My new album is just an ode to 80s music. It’s how to put a record together that says something. It’s an album. The art of doing an album is lost on the new iTunes world that’s just single driven. If you can think beautifully, musically, for seventy minutes, you’re up there with the Barry Whites.
The Well Versed: And what’s the concept behind this one?
DJQ: No concept. Just my life set to music. Everybody told me I should write a book because I’ve had so much fucked up shit happen to me. I’ve got ADD [laughs] I can’t write a mutha fuckin book. If I can do an album and use some excerpts and put it to a beat, but I can’t write a book.
The Well Versed: It sounds like you had a lot of fun recording this
DJQ: It was dumb. First of all, I’m hanging out with Ice Cube. I’ve never worked with him. Why’d it take us twenty years?
The Well Versed: Is there anybody else you want to work with?
DJQ: I’m helping the new hip hop movement in Los Angeles. There are a lot of talented cats, but they’re under the stigma that because it’s the west, it’s not going to blow. I’m talking about Kendrick Lamar and Dom Kennedy. They’re getting respect around the nation. It makes me feel like a proud godfather.
The Well Versed: What else can we look forward to?
DJQ: I believe you should put people on where they can blow. I’ve known Kendrick for years, instead of putting him on a mix tape, I got him paid from EA Sports. I put him on NBA Live 2010 on a record I did with Murs and Kurupt.
The Well Versed: You mentioned that you weren’t too concerned with sales, but is the process different when you’re working with a label versus putting an album together yourself?
DJQ: You got damn right! You get woke up in the morning with bills. People saying you need to pay this or pay that. How much is it? $16,000. I forgot how much the record companies were spending, until I became the record company. Even before the record hit radio, I’m out of $100,000. Jesus Christ!
The Well Versed: And with the new era, there’s a lot of downloading…
DJQ: Good music will sell itself. I’ll take the loss on the download. If y’all are going to download it, cool, just play it for somebody that might buy the album. It’s a mix tape at that point. If you’re going to do it like that, tell them it’s the best sounding downloaded album you ever heard.
The Well Versed: What makes you so cool about that?
DJQ: I used to try to steal too. I was a thief in my day. I was quick handed. I understand. There’s a funny energy you get when you got something illegally. There’s a certain excitement, like you’re getting away with something. For all that excitement, you’re costing somebody money.
The Well Versed: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to new guys coming up?
DJQ: Y’all don’t need advice. By being an individual, you’re different from every individual you respect or detest. Carve your own path. And every now and then, look behind you to see if anybody is walking in the path you’ve blazed.
The Well Versed: There’s been a lot of speculation on Dre’s Detox. Will we be seeing any DJ Quik beats on Detox?
DJQ: If I am, it’s something I did a few years ago. I want to hear it. Dr. Dre will make a new Detox album every three months. It’ll be a whole new album, like “What happened to those twelve other tracks?” He’ll dish those beats. Give them to50 or Eminem. Hopefully he’ll let it drop. We need it. It’s not even about it being a success or failure. The anticipation is starting to make people callous. What are we waiting ten years for? Give us that.
The Well Versed: You said you’re playing all the instruments now, is that self-taught?
DJQ: Self-taught, but guided by some of my favorite musicians. Dave Foreman used to play with Aaliyah and Anthony Hamilton, so I went and bought a bass because of him. Now I’m learning how to Larry Graham this mutha fucka instead of just being on the turn tables.
The Well Versed: Do you think that you get the respect you deserve?
DJQ: Of course not but I don’t care. People like me don’t get respected until we die. That’s when all of my records will sell and people will look back and say “this dude was thorough.” My music translates to sheet music so well, you’ve almost gotta hate it. I have violin players with sheet music in front of them that says “Mo Pussy,” and they’re playing the shit out of it. Suit and tie guys, Asian girls, playing the shit out of my music. I’m alright.