Over the past few weeks, we've been bombarded with headlines that almost certainly had 2012 doomsday theorists ducking for cover: untold political unrest throughout the Middle East and Africa, a horrific earthquake and nuclear scare in Japan, and right here in the good old U.S. of A we narrowly avoided a potentially catastrophic government shutdown. Yet somehow when the weather starts getting warm and DJ Quik has a new album on shelves all seems right with the world, and so we find ourselves with his eighth solo LP "The Book of David." 2011 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Compton legend's ground-shaking debut, and in the two ensuing decades David Blake made his name as arguably the best producer to call the West Coast home. "The Book of David" won't be changing anybody's mind, as it's seventy minutes of delectable audio treats.
Quik brilliantly walks a fine line throughout "The Book of David" by bringing back his familiar soul and funk-rooted sound, yet as always making the subtle adjustments that have kept his music fresh and exciting since '91. The bright keyboard synths, sunny high hats, and judicious use of strings and horns are his trademarks, recalling his classics that proved soundtracks of summers past, and the warm-weather vibes are inescapable on his latest as well. Few hip hop producers evoke California better than the Quiksta, and the lush "Do Today" serves to do just that. Spinning the uber-smooth "Luv of My Life" in temperatures below 70 would practically be sacrilege:
"A lot of players got the game distorted
If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it
Plain and simple, cut and dry, right to the chase
'Cause sometimes you gotta put them niggas in their place
Everybody can't make it to the pros
Some rise to the top, others down low
Some ride in the drops, others just stroll
That's the way the water flows if it ain't froze"
"Ghetto Rendezvous" is a mature reimage of his vicious mid-90s disses, and "Killer Dope" is a sonic delight, with an ingenious arrangement flawlessly blending a warm piano cadence, crisp drum pattern, and soaring horn fanfare that wouldn't sound out of place at this week's royal wedding. Summertime jams like "So Compton" feel like throwbacks not because they're musically dated, but simply because that type of pure feel-good music is so rare today it seems like a relic of an earlier era.
The extensive guest roster on "The Book of David" makes for a slew of fantastic collabos. Just as he rescued R&B vet El DeBarge from obscurity for 1998's "Rhythm-al-ism," he taps Jon B (yes, that Jon B) for no less than three songs, and the white boy responds by sounding as if he were born for the task of blessing a smooth Quik track. "Real Women" is a glorious showcase of their chemistry, with Jon B's airy vocals soaring over the light, tasteful production. Quik makes magic with R&B luminaries, and Dwele helps out on "Time Stands Still," a phenomenal slow jam that brings to mind an Isley Brothers classic. Quik sports real maturity with poignantly-delivered pillow talk between Dwele's impeccable crooning on a track that stands among his finest work and couldn't seem further removed from his lewd '90s material such as "Can I Eat It?" and "Tha Ho in You." Elsewhere, the unlikely union of Bizzy Bone and Quik yields the dazzlingly frenetic "Babylon" which should only increase demand for a rumored full-length duet. Bizzy sounds energized over the best production he's seen in years and also appears on "Across the Map" with the trusty Bun B. Quik and old friend/part-time adversary Suga Free are reunited on the ultra-funky "Nobody," and Kurupt returns for the bright, guitar-sparkled "Flow for Sale" less than two years after their full-length tryst "BlaQKout." Perhaps most noteworthy of all is Ice Cube's guest "twenty years in the making" on "Boogie Till You Conk Out," another feel-good winner perfect for the suave after-party:
"I may never dance to ballet in the valet
But you just might see me two-step in the valley
If that's a real expensive car in the alley then it might be me
Playin' hooky from your local TV
'Cause I'm flyer than an EB
The extraterrestrial biological entity with Elliott
But you call him ET
Now let's get your BMX ready, let's ride it out
Let's do me like Drew Barrymore and let's hide me out
Give me a phone to call home, let's dial it out
That could cost three-hundred-and-twenty-one million dollars a minute
Now why wait, why not just call me great
Why not just call me Blake
I spend enough time on the airplane, why not just call me freight
Why not just call me late, not why"
His young understudies BlaKKazz K.K. and Gift Reynolds both appear multiple times and prove versatile collaborators, adding strong and serviceable verses to Quik's luscious tracks.
"The Book of David" stands apart from his other work as one of his most lyrically impressive pieces to date. It would be all too easy to tread water on the mic given the quality of his production, but Quik sports the hunger of a new jack with the self-assuredness of a rapper twenty years in. Vocally and verbally he shines with a veteran performance including verses crafted ideally for the smooth slow jams as well as the upbeat funkers and heavier street jams like the opener "Fire and Brimstone":
"I'm a Mercedes man, a late-eighties man
I guess you could call me the perennial ladies' man
Got some really rich friends and they all really like me
'Cause I really pitch trends
Sometimes when I'm bored I kick it with dumb folk
They all really hate me like rottening egg yolks
I love to rub it in because I'm not a proper fit
For your world of bullshit
Your miserable muddy mind is flawed by design
You'll never have the temperament to experiment
With the benevolent, you're irrelevant
It should be your job to shovel shit
You need to cultivate and develop it
Get in the manure business and sell a bit, good luck trick"
The stunning closer "The End?" features the recently departed Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer and former P-Funk member Garry Shider, who cleverly recreates the "Street Level Entrance" from "Safe + Sound" before Quik goes in on a somber, heartfelt-sounding production. And it wouldn't be a Quik LP without one of his patented "Quik's Groove" instrumentals—"Quik's Groove 9" appears as a bonus track and shines with the best.
With strong lyricism, impeccable production, and a consistent tracklist—only "Hydromatic" and "Poppin'" lack the rest of the LP's highlights—DJ Quik has turned in another gem sure to keep lowrider stereos and headphones alike busy throughout the summer and beyond. Even though Easter's just passed, rap fans everywhere are sure to keep coming back for more of the good "Book."
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 26th, 2011