It’s been three long QUIET years since DJ Quik showed us why we were all “Under Tha Influence” of his uniquely intoxicating beats and rhymes. In that time Quik went into a self-imposed hiatus, offering little to no reason for his lengthy musical absence. Titling his new album “Trauma” may be a not so subtle hint at the fact thatHE was under the influence of some personal problems that kept him away from what he loves most. The lyrics of “Catch 22” if true offer us a glimpse into this hell:

“Don’t be mad, I was bad, she was better, sweaty palms
But I bet her and she told your moms and wrote a letter
Now they comin back to get off of the curb
because I swerved on her (beat it bitch!)
I ain’t never been shit, that’s what my mommy said
Now they callin to check to see if I took the gun from under my bed
She don’t trust me, I don’t trust me, my psychiatrist don’t trust me
And I ain’t called ’em back, I hope the cops don’t come and bust me
I’m feelin lusty and my purple video tape is trusty
But I can’t go to sleep with lotion on because I might get musty
I ride motorcycles and crash ’em on purpose
into a crowd of bystanders so my insurance policy won’t be worthless”

Damn Quik, don’t go out like that! Fortunately it seems that tearing it up on the boards and on the mic is the therapy for the trauma in his life, because “Trauma” proves Quik is worth waiting three years for. Quik did not come back alone either. An all-star roster of guests can be found on his tracks, including Cypress Hill’s own B-Real on the lead single “Fandango” and a bonus remix. As good as it his to hear hip-hop’s best nasal MC over Quik’s funk, it’s still the man “Born and Raised in Compton” who gives us the most reason to two-step and party:

“I’m a master in disguise, movin swiftly to the thighs
Move faster than me, then I recognize
That I ain’t really got nuttin to hide
But the bratwurst skinny girl second, fat girls first
And Compton is still on my mind
I remember when we used to get scared when they got behind us
One-time sayin they been tryin to find us
But they got the wrong niggaz, never mind us
My tongue tumbles like I’m bumblebee stung
Rip out the stinger, you keep talkin shit I whip out the ringer
How many times does it have to end
right before 12:00 A.M., why you packin a Slim Jim?
I gets down on the mic like I rode down on a bike
Road rash, skin peelin tonight
The club ain’t never crackin ’til the haters be gone
We need to build the eliminator hater light, and put it on ’em”

If you’re not familiar with Quik’s lyrical style from his lengthy fifteen year career, the above verse should serve as something of a primer. Quik doesn’t necessarily spit the biggest words in the dictionary, but he does combine the words he uses together in clever and visually evocative ways. Quik is also a lyricist who is not hung up on rhyming every single line, willing to rhyme three times in two lines and then flip assonance for several lines or not even use a rhyme at all if it would get in the way of making an impactful point lyrically. And then there’s Quik’s vocal tone, which in the wrong hands would be annoying, but in his own makes him the worthy auditory heir of Compton to the late Eazy-E. And that’s no disrespect to The Game, it’s just that his voice is much deeper and gruffer, while Quik is much nearer the right octave. It’s obvious the two have plenty of mutual respect though, as Game gets down with Quik on the track “Get Up”:

“This ain’t another diss song, why they bleedin me in Quik songs
Where Snoop and Nate Dogg get they crip on
The West been gone, I’m from Compton
I know firsthand Quik been holdin it down for 10 strong
And Dre got 20 in, all you got to brag about
is a couple, bitches is spittin wimps
You wouldn’t have a deal if it wasn’t no Big
I did 106 & Park with no vid
How he get inside MTV with no spins
No Em, no Dre, I’m the hottest since Jay”

Artists don’t get that kind of respect over night or by accident. DJ Quik holds the unique and lofty distinction of being great at both beats and rhymes, putting him in the same category as relative newcomers like Blueprint and Kanye West, while making him kin to established veterans like Diamond D and KRS-One. It’s hard to say whether Quik could beat them all with rhymes, but it’s equally hard to say any of them could create tracks like “Quik’s Groove 7” or the “Pacific Coast Remix” featuring Ludacris. Like an ice cold can of your favorite beer (or for the ladies a fruit flavored beverage) DJ Quik songs always go down smooth. There may be a lot of “Trauma” in DJ Quik’s life but it’s refreshing to see it hasn’t stopped him from doing what he does best – repping Compton with another solid CD.

DJ Quik :: Trauma
8Overall Score