DJ Quik Admits Losing Passion In Music-Making Since Tupac & Notorious B.I.G. Deaths (Audio)
DJ Quik is the latest guest for NPR Hip-Hop’s Microphone Check interview series. In a week that’s brought tragedy and suspicion to former members of Quik’s circle, the iconic producer/DJ/MC opens up, with NPR’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest) and Frannie Kelley.
The interview is as in-depth as you will find surrounding Quik’s latest album, The Midnight Life, with questions and conversation surrounding lyrics, titles, and themes of the independent LP. Additionally, David Blake revisits some lesser-storied parts of his life, from the extensive work with Switch’s El Debarge on Rhythm-Al-Ism (as well as how to properly pronounce that title), to soaking up game from Rick James, Roger Troutman, and earliest mentor Boston (the ’70s Rock & Roll band) producer John Boylan.
Along the way, Quik explains building his vocal tone around Eazy E, who attempted to sign the artist—but was allegedly discouraged by Priority Records CEO Bryan Turner. Additionally, Quik claims he was managed by Suge Knight as far back as 1989, two years after Suge’s brief NFL career, and long before Death Row was even an idea. Ever open and big on name-brands, Quik breaks down the restaurants and nightlife of Compton (in the ’80s and today), his car and motorcycle habits, and the studios he likes most.
But what may resonate most—is the powerful quote, where the once fiery MC who was entrenched in Gangsta Rap, and feuds with others, including MC Eiht—came to a cold stop in the late ’90s.
“…Back in the day, we were on the clock — I was living a 24-hour-a-day life thinking about the length of my contract, my recording contract. Cause it’s like I gotta make all the money I can — that’s what we used to hear all the time. “Make all the money you can and save it.” So I was scared making all the money I could. Like, producing there in the studio. Sleep. Waking up in there. […] And that was the passion. I was driven to do that. Now, fuck the studio, man. Turn this shit off. This shit’ll be — if we go get some rest and some chicken pot pie and some stew and some crab legs — you know what I’m saying? We eat good? Then we can come back tomorrow. We’ll be hot. […] It’s just different. I’m not in love with it like I used to be. And I hate to say that, but that’s just kinda what it is. Not passionate about it, but I’ll hit now and then. Like, I’ll hit. I’ll still make a hot record or I’ll still do a really inspired show, you know, or performance. But there’s something — I don’t know. When 2Pac and [The Notorious B.I.G.] died, something in me died too. […] I don’t know what it is, but it’s dead.”
DJ Quik produced extensively on 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me double-album, in addition to posthumous work. The pair were label mates at Death Row Records in the mid-1990s. Quik was also in attendance at the Peterson Auto Museum the same night as The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered. Years later, in 2011, Quik admitted that he was deemed an early suspect by the LAPD, although never accused.