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DJ Quik

Not Afraid of Change

ďA day in the life of a playa named Quik,Ē is how most of the country was introduced to DJ Quik on his first single ďTonight,Ē an early taste of West Coast G-funk with a smooth Betty Wright sample. Fifteen years later, Quikís classic jheri curl is gone, but the hustle remains. The rapper, raised in the tough streets of Compton, is now developing younger artists, and he continues to tour and rap. He took a break from preparing some steaks to speak with SF Station over the phone. He performs at the Fillmore June 10th.

SF Station (SFS): Whatís a typical day in the life of DJ Quik now?

DJ Quik: First, Iíd like to say that a typical day in the life of DJ Quik when he first came out between 1991 and 1999 was enjoying the success of being a West Coast artist. I was loviní it because the West Coast was hot. But, now that the West Coast has really cooled off and itís almost become swept under the rug, itís kind of hard having to bare the cross of the death of West Coast hip hop.

Because Iím venturing into other things, it doesnít drive me crazy or make me want to be a mad rapper and ask the fans why they arenít going to the stores to by our product. Times have change and people are into different kinds of music. In essence, a typical day in the life of DJ Quik now is more like being a record company mogul, i.e. L.A. Reid or even Jay-Z. Iím trying to find new things to put out there on the marketplace and bring the shine where it belongs -- not to the coast but the artist.

SFS: Youíre touring with a 13-piece band. That must be a record for a rap show.

DJ Quik: Yeah, actually I just wrapped up my live CD, DJ Quik Live at the House of Blues. It came out a lot better than people would think. Itís real honest. I didnít cheat and bring the audience (volume) up. People more successful than myself in the past have done that with their live albums -- they sensationalized them. I didnít do that; it didnít need that because the audience was in tow. We caught it on Pro Tools and loved it.

SFS: You do a lot of producing. Do you play any instruments yourself?

DJ Quik: Honestly, all these years Iíve said I play piano, synthesizer and drums, but after seeing what my musician friends do I realized that I donít play shit. I donít really play anything, I just write ideas at the piano. If I really wanted to play Iíd have to go back to school and learn to play on a virtuoso level the way my musician friends play. These people are bananas. They find chords that make the audience go crazy.

Iím not sloppy on the piano, or my synthesizers and the drums, but Iím a producer and I think Iím an above average drum programmer. Iím just being honest. Whatever that might cost me monetarily, so be it. Iíll pay it.

SFS: On one of your hits ďJust like ComptonĒ you describe some pretty crazy scenes from when you were on tour. Does is it still get wild when you are on the road?

DJ Quik: I think people that had that kind of aggression back in the day did one of two things -- they either got killed or went to jail. Theyíre not as much a part of the crowd anymore. In fact, I went to an Ice Cube concert recently in Ventura and I can remember (in the past) when the audience was all black with a little bit of Mexicans and others. Everybodyís hands were up and it was mostly black hands, and the people backstage were the business people -- the white guys. In 2006, that has totally flip-flopped. At the concert I went to, the whole audience was white and the few people backstage were the few people that survived the treacherousness of the hood. In 14 years it turned totally around.

SFS: How does that make you feel?

DJ Quik: I feel good for living long enough to see it. I feel a little funny that it has changed so drastically. Itís totally 180 degrees from what Iím used to. Iíve always believed that anything that stops growing dies. If we all want to keep growing, we canít be afraid of change. I wanted to grow; I wanted to keep having fun.

Iím lovin' what E-40 is doing. Iím lovin' what even Puffy is doing with Young Joc. Iím lovin' what my peers are doing in this game because they keep evolving and having fun. They keep people in the club not thinking about problems outside of the club.

SFS: Thatís kind of what the hyphy movement is all about in the Bay Area.

DJ Quik: Everybody loves that shit. We all support that -- not just because -- but because itís authentic and itís fun. I still spin my cars out to this day. I canít front, Iíll spin a Corvette out or spin a Porsche out. Itís like a release.

DJ Quik Performs at the Fillmore on June 10. Tickets are $25 for the 9pm concert.