Atzi DJ Quik @ the Gaelic
Thursday, March 15th 2012
Reviewed by The Baroness
In the thirty plus years since the ‘official’ inception of recorded Hip-Hop music, one could argue that no sub-genre of Hip-Hop music has permeated popular culture quite like the legacy of gangster-funk a.k.a. G-Funk. Vehemently abhorred by pockets of so-called Hip-Hop purists as misrepresentative, a thoughtful yet limited mind could argue that g-funk as a style remains reliant on a myriad of mid-west funk styles made famous by such luminaries such as the P-Funk collective and Zapp which have just been recycled for brainless mass consumption to generate profit. Literate music aficionados in contrast could counter that the sprawling hypnotic grooves, heavy baselines and funkdafied multi-gender lead & background vocals that characterize g-funk compositions are not only a modern extension of a rich legacy of funk music, but an authentic interpretation of Hip-Hop by a region that observed the signifying, dozens and braggadocios party roots at the core of East Coast born Hip-Hop music, understood it, and in turn offered up a unique sonic concoction of unbridled phatness that could have only been born and nurtured in that commodified but strikingly natural, golden yet smog-filled contradictory city of Los Angeles.
G-funk has bred more than its fair share of classic records and iconic personalities. Legendary musician/producers who twenty years into the game continue to innovate and set a template for how to grow with your audience? No one can and has done it better than David Blake, better known under his stage moniker, DJ Quik. Over the course of his career fans have enjoyed scathing battle lines go down in infamy, fell out laughing over hilarious snaps and raps, listened to intently biting commentary of L.A. street politics, and empathized alongside highly confessional lyrics. We’ve outright jammed to funk that bumps, sang along to soulful hooks a-plenty, and cooled out to his legendary jazz-fusion inspired ‘Grooves’ which have peppered the majority of his releases. So when it was announced that after twenty years the still young-looking, gifted and black Fresh Coast legend himself was bound for Australian shores for a brief tour, minions came out in scores.
Ain’t nothing like a fresh coast party. As a former resident of Ghost Town and Palms, I can testify this well-known catchphrase is the truth and was hella ready for ish to get poppin’. It became evident I wasn’t alone in my sentiments. Though the assembled crowd at the Gaelic no doubt showed love to the scheduled support acts, it became rabidly clear that the party really got started when Quik’s official tour DJ Quix05 got behind the decks. A veteran party-rocker and regional turntablist champion back Stateside, Quix05 had the years of experience to know that barking at the crowd to ‘wake up’ wasn’t necessary and that the musical legacy of the Fresh Coast spoke for itself. Easefully teasing the crowd with back-to-back snippets of g-funk inspired classics, his too-brief musical homage prompted appreciative roars from the crowd, and was the perfect precursor to this historical night for West Coast music lovers. Soon after, DJ Quik finally graced the stage with his presence, prompting the Gaelic to thunderously erupt.
Quik’s twenty-year career has been ripe with memorable moments. In my opinion he couldn’t have started his Sydney set off any better than by dropping the first-verse to his classic diss track Dollaz + Sense. Though he did not spit those ingenuous diss-lines (he’s on good terms with Eiht these days), I have no doubt that fellow long-term fans appreciated the nod to that classic moment in battle rap history. No doubt Quik understood that long-term riders to his music wanted (and deserved) classics galore, and he was evidently more than happy to deliver the goods. An impeccably rhythmic, on-key spliff-wielding performance of Bomb Budd quickly ensued. Three songs in and long-term fans were already partially satiated for their old-school jonez, further cemented by the inclusion of Born and Raised in Compton. Though it was apparent that jawns performed from the album ‘Quik Is The Name’ held a myriad of memories, there was plenty of love shown for his more recent catalogue. This was evident by the crowd’s response to Put It On Me where Quik rhymed both Dre and his verses to an appreciative audience. We were than treated to an excellent performance of Ghetto Rendezvous, featured on the exceptional and under-rated album ‘The Book of David’. Telling of Quik’s professionalism is that though he messed up the two lines in the first verse (you know you did – haha!) a casual listener would have never known as his delivery never faltered for a second.
Sweet Black P***y, Black Mercedes, Get Down (which got this former Cali resident getting her Gangster Slide on in the limited space available), the crowd at the Gaelic was being pummeled with relentless Left Coast goodness. When Quik began reminiscing about recording with Tupac Shakur right after his release from jail, it not only solidified his place as an under-the-radar West Coast icon, it potentially revealed to those who may not have been as well-acquainted with his legacy on how DEEP his legacy goes and how far-reaching his talent has stretched. My one point of contention with Quik was when he blatantly quipped to the crowd that he considers himself a producer, not a rapper. Though I understand that Quik is a serious appreciative student of funk and soul music, a diligent producer with an unparalleled ear for melodies and arguably delivers THE best mixed albums in Hip-Hop music, period (yes, even crisper and clearer than Dre, mu’fuccas) he is and has been the voice for many moods and moments which is why his fans are so unabashedly loyal over the years. Go beyond his party jams and delve deeper in his album tracks and you will see an artist who has seemingly never been so vested in his personae that he’s forsaken and feared speaking his heart and mind on record. I truly believe over the years he’s been slept-on lyrically, so, out of this belief I cannot and will not co-sign any sentiments that deny him the place he deserves, even if so expressed by himself.
As the night continued daps, spliffs, and handshakes were exchanged freely between the man of the hour and the crowd. Several moments were set aside and dedicated in memory to legendary deceased artists like the aforementioned Tupac Shakur and Eazy-E, with Quix05 transforming Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ into a distinctly new beat on the decks in tribute to the King of Pop. For myself, Quik’s shout-outs to Nate Dogg hit my heart the hardest, as it was on this exact date one year ago, March 15th, that Nate Dogg transitioned. It was these small yet sincere gestures from one friend and fan like Quik to his former peers that helped metamorphosis the night from merely being just another Hip-Hop show to a more intimate and celebratory house-party. Freely rhyming into folks iPhones and cameras, when he broke out his collaboration with Tony Toni Tone ‘Let’s Get Down’ from their immaculate ‘House of Music’ album in full, the night truly reached a pinnacle. Descending into the crowd to get down and spread the love, holding up the mic to his fans mouths so they could punch in words, musical communion had climaxed. And it was sublime.