DJ Quik - Balance & Options
Hidden Gems: Showcasing Slept-On Sounds
DJ Quik dropped his first project, The Red Tape, three decades ago in 1987. He’s been in the hip-hop game longer than your favorite rapper has been alive. Quik spent his early career innovating, if not inventing, the classic West Coast bounce style of beats, much like the more well-known producer/rapper from Compton, Dr. Dre. During the 90s, in the shadows of Dre and his Aftermath label’s empire, Quik’s fame faded and his sales fell drastically. His ability to rap and produce, however, did just the opposite. Before the end of the millennium Quik had four studio albums under his belt. Since his start in ’87, he has produced jams for the likes of Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, and Jay-Z, to name a few.
With his fifth studio album Balance & Options, released in 2000, DJ Quik turns the party out with clever lyricism on top of his classic production. Quik showcases his unique P-Funk style of production (differentiating from Dr. Dre’s “G-funk”), pushing boundaries with new sounds and deep baselines that the legend from Compton specializes in. Balance and Options delivers house party vibes reminiscent of Quik’s earlier works and cemented his place as a West Coast hip-hop staple.
Although Balance & Options contains all the DJ Quik trademarks – the West Coast P-Funk beats, clever wordplay and a sizable dose of misogyny, it was Quik’s improved sound quality that built on his existing catalogue. On the opening track “Change da Game,” Quik came to do as the title suggests, and change the game with his high-grade sound. Over this intro beat, Quik shows his lyrical prowess and spits knowledge about growing up in the hood and the media coverage of his hip-hop peers, spitting:
No joke, cause growin’ up dirty, hungry and broke Don't mean I gotta be dirty, hungry and broke Dude I made a way out a no way, and y'all can too Cause it's a whole lotta legal shit that y'all can do And fuck the media, keep on steppin’, yeah I said it… (Media) Only show us when we doin’ bad.
The psychedelic funk and distinct rhymes are a constant through the entire album. Tracks like “We Came 2 Play” showcase Quik’s ability to produce banging party beats with heavy bass lines, complimented by perfectly subtle piano and drums. The party continues on my personal favorite “Pitch In On A Party,” where the rapper/producer delivers a laid back beat and catchy hook. It’s a groove that will make you want to pitch in on a party with your homies and guarantees that everybody at that party will be nodding their heads. Check out the music video below..
Quik’s lyrics take a more serious turn on “I Don’t Wanna Party Wit U,” even though the beats stay on that same party vibe. He emphasizes his status as an OG in hip-hop with lines like:“If ya missed it, I stay consistent, We got heat, C-P-T style, O-G me style, The D-J, Q-U-I-K with no C style.” He raps about his dismay for the music business and the importance of control over his own work with bars like: “I'd rather be a young exec, than the puppet on the other end, Dangling by a noose on his neck.”
DJ Quik follows up on these heavier subjects with some comic relief on records like “Sexuality” and interludes like the “Motex Records” skits. On the 11th track “Quikker Said Than Dunn,” Quik hits listeners with “a Quik Dedication, to the creator of gangsta rap music, Mr. Eric Eazy E Wright.” Sampling the beat from Eazy’s record Eazy-er Said Than Dunn, Quik flips a classic and makes another one with his own lyrical flavor plugged into Eazy-E’s flows.
The remainder of this quintessential West Coast hip-hop album plays out with Quik’s clever lyricism on top of his timeless party grooves, and can be best summed up by the man’s own lyrics:
“See lyrics ain't nothin' if the beat ain't crackin' And these beats smackin', that's why the G's keep stackin', n***a.”
Listen to Balance & Options by DJ Quik below, and be sure to check out the rest of Quik’s catalogue if you get down with it.