DJ Quik Delivers Another Consistent Effort On ‘The Midnight Life’
No disrespect to the self-proclaimed regulators (the late Nate Dogg and Warren G), but DJ Quik also pioneered the G-Funk sound. The Jheri-curled MC has always kept his music gangsta, while sprinkling in a bit of funk. Throughout his career, he's consistently put on for Compton (1991's "Born And Raised In Compton", 1992's "Just Like Compton"), which has led rappers like Kendrick Lamar and YG to drop knowledge on his impact. He's also embraced hip-hop's fascination with swag, popping bottles and living that life in earlier works like 1991's "Tonite" and "8 Ball". And we can't forget how he toppled Compton rival MC Eiht on "Dollaz + Sense" in 1995. These examples of his most popular songs show that lyrically the rapper named David Blake hasn't changed much. On his tenth studio album, The Midnight Life, the West Coast icon is still putting in work, delivering some strong music for his loyal fan base.
DJ Quik begins The Midnight Life with “That Ni***r’s Crazy,” featuring El DeBarge. The rapper/producer waste no time reminding listeners why he’s still banging out albums after twenty years in the rap game. Quik’s crisp and steady flow meshes well over the hard piano-driven track as he brings fans up to date with his latest roadblocks such as infatuated women, fake Twitter gangsters, and his love for hip-hop and alcohol. The “Life Jacket” rapper always had a knack for penning humorous lines. And the Left Coast vet still has that gift. On “That Ni***r’s” Crazy” he raps: “And, I’m so cool I can nut ice cream” and “I was acquitted at the trial only my hair is on locks.”
The album’s momentum keeps flowing with the Tay F 3rd and David Blake II (Quik’s son)-assisted track, “Back That Shit Up.” Over hard bass and synths, Quik doesn’t sway from the theme of bitches, money, sipping, and smoking formula that has worked for him throughout his career. In other parts, he recruits Bishop Lamont and his son again for the lyrical banger “Trapped On The Tracks. ” This song commands attention with its train sounding and bass heavy beat. Plus, the OG has no problem going toe-to-toe with hip-hop’s young breed, Bishop Lamont. However, Quik’s successor, Blake II, has trouble holding his own next to the more experienced MCs. The first quarter of the album concludes with “EL’s Interlude 2,” featuring DeBarge.
With the exception of “Puffin' The Dragon,” where Quik reflects on his love of music and his impact on hip-hop, the middle half of the album lacks the lyrical wordplay that's packed into the album's beginning. The next couple of tracks—“Pet Semetary,” and “Life Jacket,” featuring fellow Cali MCs Suga Free and Dom Kennedy—finds Quik rapping about the everyday life in the Sunshine State, which isn’t nearly the same as his loked out days.
“That Getter” finds him talking about how his grind got him out of the Tree Top Piru street gang. The Mack 10-assisted “The Conduct,” which uses the Roger Troutman-inspired Talk Box, and “Shine,” are mediocre and sloppy attempts at the all-too-familiar theme of stunting. At this moment of the album, it seems like Quik ran out fire while recording these songs.
The Midnight Life shows that Quik has a passion for making music, even if it necessarily doesn't bless the ears of today's hip-hop fans. In a genre where styles and flows change, Quik—including his content--remains the same, which validates his authenticity. If you need reminders, just listen to "Why Did You Have to Lie" featuring Joi and "Quik's Groove 9."
However, he fails to adjust his style to the newer generation, who, for the most part, define what’s popping in hip-hop. While DJ Quik doesn't quite connect with them as he did in the past, his dedication for creating music and catering to his diehard fans validates why he's a living legend.—Darryl Robertson