DVD REVIEW: DJ Quik – Visualism


Artist: DJ Quik

DVD: Visualism

Label: Fortress Entertainment

Rating: 9 / 10

Reviewer: A to the L

Ok, name a famous West coast Hiphop producer… c’mon quick. Dre? Yeah ok… now lets try this again with a subtle change in words.

Name the best West coast Hiphop producer. Dre again? Arguably, although his output of recent years has definitely seen his position slip. DJ Quik? Now you’re talking…

You can argue a good case to position Quik top of the tree – even over the good Doctor. Yes, its true that their backgrounds, and shit, even some of their beats are similar, with many tracks from both of these artists containing that familiarly funky west coast flavour – but its undeniable that Quik’s beats are more musical, more variable, and arguably more “fresher” than most of Dre’s output. With this in mind, its refreshing then that rather than jump on the Dre bandwagon, with all the juicy 50 Cent and Eminem tie-ins that a move like that could bring, Devin Dehaven and the cats at Fortress have chosen to focus on a few days in the life of Quik instead.

For those who’ve peeped Fortress productions before you’ll perhaps be aware of how these cats get down. You’re gonna get exclusive concert footage and backstage shit that no normal fan could ever hope to seem while at the same time taking a peep at the more “human” side of the artists… how they spend their spend time, what their feelings on certain subjects and situations are as they happen, all filmed in a “right there on the scene” style without ever seeming that the cameras are becoming too intrusive.

For those who doubt that rap music is “real music” – take a look at this video. Where you’ll see footage of other artists from other genres of music as WELL as Hiphop, letting their hair down by spending money and flossing, Quik is different. If he ain’t on stage, it seems that he’s ALWAYS in the studio… and its this studio footage that will interest both fans and other musicians the most. It’s a trip to see him poised over a mixing board, before tweaking and adjusting knobs and switches in a frenzy, before listening to the result, and then going back for a little more adjustment. Its a trip to see him sit down at a piano and bust some dope little pieces off the top – both his own compositions, and other’s work being replayed. Its a trip to see him working with other artists like Suga Free, Hi-C and Nate Dogg, and coaxing and cajoling them into making their shit tighter and tighter. It’s just a trip watching a master at work.

And then to watch him take the results of this hard work, and go out on stage and use it to whip the crowd into a frenzy… it just gives you a buzz. Whether its Seattle, Portland, Reno, or LA the crowd reaction is still the same – they love what Quik does, and he and his crew love doing it for them. The beauty of music at work y’all. And don’t for one second assume that West coast rap, even that of the ‘gangsta’ variety, is all about violence – proved by the footage of Quik stopping a song in Reno, and refusing to continue until a fight at the show has been stopped, and then explaining afterwards how (to paraphrase) a fight at a Quik show is a bad reflection on him and his music, and on Hiphop in general, and how it only serves to reinforce negative images of Hiphop music. Not only is the man a musical legend – he’s a SENSIBLE musical legend too!

Its also enlightening to see Quik’s crew get their turn in the spotlight to shine. Suga Free and Hi-C both get camera time to explain how they hooked up with Quik, and how much they enjoy working with him, and what their relationship means on both a musical and a friendship level. Spliced around these sections are audio and video from either artist, which highlight the high standards they’ve both attained while they’ve been down with Quik, with Hi-C’s classic ‘I’m Not Your Puppet’, and the less well-known but equally dope ‘I Got It Like That’ particularly standing out. Also worth checking for is Suga Free’s breakdown on the pimpin’ game, footage of Quik and El Debarge at work in the studio, and an emotional segment dedicated to deceased homie Mausberg.

Elsewhere, you’ll witness Quik in semi-serious moments explain his views on a few subjects that have commercially blown up and seem to get more and more media spotlight. The first is Compton itself, which has grown from just another Californian city, to an instantly recognisable Hiphop haven, with rent-a-rappers with no skills claiming the CPT as their own, and trading on the groundbreaking efforts on NWA and Quik amongst others, for their own financial gain. Quik shares his side of the story explaining how he grew up in Compton listening to Mixmaster Spade, King Tee and NWA, and living the life they spoke about on record. The second subject is the “B-Walk”. Seemingly more popularly known in the media and on wax as the “C-Walk”, this celebratory LA gang dance often has ominous undertones… again Quik breaks down the history of it from a Blood point of view, as footage of him and his boys busting the moves live in concert are shown.

But its the studio footage that makes this DVD a winner. Quik gives the guided tour around his studio, talking us through his love affair with his MPC drum machine (“the MPC 3000 is my like my right hand – and I’m left handed”), his keyboards, and mixing boards, and his obsession with keeping things analogue! (“Music wasn’t meant to be on computer – music was meant to be on tape.”) We then get to again see the maestro at work, as he “details” a track, his hands a blur as they play with the controls on the mixing desk. Dope.

As if that wasn’t enough, the extras that Fortress have squeezed on compliment and add to an already fantastic package, with special footage of “Backyard Boxing” asskickings, a look behind the scenes at Quik’s Bungalo Records, and four music videos – the recent cut ‘Trouble’ featuring AMG, joined by three Quik classics, ‘Born & Raised In Compton’, ‘Tonite’, and ‘Quik Is The Name’ being the standout bonus freebies.

Again, its another Fortress DVD that can’t be faulted. These guys have the market sewn up with this angle – I certainly haven’t seen anything to rival the work they’ve put in, or the end product, from any other company. Quik fans will definitely snatch this up, but Hiphop fans in general should definitely make this a purchase. Grab it soon.

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