Beginning his musical career on the mixtape circuit in Compton, California, DJ Quik has gone on to become the most expansive signee to Profile Records. In the 25 years since, he has spent time as an “R&B pretty boy,” the creator of a Top 10 album, an independent distributor, and an artist on a six-year hiatus. In between those musical and personal movements, Quik released Safe + Sound, an album whose title may reference his sense of inner peace after years of tension with Ruthless Records, a bounce-back after a scrapped album, and his reunion with early manager, Marion “Suge” Knight. Today (February 21, 2015), that album turns 20, reminding us how pivotal 1995 was for West Coast Rap and for David Blake himself.
Despite being imbued with the earmarks of most of Quik’s music–Funk-based sampling, tongue-in-cheek wordplay, and a heaping dose of misogyny–the album ushered in a new Quik, one who was leaving the streets of Compton for more mainstream projects like the Above The Rim soundtrack and soon, 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me. Already a platinum-selling artist (thanks to 1991’s Quik Is the Name), the MC/producer/DJ released Safe + Sound during Rap music’s own “gold rush,” when label executives all but tripped over their own feet trying to sign a hot California artist. With all that competition in his backyard, it seems Quik took the opportunity to improve on his already incredible production techniques, incorporating a significant amount of live instrumentation, including contributions from George Clinton, the progenitor of Funk. In addition, Cameo front man Larry Blackmon and P-Funk/Talking Heads pianist Bernie Worrell can be heard grooving on the record, elevating Quik’s funky proclivities from being not only ingeniously sampled but also orchestrated. Other inclusions like a long flute solo on “Somethin’ 4 Tha Mood” and the third installment of his jazzy “Quik’s Groove” tracks make the album a sonically dynamic piece of work, both quintessentially West Coast and decidedly progressive.