DJ Quik is a Los Scanadlous, California staple. The emcee/producer has been repping for the West (Compton, to be exact) for quite some time. After a career that has gone through its share of ups and downs, Quik has reinvented his sound and has created something brand new in “Trauma.”
The successes came early but rap’s pitfalls hit Quik like a ton of bricks. After the fame and love gained from his earlier works like “Quik Is The Name,” the mainstream audience kind of dwindled in it’s affection for the Westcoast emcee. Not to mention, Quik was always in the shadow of Dre, Snoop and the like. Recently, though, Quik’s made a name for himself once again. Although never truly gone, (if you ask his fans) there has been a resurgence. He’s given many artists some incredible production, including work on 2Pac’s latest official posthumous recording and Jay’s farewell to rap, The Black Album. The rebirth came as Quik began introducing a new style of his own. “The sound is big and warm,” he told Scratch Magazine earlier this year. That “big” sound Quik is referring to can be heard loud and clear on “Trauma.”
Much like his career, this album has high and low points. The high points are most notable in the beats. The big bang of “Fandango” creates an explosive sound off the top. On this, the B-Real assisted single, loud horns and ill drums mix and become potent as Quik and Real flow. Just when you think the song is bangin’ enough, a guitar hits the listener out of left field. Essentially, that’s the point. It’s fresh, new, and out of nowhere. “Black Mercedes” drops a mellow track somewhat reminiscent of his earlier works like “Tonight” but with a 2005 twist. The tambourines and scratches on here add more layers to the album that has ill rhythms all over it. The funky “Get Up” and the bouncy “Get Down” create some diverse, yet cohesive sounds. Just as quick, DJ Quik can become a soulful maestro with pianos playing on “Jet Set.” Old faithful should not be wary, though. This eclectic mix of soul, jazz and Latin soul sounds mix well with Quik’s style. Plus, he’s still got the classic Westcoast feel on tracks like “Spur of the Moment Remix” and “California.”
Unfortunately, these high points don’t always translate into the lyrics. During an interview with Scratch, Quik also mentioned that this album would contain real personal issues he had to deal with. “I’ve been through some garbage, and I hate to say it, but hard times make the best records,” he said in the May/June issue. If this is so, then why don’t we get more narration about the “garbage” Quik referred to? While we do get a sense of his despair on “Jet Set” and some other tracks, the insight is brief. With such high-quality beats, it’d be great to hear more meditative and personal lyrics to match. Nevertheless, lyrically, he does shine on some cuts like “Intro For Roger” and the very personal “Jet Set.” Tracks like “Catch 22” and “Til’ Jesus Comes” show raw emotion in the witty, yet anger-filled rhymes and some equally ill beats.
With a cast of guests consisting of Wyclef, Chingy, Ludacris, T.I. and Nate Dogg, the album has enough changes to keep the listener interested throughout. Here, though, Quik is the main attraction. While he may lack the lyrical prowess of some of his peers, Quik is still a name and force to be reckoned with. Through each bangin’ beat and powerful Westcoast vibe the album has, it manages to be a pleasant pick. Although the album has a great overall melodic feel, it would have been nice to see Quik working with the pen more. While it is entertaining, it’d be great to get something more personal about the “garbage” he has gone through in the lyrics. Even so, Trauma is still an album worth checking for.