DJ Quik Tells All: The Stories Behind his Classic Records

Suga Free "Why U Bullshittin?" (1997)

Producer: DJ Quik
Album: Street Gospel
Label: Polygram Records

DJ Quik: “At that point we were trying to cut costs in the big studios because we didn't need the big tape machines any more. Everybody was dumbing it down to DA-88s and their own little shit.

"So I set up shop at a house in Compton and did Suga Free's entire album in the garage, like a garage band. And nobody knows the difference. You can't even tell because I'm such a great fucking engineer. Everybody's trying right now—I was just mentoring some kids trying to produce, and everybody's so crazy about Dr. Dre's mic path, like 'we need his mic chain, that Dr. Dre mic chain. Can you tell me what it was so we can buy it?'

"My thing to them is, a mic chain is a mic chain. A mic chain is not going to make you a hit record. It's how you use whatever fucking equipment you've got. Whether it's a $10 mic or a $10,000 mic. A piece of equipment has never made a hit record. It's all about riding levels, same as riding a motorcycle. It's inertia. You get a signal moving nicely and you don't touch it any more. If it sounds good and it's got no static in it, leave it right where it is.

“Back then I was using Neumann mics, taking Neumann mics home, but I say that was impractical, because the cheapest Norman mics back then were like $3500 to $4000. I was using two pre-amplifiers like TL Audio, before Avalon came out, I ended up buying Avalon too. But real tubey mic pre's, and did the mix between set, class A discrete and solid state. That was my thing.

"I was into the way things sounded and behavior. So that was a good record because we did it and it sounds incredible. And it was recorded and mixed in my homeboy Black Tone's garage.

“That record is based on 'Heartz of Men'—the drum thing. I wrote the crazy bassline. I think we were burning out the funk shit. Dr. Dre is doing a lot of Moog, Warren G is doing Moog, all of these other artists are doing Moog. Above the Law, AMG, everybody is doing the Moog sound. Even on the east coast, Biggie and them were doing Moog, Diddy, Moog. Outside of Wu-Tang clan and other more hip-hop affiliated groups.

"So I got into like Indian music. I started experimenting with the sitar. And even though it was a sample of a sitar, I changed the notes to where it only pitched in like halfway, played in between the notes. That's how you get that twangy movement in the sitar.

"I appreciate that record because to this day it sounds great, and it's totally influenced by Indian music, Bollywood. I helped usher that in, I was the first to mix that with hip hop and make it palatable for my hip-hop fans."

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