Compton-born DJ Quik has been a force in hip-hop since the late 1980s. While he may not be the platinum hitmaker he was during the 1990s, he’s still a passionate sonic artist who's blazed a creative path that allowed his music to evolve into a very personal sound. Quik’s gone through several distinct phases, working both in the spotlight and behind the scenes, and Complex caught up with him last week to speak about all of it in detail.

“I don’t even talk to my mom this long,” Quik quipped as he went deep, connecting what he was doing musically to some of the key moments in his own remarkable biography, going into detail about what equipment and techniques he used, and speaking on all the people, places, and especially his own mindset during each recording session. Quik broke down everything from his sudden superstardom with the song “Tonite” to his mid-career collaborations with artists ranging from 2Pac to El Debarge, and even some of his little-known contributions to massive hits by the likes of 50 Cent and Rakim.

Quik even spoke on the money, the girls, and the street drama that surrounded him throughout his music career, and how his work with Dr. Dre helped him deal with some of the tragedies he’s witnessed over the years. After this epic interview, two things become quite clear: First, Quik is an open book with a very precise memory. And second, his impact on hip-hop history is both truly profound and largely unappreciated. Until now, that is...

As told to David Drake (@somanyshrimp)