When legendary West Coast rapper-producer DJ Quik dropped his debut album, Quik Is the Name, in January 1991, he had no idea the sort of impact it would have on the West Coast rap scene.
Along with Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, dropped almost two years later, Quik Is the Name played a crucial role in helping shift the industry’s focus from primarily New York to the California.
Debuting at number 29 on the Billboard 200, Quik’s debut sold over 50,000 copies in its first week of release, and was certified gold just four months later. In 1995, four years after it dropped, the album officially went platinum. The crazy thing about all this is that Quik had originally planned to release it as a mixtape.
“Quik Is the Name was originally supposed to be a mixtape that I was going to sell in the ‘hood,” the Compton OG told Vibe. “I recorded it on a Tascam four-track. I did all the over-dubs, all the blending, and mixed it down on one of those Maxwell metal tapes they used to sell.”
“But along comes Dave from Profile Records looking for me like, ‘Hey dude, I heard your cassette, man. Come sign with us.’ There was a bidding war between Fred Munao at Select Records and Cory Robbins and Profile. Cory ultimately ended up beating Fred out and I signed with Profile.”
At the time, Quik was the most expensive artist that Profile had paid to sign, and he was also the first artist on the label to receive a six figure deal. As the story goes, after signing to Profile, Quik regretted his decision and wanted to sign to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records instead, who had offered him a million dollars. Profile sent a cease-and-desist letter which stopped any further interference from Eazy.
According to Quik’s interview with Vibe, Profile gave him a $30,000 budget to record the album, so the producer and his team hurried through the process to avoid spending most of the money on studio time.
“So you do the math: a $1000 a-day studio, if we get Quik Is the Name done in less than a month, that’s more money in my pocket,” he recalled. “So we got it done in 17 days.”
DJ Quik: Rappers weren’t going platinum a lot except for Run-D.M.C., Dr. Dre, Public Enemy and so on and so forth. So I still don’t understand how Quik Is The Name went platinum. I don’t question it, but I think I had a stroke of blessing at the right time. I had this edgy, dark live show that was kind of ‘hood-tinged, but it was still entertaining. I looked at myself as the average homeboy in the ‘hood; the one that made it. Ultimately I willed myself into the business.”Full Clip: DJ Quik Breaks Down His Catalogue Feat. Jay-Z, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Rakim, Whitney Houston & More | Vibe