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Posse Revival: Great Rap Albums: TRAUMA

Quik & Kurupt’s Blaqkout is in stores now and excellent. As per request, here is a reup of my review of Quik’s last solo album, the very overlooked Trauma that originally ran on 2/20/08 as part of the Great Rap Albums series over at that one site.

DJ Quik – Trauma (Mad Science, 2005)

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“It was so dark, some of that music flat out makes me cry,” Quik told me of Trauma, when I interviewed him last year for Scratch. “You couldn’t possibly process going to court in another county, you live an hour and a half away from that motherfucker, and at 8:30 AM you gotta get there, face ten years possible prison time. And when court is adjourned, you have to drive another hour and a half back to hollywood, to go in the studio to produce a record.”

Quik was facing time for pulling a pistol on his own sister, allegedly in response to a kidnapping attempt she was trying to run on his kids. And, on top of his familial and legal issues, he’s explicitly struggling with the trappings of Southern California. He was still reeling from the murder of frequent collaborator Mausberg and appropriately critical of not only the gang culture he grew up in but of economic and cultural disparity. “Every level of living except for the Mid.”

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Quik seemed to be falling apart amidst such disorder. His once playful run on sentence style seemed to be coming unhinged, his well worn, snide player persona dissolving into paranoid madness (”I still love pussy but I don’t like the bullshit that come with it”).

Still he’s infallibly comfortable behind the boards and the record doubles as both a glimpse of his diary and a producer’s album. Quik frequently passes both the chorus and as many as two verses to guests and only has four solo records. It’s a direction he had been taking more frequently with the previous couple of albums, except here he’s got celebrities like TI, The Game, and Wyclef in place of the Suga Free/Second II None/Hi-C axis (AMG is the only member of the old 304 Posse to make an appearance). And even though these superstars eat Quik’s track length, they primarily serve as a perpendicular counterpoint to his manic diatribes. They’re all cutting the type of breezy, ho hopping records he’s has been making for the fifteen years prior and the beats reflect this vibe too. Typical top down genius music. But then he jumps on and talks about how bloods beat up all the girls in San Diego or how his mother and psychiatrist are begging him to get rid of the gun under his bed. So things quickly get a little darker. Take the Ludacris collab “Pacific Coast (Remix),” originally “Spur of the Moment,” a lightweight party cut from Luda’s Red Light District. For it’s Traumatic incarnation Quik tweaks just one sixteen and a few loose lines, forgoing his tales of freeway smoking sessions and passed off pussy in favor of criticizing scheming baby momma’s and hollywood superficiality.

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And therein lies Quik’s trauma, a man at war with his two inescapable relationships – his family and where he rests his head. Still, for, all this venting his natural sense of humor definitely shines through, and it makes for an entertaining breakdown, at the very least. If guiltily so. It’s the type of brink of sanity funnyman opus that Eminem spent the first half of his career trying to synthesize. Except Quik wasn’t in character.

At least it seemed therapeutic. Post-incarceration Quik has been on the happy tip, for better or worse.

Further listening: DJ Quik – The Trauma Mix
Further reading: Mike Davis – “City Of Quartz”

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(This has been part three in the occasional and newly anointed Great Personal Turmoil in Rap series. In the past readers have criticized my interest in the break down (and I don’t mean funky drummer) rap album, but I feel no shame. Quoth The Bunk: “that’s what great art is – to be private in public.”)


16 Responses to “Posse Revival: Great Rap Albums: TRAUMA”

  1. mark p. Says:

    Great rap album indeed. Could Quik have the best overall discography of any west coast MC/producer?

    On a totally unrelated note, I’m surrpised you’ve only briefly mentioned (Gangsta) Pill once on this blog. His last mixtape is fucking great, first couple songs make him sound like a southern Boot Camp Clik member or some shit. Can’t wait for his next tape.

  2. Kyu Says:

    Yo. Where is the other parts of Great Personal Turmoil?

  3. noz Says:

    IIRC, the other two records were MF Doom Operation Doomsday and Common Sense Resurrection. I think I might have done a fourth as well? Maybe I will dig them out in the coming weeks.

    I liked the Pill mixtape, I probably should have written about it more.

  4. Funky Funati Says:

    i just love this album… i remember Quik saying he’s waiting for a Grammy invitation for this.
    too bad no one buys good music nowadays, so he didn’t get there… (although i gotta admit – Late Registration is a little better)

    i hope BlaQKout does good, Quik is one hella underrated MC and he deserves some more props from all coasts

  5. Supreme Neck Protector Says:

    Shoutout to whoever mentioned Pill ’cause Pill is really fucking good at rapping. Aside from Playboy Tre, I think he’s the hottest ‘freshman’ rapper out.

  6. pileofshirt69 Says:

    Wait, this got officially released? I thought this was just bootlegged and surfaced on the net in that weird stretch in 2008 that saw the arrival of the Death Row MC Hammer album.

  7. noz Says:

    No it got released. You are thinking of that weird “Quik On Death Row” collection.

  8. Elijah Says:

    Great to see this up again, the article that convinced me to give Trauma a listen.

    Any chance of an mp3 of BlaQKout’s iTunes bonus track showing up soon?

  9. faux_rillz Says:


    Would you particularly recommend any other post-“Safe & Sound” Quik albums? That’s the last one I’ve heard…

  10. noz Says:

    Balance & Options is cool, but hardly essential.

    I wasn’t all that into Under The Influence

  11. Funky Funati Says:

    Rhythm-Al-Ism (1998) is Quik’s best album, a true classic with not even one skippable track.
    but as far as i see it, Quik has one solid discography, non of hisi albums are less than 8 (out of 10). he’s a true artist who is too slept on

  12. noz Says:

    Yeah Rhtyhmalism is retty great. Meant to mention it.

  13. Posse Revival: Great Rap Albums: TRAUMA « RapSide.nl ::..Stijl van de muziek..:: Says:

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  14. mark p. Says:

    I love those two albums (Balance and Under The Influence). More than Trauma, and I really like Trauma.

    Cosigned that Rhythmalism might be his best. Oddly, Safe And Sound feels like it’s the best Quik album while I’m listening to it, but for whatever reason I don’t listen to it anywhere near as much as any of his other LPs.

  15. David Says:

    jesus yeah cant believe fauxrillz hasnt heard ‘rhythmalism’ — also there are def some essential tracks on both ‘influence’ (joint with Pharoahe is whats up) & especially ‘balance and options’

  16. David Says:

    my favorite part of Quik’s career is basically from rhythmalism on

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