While enjoying a slice of sweet potato pie at a Los Angeles restaurant on a March afternoon, rapper/producer DJ Quik reflects on one of the most impressionable moments of his life: when fellow West Coast rapper Eazy-E died of AIDS in 1995.
"That's humbling to me. I don't want to die that way," says Quik, born David Blake, a self-professed former gangbanger. "That's why these days I encourage kids to join the Army Reserve. Fuck joining a gang; you'll only end up in jail or dead. Go out and do something for the world instead of selling drugs or getting girls pregnant."
Episodes like this have served as the inspiration for DJ Quik's new album, "The Book of David." The set is scheduled for an April 20 release through Quik's own label, Mad Science Recordings, with distribution through Fontana. Quik produced the album in its entirety while Ice Cube, Dwele, Bun B, Jon B and Bizzy Bone make guest appearances.
"Lyrically, I'm just kind of being defensive on this album; I'm pointing out some people that have really pissed me off along the way," he says. One of those people might be his sister, who put him in prison for assault in 2006.
Rumors about Quik being on drugs or "afraid of the competition" -- most specifically Dr. Dre and his forthcoming "Detox" album -- have floated around in the past couple of years as to why he hadn't released music since 2005's "Trauma." But Quik, who learned how to play bass guitar in the interim, says that while those speculations might serve for a better story, the real reason is that a few years ago he was awarded custody of his daughter.
Still, not all is drama on "David." First single "Luv of My Life" (featuring Gift Reynolds), soon-to-be-released second single "Real Women" (an accompanying video is currently being shot in Hawaii) and "Time Stands Still" (about a long-distance relationship) all relate to matters of the heart.
The marketing plan to roll out "David" carries the same personal theme, according to Rona Mercado, VP of marketing and strategy at the Cashmere Agency, which handles DJ Quik's marketing and publicity.
"Our position is to show that Quik is a dope music artist and producer and to demonstrate how he's evolved through the years," she says. To present this to Quik's fans, a series of webisodes will be placed on various hip-hop blogs and news sites. There will also be a few Ustream chats scheduled in the near future.
Additionally, the Book of David tour will kick off the day of release. Quik is scheduled to perform at South by Southwest this year, as well as continue his Quik's Groove residency at the Key Club in West Hollywood.
While he does get personal on the album, Quik hopes, if nothing else, that fans will appreciate the workmanship he put into the album. "I know we're in a singles world with iTunes and all, but this record is an ode to the sonically genius," he says. "I hope to affect the industry again and I'm willing to work hard for it."