In 2013, YG released “My N—a,” the potent lead single from his chart-topping Def Jam debut My Krazy Life. The Rich Homie Quan and Jeezy-assisted track, also known as “My Hitta,” climbed into the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, serving as the Compton rapper’s biggest hit to date. The track was subsequently certified platinum in 2014 and the official remix featured Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and Meek Mill.
Almost three years later, the track has reemerged this week at the center of a controversy. The veteran Compton producer DJ Quik — whose resume includes work with 2Pac, Snoop Dogg and Jay Z among others — accused YG on Twitter of failing to credit him properly for his work on “My Hitta.”
On Monday, Quik fired off a string of since-deleted tweets (see them on HotNewHipHop here). “Y’all had me engineer and record My N—a for @YG and did not give me credit,” he wrote. “My Lawyer has you [in] his sights. You’ve f—ed up.” Later he added, “You don’t F–K with Dj Quik.” (YG and his management offered no comment.)
— DJ Quik (@djquik) August 10, 2016
The next day, Quik hopped on the phone with Billboard to tell his side of the story and how he’s switching up his creative process in the studio moving forward. Read Quik’s version of events in his words below.
[YG and I] both had mutual management at the time. They called me like, “[YG’s] from Compton, Quik. You should hook him up.” I hadn’t had a working relationship with YG before that. I meet him and I like the guy. YG’s cool. He’s a little bashful, but I get it. It’s just like Snoop was when he first came out. We were all a little bashful because we didn’t understand being thrust into that light of being a celebrity.
We booked the studio, Hollywood Way. There’s some engineers there too that didn’t get their credit and they were a little disappointed. The manager came in and played “My N—a” on YouTube. It was muddy, not mixed — a good idea — and somebody leaked it straight off of ProTools. I was like, “Yeah, I could fix that. I could clean that up.” I pulled the session up and I started doing the same thing I always do. When I engineer, I charge ten grand to engineer and mix records. That’s fair because I impart my sound to it. I still have that session in my drive right now.
I pull the song up, clean it all up, put it through that SSL board — SSL is one of the best recording systems ever. I made it really dynamic, cleaned it, did all the little stuff that needed to be done. Then I stemmed it out. That’s a term that sound guys use when you have to make it easy for someone to remix. Instead of them having this whole jumbled console full of one hi-hat here, one horn sound over there, you put them in stereo stems so it all makes sense.
I made it super easy and super loud so anybody could’ve technically mixed it. And that’s what they did. They didn’t like the way I blended it, which is cool, so they had somebody else blend it. But before that happened, YG said he had to do the vocals over. So one of the engineers at the studio grabbed my microphone. I have a Neumann 67, which is the hot sh–. All the greats use it. I put in my 67, even went in and was talking to him in the booth like “Nail this sh–” and what not. He nailed it.
I put it on tape and that’s why that record sounds different than all his other records. I took the time to give it the same treatment that we did with [2Pac’s] All Eyez On Me, the same treatment I did with [my album] Safe + Sound. I’ve spent a lot of money and a lot of years and worked under the tutelage of a lot of great producers just to learn those chops. Just to be giving them away for free because I’m not relevant any more or because somebody wants to be a dick and give somebody else my credit because maybe there’s a kickback involved? I don’t think that’s the way to do business.
Behind the scenes, YG would say to people, “Quik did a great job on ‘My N—a” but that doesn’t hold the same weight as me being down as an official engineer on your song. They’re like, “We had somebody else mix it” but it was already stemmed. That means it sounded like it did the night it left the studio. He didn’t do anything different, what I have on tape versus what they have on tape.
I don’t want to get in a pissing match. I’m just disappointed that [YG] didn’t even give me — or the other engineers in the studio — the simple engineer credit. That’s just disrespectful. Those kids are in there working for that credit. They hear the record on the radio all the time! All they’ve got is that credit – that’ll get them more work on other projects. That’s how this business works. We can’t keep f—ing over the studio world. If they go out of business, music is gonna go to hell.
I’m not even angry about it anymore. I’m paranoid. Somebody’s gonna try to get me in the studio and say, “Quik, have a drink. Hey Quik, can you make these vocals sound better?” And I’ll do my thing, and they’ll be like, “Oh my God, it sounds like the Beatles!” And I’ll be like “yeah, that’s how they did it.” Before you know it, I won’t get the credit. This totally changes the way I do studio business going forward with anybody.
I don’t think it’s done intentionally. People are ignorant to a certain craft and sometimes, they do something and it’s not out of malice. Sometimes it’s just out of not knowing. I have to be the bigger guy, accept all the “DJ Quik is crazy” tweets. I’m not crazy. I’m just an emotional cat who does the right things with the wrong people. Now I don’t want to go in the studio anymore. I’m over it. It’s not even worth it.
It took five to six months to get the two grand. The record’s out; I’m still trying to get my money. Guys, it’s principle. This is not how we do business correctly. It seems like I got taken for a ride the whole way. I don’t want that to happen again. I won’t even go into the studio now unless there are contracts there and our lawyers talk about before we do a session.
It hasn’t happened before. Or if it has, it’s been something like you don’t have to give me anything for that — on a handshake, we’re good. I’ve got all my Tupac plaques. I was in there doing his posthumous albums, even though those were hard because he wasn’t there.
It was like, are you guys saying I’m over? Is there a reason? You go through your head and try to rationalize it. What was the point of jacking me for a credit? I don’t jack nobody for a credit. I work with anybody, they get a credit. I’ve been producing for almost 30 years. It’s not complicated.
I’m not gonna try to hypothesize or guess or assume anything, but I was very disappointed in how it all turned out. It’s changed the way I do business. I’m like a professor. I really know sound, if nothing else. I’m not walking up into a studio [from now on] without letters of intent being signed.
What happens [now] is the record company will say it was a minor oversight, don’t worry about it. On the next press of anything that goes out with this record, we’ll put the entry on the new records from here forward. They can’t do nothing retroactive. I get that but I’m not a ghost writer or a ghost engineer. If you want somebody to be a ghost engineer, go get a ghost.