Written by: The Bro
The Legend Rides, Again
DJ Quik & Problem are back with a full LP, following up last year tantalizing EP. The Rosecrans LP finds two of the west coast’s most underrated masters of flow providing infinitely replayable riding music for your summer. While calling Quik “underrated” may make a true west coast fan shake his head in disgust, unfortunately the reality is that most rap fans aren’t familiar with him. Which is a god damn shame given that he is one of the most influential producers of all time, one of the best mixers in rap history, and has never fallen off. Rosecrans opens with a wave of synths and signature slapping percussion. “Let the background sing, while I’m in the back doing background things,” Quik declares on European Vacation, as if summing his career.
While the west coast has seen a variety of rappers reach some level of mainstream success in recent years, from YG to Kendrick to Schoolboy Q, Problem hasn’t been able to reach similar heights. It’s certainly not due to talent, as he might have the most acrobatic and melodic flow of them all. Quik’s groovy production provide the perfect soundtrack for him as he glides through jam after jam. Over guitars and synth basslines, he weaves in and out of A New Nite/Rosecrans Groove like an instrument. The track ends with a breakdown that feels like a call for the old folks to hit the street and get their step on.
Whereas many duo and collab albums end up feeling stale, Quik and Problem sound like a perfect rap marriage. The infinite groove of Quik production would make even a decent rapper sound good, but Problem elevates well beyond that throughout the project. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than on Straight To The City, an emotional ode to the city and the dead homies who helped build it. Compton’s staple on hip hop is undeniable (“every list ever written has my city in it”), and this project proves quite definitively that Problem is one of its greatest sons.
The title track brings the soul. Strings, bass, and snapping drums ride shotgun as The Game takes us through the hood. It doesn’t take long to realize how good everything sounds on the album. Lush, live instrumentation is blended effortlessly with programmed drums that slap (or snap) at just the right level. You Are Everything features a familiar Stylistics sample with a wall of sound layered around it. Chachi’s Ride unleashes the g-funk with an infectious bassline and 80s sax riffs. If you close your eyes you can see the sun setting and smell the city.
The album’s feature list is a who’s who of west coast luminaries. Dom Kennedy sounds better than he’s sounded in quite some time on Bad Azz, over a beat that’s impossible not to nod your head to. Their beef long in the past, MC Eiht joins Quik on not one but two tracks here, and each is dope. “I used to ride the back of the bus like Rosa Parks, down the mainline shouting hood remarks,” Eiht declares on Central Ave, a track which sounds like a classic theme song.
It wouldn’t be a Quik album without Suga Free, who stops by on the final track, Funny How niggas Gonna Change Things. “A pimp is the only mother fukker who can sell a product and sell it again,” Free muses in the midst of another classic pimp tangent. Rosecrans feels like one giant party full of familiar faces, yet never feels old or like you want to go home. And Quik never lets the records stop. “Metaphorically, categorically I’m genius” he raps over another great instrumental. Not many rap artists could make that argument two decades after their debut. Rosecrans is riding music. It’s summer BBQ music. And it deserves to ring out from car to car for years to come.