DJ QUIK: One of the most revered figures in rap since his early-’90s debut, DJ Quik emerged as a formidable rapper/producer and extended his career working primarily as a funk-inspired beatmaker for stars and protégés alike. Quik, born David Marvin Blake, made a name for himself in his native Compton, California by compiling mixtapes that also featured AMG, 2nd II None, and Hi-C. On the basis of these tapes, he was signed to Profile and debuted with Quik Is the Name (1991), on which he produced all the tracks and rarely shared the mike — a rare solo rap artist to do so. The album spawned the Top 20 Billboard R&B/hip-hop chart hits “Tonite” and “Born and Raised in Compton” on its way to RIAA platinum certification. Through the ’90s, DJ Quik added to his solo discography with Way 2 Fonky (1992), Safe & Sound (1995), and Rhythm-al-ism (1998), all three of which were certified gold. During this decade, Quik racked up outside production credits as part of Penthouse Players Clique and granted beats to several fellow rappers, mostly West Coast associates, but his most successful collaborative effort was Tony! Toni! Toné!‘s “Let’s Get Down,” a Top 30 pop hit for the R&B group.
TOO $HORT: Too $hort was among the first West Coast rap stars, recording three albums on his own before he made his major-label debut in 1988 with the RIAA-certified gold Born to Mack. Anticipating much of the later gangsta phenomenon, he restricted his lyrical themes to explicit tales of sexual prowess and street life, with the occasional social message track to mix things up. After six consecutive platinum albums, he retired during the late ’90s, his status assured as one of the most successful solo artists within his genre. The decision proved to be short-lived, as the Bay Area legend resumed recording for primary label Jive, then went independent again with numerous full-lengths and guest appearances throughout the 2010s. Likely the only rapper to have recorded with 2Pac, the Notorious B.I.G., and Jay-Z — all superstars indebted to his work — he has remained an inspiration for his coolheaded, vulgar verses and sparse, funk-infused beatmaking.