Few hip-hop artists have the motivation and/or necessary chops to keep an instrumental interesting, produce a touching tribute to the late Roger Troutman or stay on the sidelines for a song while a crooner such as James DeBarge handles all the vocal duties. When Quik does grab the mike, the results are usually venomous, as when he shoots back over a misleadingly cheery beat on "Sexuality" at those women who would label him a scrub, or when he lets the disses fly on "I Don't Wanna Party Wit U." Known for his lyrical wars with MC Eiht and Everlast, Quik now chooses to let his targets remain nameless, so at least the poor soul who bears the brunt of the brutal "U Ain't Fresh" can take comfort in his relative anonymity. Combining on this tune with the always-angry Kam, who melted Ice Cube three years ago with "Whoop! Whoop!," Quik combines harsh, often homophobic insults with an infectious backdrop.
Quik hasn't abandoned his roots, as he proves by covering Eazy-E's "Eazy-er Said Than Dunn," and he hasn't cleaned up his content -- the bitch-per-minute count remains high. Those who say he's gone soft should consider the courage needed to deliver piano accents, soulful singing and smooth jazz guitars when the market calls for rapid-fire kick drums and all-encompassing bass. It's a brave gambit to bring genuine musicianship to hip-hop, and although Quik's latest effort isn't an unqualified success, it does operate on a different plane than most of his peers, reinforcing his status as one of the genre's trailblazers.