The Fixxers: Way Too Fonky

In Hip-Hop, reinvention can be harder than getting recognized in the first place. While Zev Love X was able to later mask himself as underground superstar MF Doom and the Genius scratched the surface of what would become GZA, both examples are well over a decade old. DJ Quik arguably needs no reintroduction. Few could […]

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Hip-Hop, reinvention can be harder than getting recognized in the first

place. While Zev Love X was able to later mask himself as underground

superstar MF Doom and the Genius scratched the surface of what would

become GZA, both examples are well over a decade old.

DJ Quik arguably needs no reintroduction. Few could contest that outside of N.W.A. and Snoop, he’s been the biggest other

star of the West Coast since the early ’90s. Beyond just an artist,

Quik has produced classic records for 2Pac, Truth Hurts and more

recently, Jay-Z’s “Justify My Thug.” One longtime collaborator has been

AMG, an artist who since his 1992 club hit “B***h Betta Have My Money,”

has been reduced to a cult following and feature work. While

skeptics might have forecasted a collaborative resurgence of the two

veterans on a certain imprint crudely called a “graveyard,” the duo,

now known as The Fixxers, got their chance on Interscope Records – a

label not recognized for signing 36 and 37 year olds.

Approaching 40, The Fixxers have the glow of youth in their hit “Can U Werk Wit Dat” from The Midnite Life

album. The track is high energy, low drama, and fun. After years of

turmoil, including a brief stint of words for one another, so is DJ

Quik and AMG. As one cracks the jokes, the other admits that gangster

rap is passé. The attitude may have changed, but the perm hasn’t, and

neither has the fact that this music is “way too fonky.” AMG, you’ve been quiet over the last few years. Did you

just wake up one day and decide to get back in the studio?

AMG: Nah, I’ve always been in the studio working, it’s just been a matter of getting that s**t out there the right way. What do you feel has been your biggest obstacle?

AMG: Quik’s perm. [Laughs] You’re too funny. Both of you guys are comedians; it must be fun to be back in the studio together.

AMG: Yeah, it’s a bunch of laughs. Why did you guys stop working together in the first place?

AMG: We really didn’t, but sometimes a n***as gotta do what a n***a’s gotta do. And what might that be?

AMG: Ya know, just when you wanna feel like yourself and go off and do your own thing. And how did you feel when he went off to do his own thing?

AMG: Oh it wasn’t no problem. Sometimes we used to get on each others’

nerves, man. You can hang out with people for a minute then

motherf**kers start tripping. So what made yall come back together?

AMG: Well, when I got the boy out of prison, he was all stanking like a

lil’ dog and I bought him some Hennessey and got him a couple of

prostitutes. Were you a good friend and put money on his books?

AMG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m playin’ though. [We were] just like, “Well, I guess we gotta start all over.” But why now?

AMG: ‘Cause we can’t get real jobs. Where did the name Fixxers come from?

AMG: The name came from talking with [longtime manager] Greedy Greg about fixing music. What’s wrong with it?

AMG: Nothing’s really wrong with it, it is what it is we just wanna fix

our pockets and music is gonna help with that. And you know we’re a

production company also, so basically the record that we’re putting out

right now is setting up the sound to sell and ya know get our people

into a different groove. You got a lot of guys out here who won’t

change their sound and they don’t become important in the marketplace. What do you think defines you as an artist?

AMG: I don’t know, Rum and Coke. Do you have a drinking problem?

AMG: Uh…I have a liquor store problem. You are hilarious. So you feel like you guys are making better music together now?

AMG: It all works. That’s why as far as the concept to do it together

we just had to see it all the way out. The records we did together

always worked and everybody was always like, “When [are] y’all gonna

make a record together?” So we just did it. Does it bother you when people compare your success, or lack thereof, to Quik’s success as a solo artist?

AMG: It used to, but you know, I had to let it go because they don’t

understand the politics and how companies work. We were at different

companies and my company was s**ty. Things like that definitely fuel the friendship fires, though doesn’t it?

AMG: Well, we already know he’s a diva so we don’t have any problems.

[DJ Quik enters the room and the conversation.] AMG was keeping us entertained while you were finishing

up what you were doing. We spoke about the label politics that have

been a constant source of heartache for you, so how do you feel like

your new situation with Interscope will be better for you?

DJ Quik: First of all, we can’t keep placing blame on the other labels.

The truth is that I signed a deal that didn’t allow me to grow, back in

the ‘90s. Back then I signed with Profile Records and it was a real

limiting deal and I couldn’t get out of it cause it was a strong

structured New York style deal. It wasn’t anything we could do to get

any elbow room it was what it was but it was etched in stone and the

amount of money it would’ve cost me to fight them, they wouldn’t have

paid my royalties so it was a catch 22. Yeah, I think a lot of people are surprised to find out

all the politics involved in these deals going in as new artists.

DJ Quik: Those contracts came with the smell of a penis on them, and if

you didn’t pick up the scent, that motherf**ker came back to bite you

on the ass. That’s a visual analogy. [Laughs] Before you got here, I

asked AMG what was holding his career back and he said your perm…

DJ Quik: [Laughs] He’s a fool, alright. I’m gonna tie it up in some cornrows and put the do rag on it and put a hat on. It seems as though the chemistry is still there for you guys, why did you choose now to come back together?

DJ Quik: Because there’s music that we want to do now together as a

team. He’s got great ideas and I’ve got great ideas and no one’s being

Napoleon anymore. I got over the taking out my frustrations on the

people around me. I became an easier person to work with. I came to

them and asked, not on my hands and knees, but I came in a super

vulnerable position because we are not making any noise and we’re all

way below the radar. We’re in the Hip-Hop history books and before we

get old and grey and tired, can we do something monumental and I’m

willing to lend myself 100% so that we get the respect that we deserve.

It’s not like we’re on some ole Rodney Dangerfield stuff, but I think

that more props are due to us. I’m not bitter about not winning any

Grammy’s even though I have well more than 15 million records worth of

plaques on my wall. I just want my respect than I can move on to other

things. Do you feel like you’re gonna have to cross-over to ever achieve that?

DJ Quik: I wonder. At the end of the day, does it matter really?

DJ Quik: No, not really because I’m a stylist. I still have my style and now we’re selling something different. It always kills me to hear people talk about selling out

and crossing-over, but isn’t it the artists’ objective to sell music to

the masses and chart and all that?

DJ Quik: That’s the catch 22. We are in an industry that’s based on

double standards. I hate to be all political or smart ass about it, but

this industry is a double standard business. You can’t be rich and

famous, you have to be either or. My thing is yes we do plan on

involving more people in our music now because our music is more

accessible now. It’s not just underground misogynistic s**t anymore.

It’s not just shabby street talk that’s targeted at the n***a around

the next block, it’s really about us having a good time and sharing

that vibe with these records. What about the diehard Quik fans who might have a

problem with you branching out and maybe sounding more Southern on some

songs, compared to your original sound, does that matter?

DJ Quik: Yeah, it does, it matters a lot, actually. But in all honesty,

they should expect us to grow and to change because anything that stops

growing dies. Are you worried that you’ll lose your identity being a part of a duo?

DJ Quik: I don’t think I ever really had an identity. Anyways, all my

s**t was sample based, I pulled from Parliament, I pulled from James

Brown, I pulled from R&B groups like everyone else. My s**t is all

sample based. You still recognize a Quik track when you hear it…

DJ Quik: That’s probably because of the way we do EQ levels, but for

the most part I think the some of them might be a little disgruntled

initially to hear there are no Jazz interludes or no real heavy, heavy

instrumentations and guitar solos and no choppy acoustic piano; all

that’s out the window. We’re trying to go more simplistic with it more

streamline. The best analogy I can give is I’m trading in my big clunky

tub boat of a sound for a stream lined little speed boat. It’s still a

boat and I’m still the driver, I just want to go a little faster. How do you remain focused and stay true to who you are?

DJ Quik: I look at all the simple cool meaningful things in life. Like I raise Bonsai trees now. Why?

DJ Quik: Because they are a direct reflection of what’s going on in my

life. If my tree is happy, healthy, strong and growing, then I am. If

it starts getting dry and brittle and wilted, then that means it’s

being neglected, so it’s like the guage for me for how I’m doing in my

life. So when did this Quik develop?

DJ Quik: Right when I got out of jail! I was so upset with you when I heard you went to jail.

DJ Quik: Don’t be upset with me, be upset with my sisters, man. They’re

crack-heads now, and they won’t stop at anything to get some money, and

that’s unfortunate, and I hate that those are my sisters and I love ‘em

to death and I want to see them well; I gave them everything I had. I

tried to explain, I can’t just give you $5,000 for clothes or I can’t

get you this Infinity or whatever; I just can’t do it. So what’s next?

DJ Quik: We’re selling ourselves [and] our sound; it’s a dope, clean,

linear sound and it’s fun till the day’s end, and it’s bonafide. We

want to be able to produce some of our favorite people. I want to work

with Justin, Missy, Dre, Pharrell, Gwen, I want to work with some of

these people and the only way to do that is to give them something new

and funky, and that’s what we plan to do. Well I’m happy to see friends reunite and I wish you guys all the best…

DJ Quik: Yeah, I’m happy too. But it ain’t easy; I gotta wear a lot of

make up from all the black eyes I be getting from these n***as when

they think I start getting on that Hollywood s**t again. [Laughs]