The rock 'n' roll equivalent of the Great American Saga has always been the road song, a weary, picaresque narrative that stretches from Woody Guthrie through to Metallica. DJ Quik adds a certain existential twist to the tradition: Everywhere he goes, he sees . . . Compton, or at least the smoking detritus of gangsta-rap's cultural hegemony. It's sort of a chilling vision, if one that's easy to dance to.
As the N.W.A. crew spent more time this year in the dockets than in the pages of Billboard and the Tone-Loc/Young M.C. thing slouched into obsolescence, young Comptonian DJ Quik quietly became one of the most influential rappers in the country, with satin-smooth beats, a platinum debut, a well-regarded posse of accomplished rappers--AMG, Hi-C, Penthouse Players, 2d II None--and high cheekbones that make the teen-age girls swoon.
"Way 2 Fonky" is a great-sounding rap record, with a giant, Jeep-worthy bottom and high, articulated, almost reggae-inflected rhyming. His lyrics celebrate the fun side of the mythical Compton experience where N.W.A.'s dwell on what could go wrong; his sleek, '70s-soul-style grooves, which he produces himself, swing, well . . . way fonky. And though he's easily as obscene as any of his peers, he seems actually to like women.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four (excellent).