Heavyweight DJ and producer Statik Selektah has released his latest full-length collection of solo material, the paradoxically-titled Extended Play. The Boston native’s first studio album since 2011’sPopulation Control, the 18-track project comes complete with Booth-featured cuts “Bird’s Eye View,” “21 & Over” and “Funeral Season.”
Statik produces all beats on the album, except on “Live From the Era,” which is co-produced by The Alchemist. Mic work throughout the LP comes courtesy of Action Bronson, Black Thought, Bun B, Evidence, Freddie Gibbs,Joey BadA$$, Mac Miller, Raekwon, REKS, Talib Kweli, Termanology, Wais P and many more
Ever tried going to a highly anticipated movie the night it opens, only to find out it is sold out? Undoubtedly you will see another movie and who knows, you might even like that movie better than the main attraction. Welcome to Statik Slektah’s Extended Play. With June 18, right around the corner, projects from Mac Miller, J. Cole, and Kanye will undoubtedly garner much attention, but it is Statik’s fifth studio album which will likely still be standing when the dust settles.
Now I haven’t heard all the aforementioned other albums, I have only heard Statik’s, but the depth and execution of this album will give the underground hip-hop community the consistent quality they seek that might not be readily available with major label artists. For those not familiar with Statik (although you have undoubtedly heard one of his beats) allow me to provide a brief snapshot. The New England producer is well-respected within the hip-hop community and has produced for DJBooth favorites like Freddie Gibbs, Action Bronson and, most recently, Jared Evan. His endless list of connections is on full display on Extended Play. The guest list on the album is essentially a who’s who of the hip-hop game. Statik squeezes in verses from veterans like Black Thought, Lil Fame of M.O.P, and Talib Kweli with input from newcomers like Bronson and Joey Bada$$ too. The features even extend beyond underground favorite emcees with cuts like The Spark, hosting the velvety vocals ofMike Posner and Funeral Season which features Southern trailblazer Bun B with G.O.O.D Music/ Interscoperapper/producer Hit-Boy; even his competition, Mac Miller, stops by for a verse on 21 & Over. There is not a single moment when his feature selection makes your raise an eyebrow; each song is well constructed and perfect for whichever emcee steps up to the mic.
When you look at the laundry list of features, spanning all coasts and styles, you can really see where Statik shines. His ability to create unique productions for the different, unique styles of each guest emcee is really the strength of the project. It becomes even more impressive when some of these very different emcees share the same production without missing a beat (pun intended). Take one of the stronger cuts off Extended Play, My Hoe. Atop a crackling, vintage boom-bap beat Evidence, Blu and REKS, three emcees with distinct styles, each sound like the beat was made custom for them. On The Spark, the against the grain approach of Bronson and Bad$$ is softened by the jazzy, soulful instrumental, which also hosts a chorus and outro from Posner. While some producers would struggle to fuse two brash styles with Posner’s cushiony vibe, Statik’s mastery of the boards makes the combination deadly. He doesn’t need big production effects or smoke and mirrors to weave the styles; it sounds so natural just the way it is. From grimy, street friendly boardwork to trademark boom-bap beats, Statik can do it all.
With the star-studded ensemble Selektah could have easily let the emcees do the work, but that just wouldn’t be him. Between perfectly composed samples and authentic scratching, Statik ensures his work will share and even take the spotlight away from some powerful vets. Bird’s Eye View features Bada$$, as well as two hardened emcees in Raekwon and Black Thought. While the two veterans unsurprisingly shine, their flows really ring out thanks to the sped up, soulful vocal sample behind them. Without the sample powering the cut, I don’t know if the two features would have the same effect.
While you will find no complaints from us about the feature selections, the amount of them makes this feel more like a compilation mixtape than an album. I would have loved to hear some solo instrumentals where Statik really toyed with his sound and flexed his musical muscles. There isn’t much deviation from the winning formula. Each cut follows the same structure and I thought a few standalone beats would have helped to pace the album and prevent the songs from running together. I know Statik can make a beat for any emcee who is lucky enough to get one, but I want to hear what he can do when it is just him behind the boards. The album has great replay-ability, but there is no real overarching structure or progression; it is consistent almost to a fault.
Still, come June 18, will Statik outsell the others? I don’t think so. I am rooting for him, but I just don’t see an indie release competing with the most popular emcee in the world, but to focus on sales numbers is to completely miss the point. Statik might not win the sprint, and isn’t really even running the same race, but Extended Play is definitely prepared for the marathon. You could pick this album up 5-10 years from now and it would have the same power as the day it came out. While the others might boast numbers and dominate the discussion in the next few months, it might very well be Statik’s album we are revisiting soon enough.
DJBooth Rating – 4 Spins