31 August, 2014@11:32 am
A large part of what defined the “golden era” (1987-1994) sound of hip-hop music is the complete freedom to use any sample you wished, without repercussion. Let’s back that up – it wasn’t actually “freedom” – people just didn’t realize it was happening. That all changed when Biz Markie needed a haircut.
Statik Selektah is a well known DJ in the hip-hop world, thanks to his show on Eminem’s Shade 45 satellite radio station. However unlike some of his other DJ peers that release albums – i.e. DJ Khaled, Funkmaster Flex, etc – Statik is also a producer. And a very dope producer, as he has proven over the last decade, with a series of albums that spotlight that production, and via his record label, Showoff Records.
With What Goes Around, Statik has released arguably his greatest album yet, with a remarkably consistent 20-track playlist, featuring a who’s who of lyrical and underground hip-hop, and jazz sampled (or is that replayed?) production that gives it that unmistakable golden era sound.
The best way to listen to Stat’s album is to simply let it play, blind to the tracklisting or guest artist list. It’s kind of like watching a movie without spoilers, and makes the listening experience all the better. However as we’ve seen in the past, a strong guest list does not make a solid album; what really guarantees that here is Statik’s beats.
Starting off with Lil Fame of M.O.P. sets the stage perfectly, as he shares the title track with Showoff emcee Ea$y Money. This leads into the high-powered collaboration “Carry On” between Freddie Gibbs and Joey Bada$$, followed by “The Thrill Is Back” with Styles P and Talib Kweli. “The Thrill Is Back” makes a convincing argument that hip-hop is alive and well, as The Ghost builds off an old Biggie line regarding the current state of hip-hop: “The thrill is gone, I think it’s coming back / 40 belows, bubble coats, and a lot of struggle rap”. Statik’s gorgeous production here, and throughout the rest of the album, easily backs that theory up.
By this time, the album has really begun to hit its stride, which really doesn’t let up for the remainder of the record. High powered collaborations like “The Imperial” find each Action Bronson, Black Thought, and Royce Da 5’9 competing for the top spot, as does “Alarm Clock” with Ab-Soul, Jon Connor, and Logic. Heavy doses of precise cuts and well chosen samples keeps the album flowing at an incredible pace.
As a DJ, Statik has put this album’s tracklist together extremely well, knowing when and where to place the bangers and when to pull back with some deeper cuts. When songs like “My Time” (feat. Black Dave, CJ Fly, Nyck Caution & Josh Xantus) and “Fugazi” (feat. Sincere) come in, featuring lesser-known names, your attention is kept because of how well the whole thing is paced and programmed. It also helps because the production is strong and the emcees are dope.
What Goes Around is the antithesis of DJ Mustard’s 10 Summers, but is equally important. While Mustard has revolutionized commercial hip-hop and helped resurrect the West, Statik’s album has breathed life into the underground and brought back the golden era sound. Real hip-hop will never die, as Statik proves “what goes around comes back around again.”
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