Boston-born New York-based boom bap producer extraordinaire Statik Selektah took some time off to talk to us about The Pre-Game EP, his album 100 Proof (The Hangover), and the 5,000 other projects he’s working on.
Statik talks about his album’s dark sound, his record collection, and his upcoming single with Wale, Bun B, and Colin Munroe.
ML: Why did you decide to release an EP in advance of the album?
Statik: Originally, the album was supposed to come out in November and it got pushed back to February. I just really wanted to get something out this year for everyone’s that’s been waiting for it. So I took a couple songs off the album and did a couple new songs and came up with an EP so there’s something out at Christmas time.
ML: Why was the album delayed?
Statik: ‘Cause of the bullshit that goes on in this industry. There’s all these new processes with all this digital shit now where like certain distributors can’t get it in time. The way retail is now, there’s so much music being distributed that if you put out CDs on certain days, like, Best Buy won’t take it. There’s so much politics in it. And basically February 2 was the first date I could have that I knew my project was gonna get pushed the right way. ‘Cause, we could’ve put it out this year, but it would’ve got swept under the rug with everything coming out. Retail wasn’t gonna support it the way I need it to.
ML: The features on the EP are more underground than your albums. Was that a conscious decision?
Statik: It wasn’t a conscious decision really, it was just those were the records that I felt didn’t match the rest of the actual album, so I took them off the album and made the EP. The EP doesn’t have a consistent theme to it and the album does. It was really based on the vibe of the songs.
ML: That was actually my next question. Your albums are usually a cut above the other producer albums because they maintain the cohesion of a real album. How do you do that with an EP? Or do you even bother doing that with an EP?
Statik: Nah, there’s no theme or anything to the EP. It’s just records that I had that were done for the 100 Proof album. They basically didn’t make the cut for whatever reason. But I mean, I like the records, it’s just there’s no consistency to the EP. The vibe goes up and down. There’s a fast record with Jon Hope and Novel and there’s like the slow hood records like “Different Day Same Shit.” The album has a real real dark vibe and it’s real consistent and a lot more solid as far as the theme.
ML: You did an interview with Semtex in March where you said in ‘09, you were focusing on production. What have you produced this year and what are you especially proud of?
Staitk: As far as stuff that’s out now, I’m on the new O.C. and A.G. album [“Oasis”], I’m on M.O.P.’s album twice [“Crazy” and “Forever & Always”], I’m on Term’s new project Time Machine twice [“Nobody’s Smiling” and “It’s a Shame”]. Let me think what’s out. The Tek album comes out next week. I’m on Tek from Smif-N-Wessun’s album [“Toast to the Good Life”]. As far as what’s about to come out, I’m on Joell Ortiz’ album, I’m on Consequence’s album, Styles P’s album. I mean, when I said that to Semtex I just meant I wanna be like – the way you used to see Pete Rock and Premo and you expected it when you bought a real grimy hip-hop album – I want it to be that way. I wanna be on everything.
ML: Last year you told HipHopDX you were working with a supergroup with Consequence, Paula Campbell, and Rik Cordero. What’s the status of that?
Statik: We’ve got a couple records done, but we’ve only put out one actual record to the public and that was the theme to Rik’s movie Inside the Change, which actually won the award at the HBO Latino Film Festival, so that got a lot of exposure. But we got a couple records done and that’s the next thing. I think me and Cons were just caught up finishing our albums. Consequence just finished up his album, it’s real crazy. And then we’re gonna start that project, but it’s real real dope concept because you’ve got Cons who’s crazy with the rhymes; and then Paula, she’s one of the illest singers; Rik’s gonna be doing videos for almost every song; and then I’ll do what I do on the beats. It’s gonna be like a hip-hop Lucy Pearl.
ML: How deep is your record collection?
Statik: It’s a lot. It’s a lot less than it was. When I moved from the Bronx to Brooklyn, I got rid of a lot of maybe half my record collection, ‘cause it was right around the time my Serato collection got real serious. I basically threw out every record I don’t personally like, like all the club shit. Like if I had Trick Daddy records or Nelly records and all that shit. I’m not a personal fan of that shit, so I don’t keep it. I have them because of needing them to rock parties and all that, but every record that I felt that hurt my record collection I got rid of, so now if you go through my record collection, it’s straight dope rare shit, 90s shit, there’s some new shit but not much. If you go through my record collection now, I feel comfortable playing any record you pull out. It’s a couple thousand right now. I got rid of a lot of records. Sold a lot too.
ML: Are there any really crazy samples on the EP or the album?
Statik: I pretty much take pride in that most of the shit I sample, a lot of people can’t find. It might be one or two that people will find, but a lot of it is real real rare. I had a chance to dig a lot when I was on tour with Q-Tip. We were out in Australia, we were in Melbourne, and I got some real crazy records, so I don’t think anyone’s gonna be pulling my card on these samples. Maybe a couple, but the majority — Even on my other albums, the majority of them are pretty rare in the way I chop and shit, but this album is like ultra – I’ve been sampling a lot of different kinds of music. A lot of stuff on this album isn’t necessarily soul and funk, it’s like progressive rock and psych rock, or all kinds of different shit.
ML: Some website found the sample for one of the songs with Termanology off your last album. It was something really weird and obscure.
Statik: Oh it was probably the record “Church.” I think I saw that on a website where they found the sample. It happens.
But I went in on this album. I got some real real crazy records. When big records heads come to my house, they see them and they’ve never even heard of them.
I mean, I’m not gonna front. I’m not the illest record collector. I don’t go digging every week. I get my samples from all kinds of sources. I got kids all over the world who send me shit. I’m more about the actual music and the way that I flip it and use it in creating records. I’m not gonna front like I’m this big record-head. I know my shit and if I see a records somewhere, I know what it is and I know who sampled it and I know where the drums are from. I have a music library in my head, but I don’t necessarily own all those samples.
ML: Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you’re trying to work with?
Statik: Honestly, everybody I haven’t worked with I wanna work with. I’m all about working with whoever as long as the music’s good. I’d like to expand and work with people that other people might not expect me to work with as far as them making a certain kind of music. I’d like to bring them into my sounds and experiment or whatever. Off the top of my head, I’d love to work with Drake, I’d love to work with Jay Electronica, obviously Jay-Z, the kid Yelawolf’s real dope, I like the kid Freddie Gibbs, the kid Pill. I’ve been finding a lot of new music and new artists lately that I’ve been actually supporting. There’s a lot of kids that are considered the freshmen now that the industry sweats that I’m not really feeling. So it’s dope that there’s cats like Yelawolf and Freddie Gibbs and dudes like that that I can be a fan of and play their music on my show and all that, because for a long time there wasn’t. I’m not gonna name anybody, but even on the XXL freshmen list, I don’t mess with a lot of those dudes.
ML: You said you’re trying to go for a dark vibe. What does that mean? Can you explain the sound of the album?
Staitk: I was going through such a transition in my life personally that a lot of the music was darker when I was making it. Originally the name of the name of the album was The Hangover and now it’s 100 Proof (The Hangover). It was supposed to be a reality check. Everybody’s partying and bullshitting and lying about what they got and being irresponsible with their lives. I was just a point where, on a personal level, I just broke up with my fiancée. There was just a lot of shit going on and there’s just a lot of dark themes on the album. It’s a real record where you can listen to it and relate with everything. There’s nothing crazy on it. No ones talking about blowing up fuckin’ schools and fuckin’ strip clubs and all that shit. It’s a real real record. Even though that’s the other side of my life. I’m out partying, popping bottles, going to strip clubs and all shit, but this project, I wanted it to represent that stage of my life. But that was like eight months ago, so now, my next album is probably gonna be party records for all I know. I don’t even know. The 1982 has a lot of upbeat shit. I’m definitely in a more positive zone right now. I think this year was just a dark year. Losing a lot of people that meant a lot to me. A lot of people went through it this year, so I think it’s a good album that represents 2009.
I definitely wouldn’t compare it to any DJ/producer album that’s ever come out ever. It’s way more personal. There’s records on there that rappers literally talking what I would say if I was on the record. There’s a record called “Walkin’ Away” with Kali and Novel that’s just a real personal record about relationships. There’s records with Lil Fame about punching a hole through your body. The single I’m gonna leak in January is Bun B and Wale and Colin Munroe’s on the hook and it’s a real serious record. But it’s a radio record. It’s real catchy and all that, but I think it’s a positive record to start off the new year with.
ML: I need a status update on some projects. Where’s 1982?
Statik: 1982 is about 75% done. The shit is incredible. I haven’t even been talking about because I’ve been promoting these albums, but it’s probably coming out at the beginning of April. It’s me and Term’s Gangstarr. The shit is real dope. We’ve got radio records, we’ve got grimy grimy grimy records, we’ve got records about girls, we’ve got record drugs, we’ve got records about whatever. It’s a unique album. I think it touches every basis. The rhymes are crazy. I gave Term the best shit I had. I can’t wait til people hear that.
ML: You once said you have a project with Wale. What’s that about?
Statik: We were on tour in Australia together when I was with Q-Tip and we talked about doing a little project, but I think that’s on the backburner right now. But Wale is on my album and I definitely look forward to working with him again. Both of us are just all over the place. I’m sure that’s still gonna happen. It’s just a matter of getting it together.
ML: Last but not least, you have an album with Bahamadia?
Statik: Yeah, that’s gonna be real dope. I’ve actually never even met her. Her DJ was at my house one night with Mr. Lif, Lif’s an old friend from Boston, he was just there kicking it. I was like, ‘I would love to work with Bahamadia.’ I was a huge Bahamadia fan. She’s definitely my favorite female MC of all time. Her first album Kollage – you don’t even know. I got caught in the mall stealing that album when I was like 13. That’s one of my favorite albums. So anyway, I was like, ‘Yeah, I wanna work with her’ and he was like, ‘Send her a record.’ So I sent her the beat and she did that joint that’s on the EP called “Do What I Believe.” She hit me back a little while later like, ‘You know what? Let’s just do a whole album.’ I was like, ‘Let’s go.’ So that’s good to go, I already started sending her beats and all that.