Artist: Statik Selektah
Album: Population Control
Label: Showoff Records/Duck Down
A couple months ago I compared DJ Khaled’s latest album to the NFL’s pro bowl, a place where the game’s brightest stars come together and shine as a whole. Well Statik Selektah’s latest album is more like the late NBA’s rookie sophomore game, a place where the game’s most talented up and coming participants come together to showcase their potential. Quite contrary from his previous body of work 100 Proof (The Hangover), which if I continue with the sports analogies had the roster of a hall of fame ballot, Population Control features a wide variety of fresh MCs that have yet to see their prime. With the exception of a handful of veterans/frequent Statik collaborators like Termanology, Bun B, Styles P and Lil Fame, the majority of Population Control consists of cats fairly new to the game like Action Bronson, Chuuwee, Jon Conner, Chris Webby, Mac Miller, Smoke DZA, STS and Big K.R.I.T. A lot of these young guns definitely do their thing on Population Control, but a few of them have a thing or two to learn before they can lace Statik with the bars needed to bring the Boston bred DJ/producers boom bap beats to life.
There’s one thing that is always evident on every Statik Selektah project, and that is his love and appreciation for the culture of hip hop. His no gimmick production style on songs like “Sam Jack” and “Play The Game” preserve the roots of the art form by allowing listeners to really pay attention to what is being said, and the message that is being conveyed all while still enjoying the beat. Perhaps the best example of this on Population Control is the track “Damn Right” featuring Joell Ortiz and Brother Ali. Lyrically “Damn Right” is to Population Control what “So Close So Far” was to 100 Proof (The Hangover), a conscious cut that defines the struggle through a series of relatable lyrics. The unique combination of Brother Ali’s street preacher flow and Joel Ortiz’s gritty rhymes works remarkably well and makes “Damn Right” arguably the best joint on the album.
However, there are a few other unexpected collaborations on the album, that aren’t quite as successful. The first that comes to mind is “They Don’t Know”. “They Don’t Know” features the unlikely alliance of Maybach Music’s Pill and Statiks fellow Showoff representative Reks spitting over a reggae style beat that is even more puzzling than the fact that Pill and Reks are on a track together. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m all for Statik putting an underground Boston favorite like Reks on a joint with a more mainstream artist like Pill…just as long as the results are hot. Can’t say that that’s the case with “They Don’t Know”. The so called smoker’s song off the album “Smoke On” also featured a disappointing group effort. I got high off seeing Dom Kennedy’s name listed next to The SAS Gang on “Smoke On” but after listening to this lethargic a$$ joint I just feel burnt out.
Speaking of smoking, Statik links up with Smoke DZA on one of Population Control’s standout tracks “Harlem Nights”. There’s no better title for this song than “Harlem Nights” as the samples Statik chooses to use for this one are jazzily nocturnal. Mix that with above par lyrics from the Kushedgod like “Bet against DZA, you’ll be in more debt than the U.S.” and boom you feel like you just spent the night in Harlem.
Other noteworthy tracks include the title track “Population Control“, “You’re Gone” and “Never A Dull Moment” which despite a repetitive (yet catchy) piano loop beat, doesn’t include any dull moments thanks to an extraordinary performance from Action Bronson. Bronsolino (as he calls himself on the track) holds his own against hip hop heavyweights Bun B and Termanology with a strong opening verse and the chemistry he displays over Statik’s production is bound to get listeners hyped for that Well Done record the two are dropping this November.
On the contrary, there are a couple monotonous songs on Population Control that wouldn’t hurt you to skip. If you’re not a female or crazy about Mac Miller (did I just repeat myself?) than there’s really no reason for you to listen to “Groupie Love” and “The High Life” featuring Mac Miller clones Gameboi and Chris Webby pretty much defines the word generic as it pertains to rap music. Nitty Scott MC and Rhapsody hold it down for the females on the track “Black Swan” but it’s impossible for me to ignore the fact that Statik flipped a sample of Vigrass & Osborne’s “Ballerina” the same exact way Kno did on the Cunninlynguists song “Dance For Me” pretty much creating a replica of one of the finest tracks off Dirty Acres. However this is an issue that is only relevant if you happen to be a Cunninlynguists fan. The rest of you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.
After going through all twenty tracks, it is safe to say that Population Control is an average album, with a handful of above average cuts. While the youthful lineup Statik enlisted for this one definitely displays a lot of potential, as of right now many of these upcoming MC’s lack the poise and experience necessary to help deliver a project as good as 100 Proof (The Hangover). But keep your eye out for a lot of these kids, in three or four years from now when some of them are on MTV and BET remember you heard them rocking with Statik first!