Statik Selektah – Population Control [Review]

The title for the hardest working producer in the game cold easily go to Statik Selektah. Besides growing his own label ShowOff Records, Statik have never been shy to put in work elsewhere. Example: Besides this project, he has already released two projects this year alone; one with Freddie Gibbs and the other with Freeway (With three more still scheduled with Action Bronson, Bumpy Knuckles, & Termanology for 2011).

For Population Control, Statik’s forth full compilation, the concept was to put his stamp on artists that he liked. Statik explained it better in an interview with HipHopDX:

Everybody thinks they’re a rapper, everybody thinks they’re a deejay, producer or whatever, and Population Control is just me saying like, ‘Listen, in our world this is who gets the co-sign.’ My opinion speaks for a lot of other people as well, like deejays and cats that been doing this for a long time. And it’s like, there’s got to be a filter.

So with new backing from Duck Down Music, Statik Selektah brings Population Control to the masses.

1. Population Control
Featuring Sean Price & Termanology; Produced by Statik Selektah
For the album opener Statik Selektah gets Sean Legend & Termanology to set things off. Being a big fan, I immediately knew the beat chosen here would fit with Price’s style:

Shit, I am a very mean rapper
Shot the club up and I am never seen after
Master rap. Rap master
Chastise rappers then bury the black bastard
I pop the ‘8 at ya hoe
Sean Price Population Control

Termanology comes in second and does his thing too even though his lines about Craig Mack & Jamiroquai seem dated. Dope sample here too (One that I can’t place right now). Short and simple leads to a good start.

2. Play the Game
Featuring Big K.R.I.T. & Freddie Gibbs; Produced by Statik Selektah
I don’t know if this is the first pairing of Big K.R.I.T. & Freddie Gibbs on a song but if so, good job to Statik. More props also go to him because the mellow production here shows his versatility. K.R.I.T handles the first & last verse while Gibbs does the middle verse with both doing good on the subject of playing to win in the game of life. I remember seeing a video with K.R.I.T., Gibbs, & Statik Selektah talking about this song and it seems like they had fun making it. So far so good.

3. Groupie Love
Featuring Mac Miller & Josh Xantus; Produced by Statik Selektah
There have been a lot of songs titled or talking about groupie love and as far as those songs go this is pretty good. Mac has worked a few times with Statik in the past and it seems like they have a chemistry. The hook, provided by Josh Xantus, could have been better and it brought down the song. Still not a bad track at all . I’m noticing that Statik uses a lot of piano anchoring his production but here at the end of this track he add some electric guitar to mix stuff up.

4. New York, New York
Featuring Styles P, Saigon, & Jared Evan; Produced by Statik Selektah
You’d think they would have thought of a more original title for this one seeing that it has been a thousands songs titled after the city that never sleeps, but that’s besides the point right? Actually, Statik gets the feeling of NY here by not only getting two native rappers to spit about their city, but also by sampling a trumpet all through the song. Why that makes it feel like New York I don’t know but it works. Interesting note: Supposedly this was originally Nas’ song.

5. Sam Jack
Featuring XV, Jon Connor, & The Kid Daytona; Produced by Statik Selektah
Statik fills the lineup with new jacks on this one (Pun intended?). The title may have tipped you off, but the song utilizes things connected to Samuel L. Jackson acting career be it famous lines or movies (“They deserve to die and I hope they burn in hell!”). XV & Jon Connor get into the act using the lines and what not from the actor with The Kid Daytona just spitting a straight verse. The horn heavy beat matches the feeling and goes right with the subject matter. Nothing great here but a solid album track.

6. Never A Dull Moment
Featuring Action Bronson, Termanology, & Bun B; Produced by Statik Selektah
The piano sample here is ridiculous. It sets up the whole track and immediately make this one of the best tracks off the album (Honestly, anyone would sound dope over this). I know Action Bronson gets a lotta flack for sounding like Ghostface Killah or being stuck in the 90’s but that’s what I like about him. He starts off the track right:

Up in the hospity, know my philosophy
Smoked duck, power meetings at the Brasserie
Lose your posture, fuckin’ with the doctor
Decker injector, livin’ off the nectar
The fruits of life I got the sweet tooth
Young Sweet Jones, champagne Caddy with the green roof
Trunk slammed down, ’85 Biarritz
Lungs are filled with earth, play the Garden like the Knicks

Action raps first and handles hook duties (“We some Dons like Hathaway”) with Termanology going second and the Bun pulling up the rear. Good performances from all involved here make this one to check for.

7. You’re Gone
Featuring Talib Kweli, Colin Munroe, & Lil Fame; Produced by Statik Selektah
More tips of the hat to Statik for showing his production range again; the bass line here sounds like something Havoc would produce. Talib Kweli handles the first 2 verses with Colin Monroe on the chorus and so far, the song is turing out good. But then Lil’ Fame comes on towards the end, the beat changes and the songs picks up even more (It sounds like they sampled “Long Red” by Mountain). Pretty good stuff.

8. They Don’t Know
Featuring Pill & Reks; Produced by Statik Selektah
I was excited to see what Statik has for Rek & Pill, then I hear the reggae inspired beat and I’m not longer excited. With these two talented rappers, I would have preferred something more fitted to their styles. You may wanna check this one out for yourself but for me, this is a skip.

9. Down
Featuring PUSH! Montana, LEP Bogus Boys, & Ea$y Money; Produced by Statik Selektah
The cool thing about this is that “Down: is the most gangsta song on the album but Statik makes good uses a inspirational sample. It terms of gutta lyrics, the song has many in abundance but since it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, the beat is probably the standout on this track. Still a worth a listen.

10. Let’s Build
Featuring Chace Infinite, JFK, Mitchy Slick, & Wais P; Produced by Statik Selektah
Statik uses heavy drums here to be the back bone to this production, adds a horn loop, and makes another stand out beat on the album. The rappers featured do serviceable verses about building better lives but business picks up with veteran Wais P’s starts. The beat changes (Think of old school break beats like Whodini’s “Friends”) and another whole level is added to the song.

11. Smoke On
Featuring Dom Kennedy & Strong Arm Steady; Produced by Statik Selektah
The West is in the house as Dom Kennedy & Strong Arm Steady show up to mellow up the pace. At first I couldn’t place the sample used here, but I finally figure out it was Irene Reid’s “Didn’t We” (You may remember Kanye West used the same sample for Lil’ Kim’s “Came Back for You”). Maybe this one was too mellow because it felt like it didn’t really go anywhere. I could picture people smoking out to this one though.

12. The High Life
Featuring Kali, GameBoi, & Chris Webby; Produced by Statik Selektah
Statik once again shows love to the newcomers as he gets three young guns to rap about the good life (Literally. If I’m not mistaken, GameBoi is only 15). The start of this song throws you off because it has this frantic piano that it never uses again for the rest of the song. The lyrics are kinda generic and make this sound like album filler.

13. Half Moon Part
Featuring Skyzoo, Chuuwee, & Tayyib Ali; Produced by Statik Selektah
This is another that doesn’t really stand out. Maybe it’s the sequencing or the song that preceded it but it just does. I’ve always liked Skyzoo. But here, as well as the rest of the rappers featured, the results come out boring. This is another that could have been left off; not bad but just not really adding anything to the album. Kinda sad because I hear somethings in the beat that could have been brought out more; it almost sounds like it uses a Michael Jackson sample (It doesn’t).

14. Black Swan
Featuring Nitty Scott MC & Rapsody; Produced by Statik Selektah
Okay, let me be clear: I’m happy to see the female MC’s being represented on the album. You may remember Nitty Scott for being in one of this year’s BET Hip Hop Awards cypher. Rapsody is signed to 9th Wonder’s It’s A Wonderful World Music Group. But here’s the problem, I never really was a fan of either of these rappers and the reasons are spotlighted here. I think Nitty Scott MC needs to mature and grow as a rapper while Rapsody’s flow is still very one dimensional. Statik tries to help with the beat, but it’s not enough.

15. Harlem Blues
Featuring Smoke DZA; Produced by Statik Selektah
For one of the very scarce solo songs on the album, Statik Selektah gets Harlem’s own Kush God. The production reminds me of DJ Premier especially with the scratches in the hook. The song hangs on Smoke DZA’s lyrics & charisma and he has a few lines here and there (“You playing yourself like Leon”). It kinda works.

16. Gold In 3D
Featuring STS & Dosage; Produced by Statik Selektah
Since I checked STS’s mixtape a few months back, I know that work “gold” is kinda like his mantra. The only thing I know about Dosage os he’s also from Philly. Love the horns used on the production here and both STS & Dosage do there thing in terms of lyrics. Not crazy but solid.

17. Damn Right
Featuring Joell Ortiz & Brother Ali; Produced by Statik Selektah
Seeing that both Brother Ali & Ortiz are super talented rappers, I’m wondering why this track got stuck on track 17. Both rappers are talented at telling detailed stores about the poverty and it shows here over somber production. Joell handles most of the works while Ali does the spoken word intro and a few bars towards the end. One thing to notice here is that Joell quotes The Notorious B.I.G. on the hook (“Damn right I like the life I live/’Cause I went from negative to positive”). This is probably due to a sample issue. Deep song.

18. Live & Let Live
Featuring Lecrae; Produced by Statik Selektah
Out of all the songs on the album, this one may be the most interesting. For those that know Lecrae is a Christian rapper and while he already caught a buzz being featured in a cypher on this year’s BET Hip Hop Awards, in the future this may be a song looked at as really furthering his career. The great thing here is that Lecrae doesn’t stuff the word of God done anyone’s throat; he’s just telling a real story. He message is still there but what really comes out is that he’s a talented rapper. Statik has been really supportive of Lecrae and continues so by really giving him a well produced, even Kanye-like, beat. A stand out on the album.

19. A DJ Saved My Life
Featuring DJ Premier, DJ Babu, Scram Jones, & DJ Craze; Produced by Statik Selektah
For the closer of Population Control, Statik Selektah gathers some of his turntable comrades and shows love to the DJ. DJ Premier starts out by going down a list of the DJ’s that inspired him. Then the DJ’s involved do their thing in terms of scratching (Can’t place the sample at the moment). Then surprisingly, around the 3:30 mark, Statik Selektah raps. And you know what? He doesn’t sound half bad. He talks about his story and how he came up in the Hip-Hop game and ends the album on a nice note.

Bottom Line:
Statik Selektah recently held a Population Control special on Shade 45 that featured a lot of artists on the album, and it helps explain the feeling of this project. Here’s the video:

Even though the making of this album was a big collaborative effort, the feeling comes across like it was all love and respect with the artists involved. Plus you get a lot for your money seeing that you get a lotta music for you money.

While that’s a great thing to see, it sometimes felt like that was a drawback to Population Control. Yes, this is a compilation by a producer so the many guest features should be expected. But did we really need 20 tracks? I understand Statik wanting to get all his people on this one but a few unneeded tracks cut here or there would’ve have help a lot with the sequencing. While it’s many great highlights on Population Control, the album also had some spots that could come off boring.

Even still, the star of this album is Statik Selektah’s production and seeing him grow and stretch his talents behind the boards. The fact that he used a lot of live instrumentation here while accommodating 40+ artists is a feat not many could handle. To me, this is his best outing of all his albums. We can only wait to see what Statik Selektah will show off next.