Spell My Name Right: The Album
Never heard of Statik Selektah? Well get familiar. Matter of fact, shame on you for not knowing this man. Responsible for the mixtape of the year, Royce Da 5'9"s The Bar Exam (sorry kiddies, G-Unit Radio and Da Drought doesn't cut it), Statik is back in a big way. This time, it's an album of his own - and what a lineup: Termanology, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli, Kool G Rap, Royce, KRS-One. Excited yet? That's just the tip of the iceberg.
The most striking thing about Spell My Name Right is how laid back it is. I mean, when you have dudes like M.O.P., Cormega and The Lox on an album, "laid back" isn't what comes to mind. Maybe that's what makes this album so interesting - how rap vets and newcomers known primarily for rhyming over gritty beats make the transition to a more relaxed sound.
The album kicks off with a co-sign from DJ Primier on the intro. Termanology joins Primo on the track, and really sets the tone for the album. Term carries on into the next track, and is paired with Styles P and Q-Tip in the jazzy Stop, Look, Listen. All three emcees ride the beat almost flawlessly, with Q-Tip providing some quotables early on: "These dudes are like toddlers, who cry and whine regardless/Of all the toys they've acquired since they've become artists/Now stop, look and listen - this is your pop's edition/So I advise you be wise and take in this rendition/Now stop the episode, before you get exposed"
Term goes in for the third track - Express Yourself - as well, this time with Talib Kweli and Consequence. Kweli's killin' it these days, so it's no surprise he outshines his fellow emcees on this joint. Next up are Joell Ortiz, Kool G Rap and Sheek, who absolutely murder 6 In The Morning. Other dope tracks include AZ and Cormega's No Holding Back and Slum Village and Granite State's homage to hip hop, Got Me Goin' (Hip Hop). The album's best track comes at the end. Did What He Had To Do, as an invigorated KRS-One, Large Professor and L Da Headtoucha truly craft a gem.
Spell My Name, while littered with dope tracks, isn't flawless. While many heads would be excited to see Freeway and Cassidy on the same song after their famous battle, What Would You Do!? ends up being far less engaging than most of the other cuts on the album. It's not a bad song by any means, but by comparison it falls in the sub-par category. Punch Out features an ill Nintendo sample, but doesn't fit whatsoever. Another misstep is the baffling inclusion of a DJ Khaled interview. Ironically enough, another interlude features Clinton Sparks going on about how unoriginal and fucking lame DJs these days are. Food for thought, Khaled?.
The complaints on Spell My Name Right are minimal. Most compilation albums like this suffer from a complete lack of cohesiveness, but Statik Selektah does a great job of providing a proper musical backdrop. The beats are varied and interesting, but manage to maintain a relaxed atmosphere consistent throughout. And what to say of the emcees? It's a rarity to find an all-star cast like this on any album, particularly these days. Spell My Name Right has the distinction of being one of the very few hip hop compilation albums that works as well in practice as it looks on paper, making it definitely worth your while.