Statik Selektah: New Old Stock
Now with debut album Spell My Name Right, Statik takes his diverse tastes and blends them together for 21 tracks of unique collaborations, high and low profile emcees and hard-knocking beats from the mixtape mastermind. With 12,000 units shipping, Statik Selektah is putting up impressive numbers as the album drops. He tells HipHopDX about his Hip Hop history research, transitioning into production and the methodology to his tape-rewinding collaborations.
HipHopDX: What let you know that now was the time to test the waters as far as an album goes?
Statik Selektah: Really, the mixtape game is messed up. Whenever I do mixtapes, I try to make them like albums anyway. I think Im just gonna keep doing albums instead of mixtapes. I still get to work with artists really close actually closer than ever. Plus, its the same concept, just making real records. These are 100% real records as opposed to something being a blend.
DX: How do you work an album differently though? Youre going through official distribution channels now.
SS: Its a lot different. I have a distribution deal through Traffic. They handle pretty much the pressing. We shipped 12,000. Thats really good for an independent release. Im not really sweating Soundscan at all, cause I know Im moving a lot of units overseas. Even over here, a lot of the mixtape spots are gonna be bootlegging it. The internet downloads are crazy. Ive been on different websites, seeing thousands of downloads. Its really more about people hearing my production and what Im trying to do with it. It means a lot more than the actual sales. But I think were gonna do pretty good.
DX: In a situation like yours, I think of 10 years ago when Funkmaster Flex and DJ Clue were going platinum more or less doing the same thing. They benefited greatly on worldwide exposure. What is it that you want out of album-making?
SS: Its always good to get props. Aside from that, I want a lot more work production-wise. I just did two more joints for Consequences next album, I did two joints on Joell Ortiz Aftermath album. I did a bunch of shit for Termanology and Reks albums. I just want more people to acknowledge the production side, cause the deejay side, at this point, has been established.
DX: Showoff Records is your imprint?
SS: Yeah, Brick Records is Karma and and Papa Ds label. Showoff is mine. The distributor is Traffic.
DX: What future do you see?
SS: Were definitely gonna have a label deal within the next six months, a major distribution deal for the label. Reks album is gonna drop in February. Terms album wont be on Showoff, but Im A&Ring it for Showoff. After Reks, weve got Granite State with another twelve-inch coming. Im probably gonna drop another album within six months. Im definitely dropping at least two a year.
DX: Isnt there something that makes you want to work a project harder, instead of saturating the market so heavily? Right now, a major online store is sold out of your album, but youre telling me about the next
SS: Im gonna work this album! Weve been doing a whole east coast tour; Im about to go to Chicago, L.A. Im gonna continue to work this for at least two months, promoting it. By that time though, youre gonna start to hear new records from me. The problem is, the internet has completely smashed peoples attention span. You drop an album now, people listen to it, they listen to it so much, and thats it. Its not like they went out and bought it. They downloaded it two weeks before the album came out. When it drops, they go, Oh, that shits old. Its ridiculous. If thats how people are gonna be? Personally, I think I made a top-notch album. I think you could and should listen to it a year from now. But for the people who arent like that, I still wanna keep them full, so Ill keep feeding them.
DX: Starting with the intro of the album, many of us have heralded DJ Premier as the best Hip Hop producer of all time
SS: -- He is.
DX: You almost seem like the first mixtape deejay, since Tony Touch, thats really got his support like that. Where does that come from?
SS: We help each other out. Ill give him some exclusives, hell give me some exclusives. I help him out sometimes on the business side of things, with the internet. Hell help out my artists like Termanology and Reks. It really comes down to our friendship; were pretty tight just off of our taste for Hip Hop. We just a lot in common. Premos a really good dude.
DX: When Jay-Z hopped on the Talib Kweli Get By Remix, the boundaries of Hip Hop were shattered. Youre seemingly doing that with some of these collaborations. Youve got Evidence on there and youve got Uncle Murda on there. How do you see the bigger picture?
SS: [Laughs] To me, its Hip Hop good quality music. I dont care if its Uncle Murda or Evidence, or if theyre well-known like a Q-Tip or relatively unknown like a Granite State, its all Hip Hop. If I can make a good record, its going on my album; I dont really care whos on it. I try to show that. I put some of my people on, but I also kept it [full of] pretty well-known artists, just to show that people can hang with them and underground cats can still make good music. Especially with a lot of deejays nowadays, a lot of them are corny to the point where theyre playing their artist only, and they dont play up and coming cats and they dont give a lot of people a chance. I like to show that there are cats coming up now who can hang with the best artists.
DX: On the flip of that, youve got A.G. and Large Professor on there. How do you intend to educate new audiences on the importance of guys - legends like these?
SS: When I grew up, I was very influenced by DJ Premier, Jeru The Damaja, Group Home, but also Wu-Tang [Clan] very heavily, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, A Tribe Called Quest. Also, Dre and Snoop were really big as I was coming of age. I got a lot of tastes growing up. Its good for the kids now cause they get to see [these legends].
Personally, growing up, I felt stupid if I heard about Large Professor and didnt know enough, so I researched. That way, when someone tries to check you, you know. Kids comin up now, knowing about the past to them aint as cool as it used to be. Knowing your history was cool. Now its cool if kids see cats like Uncle Murda and Cassidy on my album and go and buy it, and hear these other cats. Maybe they dont know an A.G. or a Large Professor, but they get to hear it and like it, they might go back and research it. If anything, thats my contribution to that. When I was growing up, I was 12 years old, I was really going back and researching Grandmaster Caz and Fab 5 [Freddy], all them. If I didnt know a Run-DMC record, I was going back and buying it to hear it.
DX: When you do an Express Yourself or 6 In The Morning on the album, is that channeling the originals at all?
SS: The 6 In The Morning we did wasnah, thats like a new record, [no relation to Ice-T]. The Express Yourself, yeah. We basically were inspired by the N.W.A. production. I found a different sample; it wasnt Charles Wright [& the 103rd Street Rhythm Band] like Dre used. Term wanted to do it for a while. Then Consequence heard it, he wanted to get on it. Kweli just made sense, so I reached out to Kweli. He was down This was the early stages of the album. This was like the third record that got done. I like the way it came out.
DX: How do you determine these collaborations?
SS: Really, I just go by the vibe and their taste. Styles and Q-Tip was an interesting collaboration. For a couple of years Styles has been more conscious. When I heard the beatthe beat, to me, represents something hard, cause it hits hard. It can be some street shit, but at the same time, it sounds real jazzy. I figured I could put Q-Tip and Styles on it to bridge the gap that the beat does. Putting Term on it was like new generation, paying tribute.
DX: How was the move from Boston to New York?
SS: I pretty much made my name in Boston. The move was pretty easy. I was on the radio in HOT97 in Boston for years. When I moved out to New York, I already knew all the label people, a lot of the artists. I already knew Premo, Royce Da 59a lot of these guys Ive known for a long, long time. I was already in the industry, so it wasnt awkward.
DX: Youve done so much with Termanology. But at some point, do you feel that as big as you got, you could have stayed in Boston?
SS: Looking at it like that, I dont really sweat it. I support good music that comes from that area. As far as Term and Reks, were all from the same area born in the same hospital in Lawrence. I dont look at it like that. The Boston scene got its ups and downs. If people give me their music and its good, Im gonna play it. I dont see the scene itself turning into the next Atlanta anytime soon. But I definitely see some of the artists there about to make a lot of noise.
DX: Whats next?
SS: Ive got a monster mixtape with Q-Tip called The 23 Breakbeats of Death. Its him going off all over my beats. Id say theyre my beats, but its not completely produced. Its really rare samples, and I added the 808 here, the 808 there, puttin the lay under. Its all him rappin on there. Weve got a lot of special guests really major special guests that I can't confirm just yet. Im trying to drop it now.
If you haven't already, check out the review for Statik's album, Spell My Name Right: The Album, by clicking here.