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Statik Selektah – What Goes Around

Statik Selektah – What Goes Around

statik-selektah-what-goes-around-artStatik Selektah – What Goes Around  
Showoff/Duck Down: 2014

Hip-hop is filled with charismatic producers looking to become superstars themselves. DJ Mustard, the king of the ratchets in L.A., is cementing his pole position as summer radio’s hitmaker by dropping an album and touring the world. Mike Will Made It supplemented his brush with pop stardom by releasing a steady stream of mixtapes in preparation for his debut album. Even more unknown guys like ATL weirdo Metro Boomin are wrangling together enough quality output to build a brand for themselves.

Statik Selektah, a Boston DJ and producer who’s been hosting his own radio show and releasing albums for the better part of a decade, looks at all of these star chasers and laughs. Turning his back to the sounds of modern rap, Statik Selektah’s sixth album, What Goes Around, pulls its collaborators into an insular world of old school styles and hyper-lyrical showmanship and traps them there, for better or worse.

As a producer, Statik is a studied professional. A boom bap purist, What Goes Around is filled with retro-leaning techniques—polished record scratching and cut-up samples. Despite a tendency for black-and-white, dusty production, he kneels into his jazz influences, and a lot of the album has a warm, inviting feel to it. But the workmanlike style of his production tires throughout the long album.

Bad beats are few and far between here; then again, so are standouts. His horn samples recall the work of Pete Rock but without any of the euphoria, and none of his beats lock in with the precision of a DJ Premier production. This is an unfair comparison; no modern artist should have to constantly be viewed in the shadow of the legends that came before. But the insistence on classical forms is a double edged sword. If you work with the sounds of an era embalmed in history, you’re going to sound a bit dated.

Armed with capable but unremarkable beats, What Goes Around lives and dies on the strength of its rappers. And there are some quality MC’s littered throughout here. Veterans are clearly happy to be back in their element of schoolground cyphers, trading bars back and forth. Styles P tells Breaking Bad jokes on “The Thrill Is Gone,” Pharoahe Monch stutters and swings around “Down Like This” and immediate highlight “The Imperial” showcases Royce Da 5’9” and Black Thought positioning themselves for a Most Underrated Rapper award. But a cypher session that clocks in at 20 tracks can grow mundane. Some of the liveliest moments on the tape are when Statik gives the song to a young rapper and lets him create a world of his own. Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$, and Boldy James all shine in their solo spots and add a little diversity to the meat and potatoes stylings of the rest of the tape.

What Goes Around is built on a timeless formula: great rappers and great beats. But too much filler weighs down the good moments and undermines the tape as a whole. The unproven mix with all-stars, beats morph into each other, and the quality of the album lives from verse to verse rather than song to song. Turns out the most important thing for Statik Selektah isn’t the fundamentals, but an editor.

★★★☆☆
3 out of 5

You can buy What Goes Around on Amazon.

9 Comments

  1. AndrewMartin520
    Sep 03, 2014 @ 12:15:00

    Pete Rock, right. I just got a lil confused by the wording.

  2. Wax On
    Sep 03, 2014 @ 12:04:00

    Soul Brother is a reference to another artist mentioned in the review, hope that helps the confusion.

  3. Thomas_76
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 02:15:00

    We must have listened to a different album. From start to finish…it’s a burner. Probably his best (solo) album from start to finish. This album will be on many ppl’s top whatever list in a few months. Bet on that…

  4. Dee Jay
    Aug 31, 2014 @ 14:12:00

    I disagree with this review, there were plenty of standouts on this album. Carry On (Gibbs killed it), Long TIme (Bronsolino killed it), The Thrill Is Back, the hidden track with Kool Keith…the list goes on. Yes, it was overly long (just like most of Statik’s albums, since nobody’s making 20-track albums in 2014) but to say that there weren’t any standouts is selling this album short. It’s easily one of my favorite albums so far this year.

  5. AndrewMartin520
    Aug 30, 2014 @ 18:59:00

    I’m a lil confused by you not being a “huge fan” yet being down with him since day one. Which is it? Or am I just reading into that too much?

  6. Wax On
    Aug 30, 2014 @ 14:37:00

    I haven’t been a huge fan of Statik, and checked this project solely based on the guest list and have to say I was pleasently surprised. To me the beats were the real stars of the album and imo the production was cohesive, flowing from track to track, instead of being mundane. Honestly aside from CYNE I haven’t come across many albums this year which you can blast from start to finish without skipping a track. I thought the MC’s did a decent job too and you could almost feel that everybody was running with the same mindset, which is rare.

    I’ve been down with the Soul Brother since day one and I’d still give this album a 4,5/5.

  7. DK
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 20:40:00

    I thought that the beats were really good on this album. He’s taking what Pete and Premo did and took it to a new level. Instead of sampling everything it sounds like he played everything and then samples it to make it sound like the riffs came off a record. “Alarm Clock” was my favorite song on here…the rappers brought content which I like. Otherwise I agree, he could out less songs on there and make a better record…nice review overall… Sharing now…

  8. Andrew_Martin520
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:15:00

    I have felt that way about all of his projects, sadly. He just puts too much music out there on every one of them.

  9. JonesG
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:46:00

    I agree, this album is very underwhelming, particularly in the beats department. You nailed it with the “sounds like Pete Rock or Premo, but without the euphoria”. It’s a little bit hollow. A shame, because his first three compilations are worth owning.

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