The last time we found ourselves face to face with a Statik Selektah album, the Booth-approved Stick 2 Tha Script, I decided to engage in a bit of track-by-track review goodness, something regular readers know to be rarer than Yung Berg on a good track. Well, seeing as how I’ve now got Statik’s new album 100 Proof: The Hangover, easily his most expansive work to date, I thought it’d be only appropriate to revive the format and break down the album on an individual basis (skipping over intros, interludes, etc). Shall we? So Close So …
DJBooth Album Review
So Close So Far – The best thing about 100 Proof as a whole is Statik’s recruitment of artists outside his normal comfort zone, and So Close’s roster is the best example. So what if Bun B’s verse isn’t one of his best? Having Houston represented is well worth it. The same goes for Colin Munroe, whose airy, pop rooted vocals aren’t what you’d expect from an average Statik track. Oh, and Wale does a decent job too. Long story short, not a great track, but I’m happy it exists.
Critically Acclaimed – Why does a relentlessly hardcore rapper call himself Lil Fame? Got me, all I know is that this beat knocks, Saigon runs through a paint-by-numbers verse (for him) and Sean Price (Sean P!) is his usual grimy self, spending most of his verse scaring fans from ever approaching him on the street. Coming directly after So Close I feel like it’s a statement track; Statiks’ announcing that you shouldn’t get comfortable. He’s willing to do put almost any style on 100 Proof.
Night People – Statik almost always combines a soul foundation with more street level percussion, but even for him Night People’s beat is dope, and Freeway treats it well (hey, you gotta love any man who compares his dick to a boa constrictor). And while I’m not generally a huge Red Café fan, I’ll give him extra points for the Avon Barksdale reference. And the hook from Masspike Miles? I don’t mind it, I even sometimes enjoy it, but I wouldn’t be sad if it was gone. If hooks were TV shows, this would be Everybody Loves Raymond.
Follow We – Easily the hardest beat on the album; some horror-movie synths Statik embeds with a stalking bass line and darkly winding strings. The production’s a killer, so it’s only appropriate that the always high-caliber Smif-N-Wessun go in hard on the mic. I don’t see how you could have any problems with this track…and emerge in one piece.
Do It 2 Death – I know it’s going to come off like I’m hating, but I’m not, I’m just confused about the frequency with which we’re getting Lil Fame verses. Regardless, Fame crushes this one, along with legendary emcees Havoc and Kool G Rap, who basically invented street rap. On the production side the beat’s more up-tempo than average, but I feel like Statik’s trying too hard here, like he crammed as much as possible into the beat. Good track, but I’d be surprised if it was anyone’s favorite.
Come Around – Ah yeah, a little track for the ladies, and a nice change of pace following two consecutive bangers (these ebbs and flows is what people miss not listening to albums straight). Anyway, Statik’s hip-hop/business partner Termanology shows up to do the damn thing, and then Royce da 5’9” brings a little obscene Midwest flare (he apparently goes together with hip-hop like swatstikas and Nazis – is that a good thing?). So to sum up, one of my favorite laid back beats on the album, but not a great match for the respective emcees.
Drunken Nights – Long story short, Reks, Joe Scudda and J.F.K. drink a lot, and they’re not entirely sure it’s a bad thing. This beat is the exact opposite of Do It 2 Death, just as minimalist and stripped down as it gets, which says a lot for Statik’s versatility.
Life is Short – Back to back substance abuse tracks, someone call Dr. Drew. This time around Consequence is starting to think he might just smoke too much, though it he does, it makes him rhyme pretty damn well (sorry DARE officers, it’s true). More than almost another song on 100 Proof this is a head-nodder, the kind of mid-tempo cut that lets us breathe in the middle of the album. Statik clearly put some thought into this album, much respect.
The Thrill Is Gone – I would expect Kweli on a beat like this (jazzy, boom-bap, etc.) but not Styles P. And you know what? It works. Styles has been absolutely killing it lately, and here he shows any haters that his hip-hop roots run deep. Add in a memorable verse from Kweli and a superbly placed Biggie sample and you’ve got an album standout.
Get Out – Goddamn Skyzoo kills this one, and Rapper Pooh, Torae and Lee Wilson more than hold their own. For certain hip-hop demographics this is a lyrical all-star up-and-comer emcee teams, although unfortunately Statik doesn’t bring his A game on the beat. Statik knows how to make the production compliment a rapper, instead of hog the spotlight, it’s one of his strong suits, but here is sounds shy, scared to get loud.
Laughin – A coast-to-coast reunion with legendary Bay Area crew Souls of Mischief. This is the kind of track you pray you get to hear live at some point; it’s a bucket list track. Huge, celebratory beat combined with flawless mic skills? Yeah, I’m in.
The Coast – Another California-centric track that once again proves Statik put some serious thought into the track order, a skill that’s quickly becoming a lost art. The production’s got a wild wild west vibe, fitting considering the track’s staffed by Evidence, Fashawn and Kali. As a Boston born kid who now calls the west coast home, I can’t help but dig this one. Repeat status.
Fake Love (Yes Men) – Are you an aspiring rapper surrounded by people who tell you you’re the next Biggie? Guess what, you’re not, and the people around you are just feeding you false love. For those finding themselves in exactly such a situation (believe me, that’s a sizable demographic) Reks, Term and Kali have your anthem. Think about it like a public service announcement.
Eighty-Two – Basically an extended musical commercial for Termanology, which I can’t really complain about too much.
Walking Away – Booth favorite Novel finds his way onto a Statik track, along with Kali (who beats out Lil Fame for the most guest verses on 100 Proof with this one). The album definitely ends on a mellow, almost remorseful note here, and the effect is powerful .
So, zooming the lens back out onto the album as a whole, where does that leave 100 Proof: The Hangover? Good question. Ultimately, I don’t see how you could be a hip-hop fan and at the very least not respect this album, especially considering how much wider Statik’s scope has become. Call it Boston bias if you want to, but it’s still the truth.
Listen to More: Statik Selektah Written by Nathan S.
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"The Rap Life ft. Statik Selektah" (2008)
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