I caught up with Statik Selektah at the Alphabet Bar during the DJ / Producer’s recent visit to London; ahead of his much anticipated live show with Saigon at Madame Jo Jo’s (hosted by The Doctor’s Orders) - a real treat for any true hip hop head.
Hidden in the criss-crossing back streets of Soho, Alphabet is a fusion of art house with its graffiti murals, and the usual swanky gastro pub style venue. Amazingly it exudes an ultra chilled, yet funky vibe. As we sank into the worn brown leather sofas, I waxed lyrical with the ‘mixtape don’ about all things hip hop, including whether our beloved genre has indeed lost its way.
Statik is amongst the hip hop pioneers still keeping it real on a scene which he describes as being ‘unbalanced right now’. Certainly his own love of music and in particular hip hop, stems from the old skool and began during the Thanksgiving holidays back in 1995, when he first heard DJ Premier on New York’s Hot '97.
Already a fan of the likes of Gangsta and Ja Rule, his passion of hip hop was solidified that day in his aunts house in New Jersey as he recalls, “When I heard him [DJ Premier] on the radio, the way that the mix shows were back then, the way DJ's were cutting and blending records, it was like - that was it. There were other DJs that weekend too, I heard Funk Flex and Kid Capri, they used to do the Thanksgiving Mix Master week, but just hearing Premo, I was like - that’s what I am going to do".
“I went home, stole my dad's turntables, and just started learning how to scratch and that's all I have ever really done since that day. I kind of gave up the rest of my life to do that”. For a man who is always ‘trying to stay twenty steps ahead’ of the game and claims that his down time ‘is music’, it would appear that he has dedicated his life to his art.
His current release ‘100% Proof: The Hangover’, amongst one of his all time favourite projects (of which there are many), is a true exorcism of the soul for the ‘new king of the boom bap’. He says of the project, “A lot of DJs and producers can do complication albums which are just random, but every song on this album has some personal connection to my life".
“I look at it like they're kind of my voice, all the artists on the album; it is very relevant to the last year of my life. I have changed a lot; all the dark subjects on this album like stuff about relationships and repercussions of drunken nights and all kind of stuff, it feels good to get them off my chest”.
It is no surprise that 100% Proof, whilst released last month, was in fact completed nine months ago. Since then, he has been involved in other label projects with the likes of Termanology and Souls of Mischief but to name a few. After all, he and Saigon famously completed “All In A Days Work” in literally less than 24 hours, which apparently comes naturally to the producer. “I could do that every weekend, it's not hard. It's just about finding an artist that can do that. Saigon is really incredible in the way he can lay a verse in one take, not everybody can do that”, professes Statik.
Saigon is said to be amongst his favourite artist to collaborate with, as well as Bun B who he describes as ‘the most real dude that I have ever worked with’. The list is endless including members of his own crew like Reks, Freeway, Termanology, J.F.K and Kali. As well as regulars to his studio such as Sean Price, Consequence, Styles P and of course Talib Kweli. Basically it is a laid back affair, with Statik’s motto being, “I don’t work with people who, if I work with them once and they are a headache, I don’t work with them again”.
Statik Selektah is claimed to have become the ‘go to guy for every MC’ and alongside the likes of Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Alchemist (amongst others) is at the forefront of continuing to keep hip hop ‘fine tuned’. As he states, “I am not even being biased, forget about the quality, it’s about the concept of making fun, raw hip hop and there just aren’t many options for that [anymore]”.
100% Proof: The Hangover (Showoff / Brick Records) is available as a digital EP on iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody and Amazon. Alternatively, check out: http://www.showoffhiphop.com or http://www.brickrecords.com. Also catch DJ Statik Selektah every Wednesday on his live radio show (check out http://www.showoffhiphop.com for further details) and Thursday’s at 10 pm - 12 midnight EST on Eminem’s Shade 45 internet radio station:. http://www.siriuscom/shade45.