After releasing three compilation albums and a slew of collaborative EPs and mixtapes, Statik Selektah has built a solid reputation as a producer that caters specifically to fans of 1990s East Coast hip-hop. Over his nostalgic, sample-heavy beats, the Lawrence, MA native has jam-packed his previous projects with the architects of said sound (DJ Premier, Kool G Rap, Q-Tip), as well as the like-minded purists that have spent their careers carrying on its tradition (M.O.P., Talib Kweli, Saigion, Styles P, etc). So it was a welcoming surprise to find alongside the usual suspects, Population Control also featured a slew of hip-hop’s next generation of MCs.
As expected, many of XXL’s Freshman alum make appearances (Big K.R.I.T., Mac Miller and Pill all deliver stand out verses), but the disc’s most surprising moments come from the more lesser-known acts, who have yet to even make a dent on the hip-hop blogs.
“The High Life” spotlights the shockingly comfortable flow of 15-year-old Ann Arbor, MI rapper, GameBoi. “Half Moon Part” finds underage Sacremento, CA-based rookie Chuuwee, channeling Nas circa 1993 and Grand Rapids, MI born Nitty Scott MC, makes her graceful debut, lyrically “pirouetting” all over “Black Swan.”
Population Control boasts other unexpected turns as well. A handful of the tracks feature radio-friendly hooks, sung by an array of R&B singers (Josh Xantus, Colin Munroe, Jaren Evan)—a noticeable departure from the straight up boom bap he is known for. On “Live and Let Live” Statik highlights the Christian rap stylings of Lecrae and on the bonus track, “My Friends,” the man of the hour even gets in the booth himself.
The biggest problem with the album is Statik’s need to include everyone in the party. A lot of the tracks felt too cluttered with MCs that lacked chemistry together (“Sam Jack” and “Down”) and with 20 tracks, the LP dragged towards the middle before picking up steam at the end.
Luckily for listeners, Statik’s ability to flip a beat never disappoints, as he makes sure to keep heads nodding no matter whose turn it is on the mic. Hopefully, next time Statik will be a little more selective on whom he decides to include in the general population. —Jesse Gissen