Statik Selektah’s ‘Lucky 7′ Is Consistently Excellent
At some point in the lifespan of the genuine hip-hop connoisseur, a fan is inevitably met with the reality of apathetic industry czars overlooking talented voices in exchange for lucrative clutter in the mainstream realm. A sweeping pandemic of shiny suits in the late 1990s essentially lobotomized a generation accustomed to high-level lyricism and ingenious producers, with its return coming only in stops and starts. Sometimes the consequential hemorrhage is so severe that even the most avid hip-hop head permanently leaves to find sanctuary in another genre. But then, as luck would have it, an album like Statik Selektah's Lucky 7 arrives, a potent antidote combining both a sonic and artistic checklist of all the components sacred to the genre.
Following the blueprint of his idols DJ Premier and Marley Marl, Statik’s seventh solo LP is a teeming symphony of radiant voices. He launches the album with his signature sound on “Another Level,” and Rapsody proves an exquisite complement to the emphatic bass, spiraling soul sample and splashes of horn arrangements. Like most serious producers, Statik meticulously crafts his instrumentals as ornaments in their own right but stops short of overpowering the MC themselves, as evidenced on “Beautiful Life” featuring Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$. Here his DJ background is on full display, consistently calibrating the tempo to amplify the shape-shifting flows of the two New York wordsmiths.
In stark contrast to less talented producers who enlist MCs for name recognition alone, Statik’s posse cuts are the product of thoughtful placement. In addition to the choice to reunite The Boot Camp Clik’s Smif-N-Wessun and Buckshot on the suitably gritty nod to Da Beatminerz on “Murder Game,” tracks like “The Trophy Room” exhibit a more subtle triumph. Skyzoo, Domo Genesis and Ea$y Money all contribute razor-sharp rhymes while Masspike Miles croons over a head-nodding bass line. Statik administers wish fulfillment for fans of “1Train” and “Underground Airplay” by reuniting lyrical gurus Big K.R.I.T. and Joey Bada$$ on the equal parts brassy and breezy “In The Wind.”
Although typically regarded for his manipulation of samples and weighty bass lines, Statik’s true dynamism is that he is not creatively straight-jacketed to a particular sound. Instead, he runs the gamut of instrumental architecture, from the patterned kick drum elegance of a 9th Wonder beat (“How You Feel”) to the sprawling orchestrations of Madlib “(“Wall Flowers”). Like the pioneers before him, Statik's modus operandi is to support the vocals of the artists rather than unnecessarily flaunt his diverse palette of sounds or prove his beat-making competence. The leisurely chopped and guttural essence of “Gentlemen” is wholly fitting for Illa Ghee and Sean Price, making their execution a foregone conclusion.
In light of a decades-long exponential surplus of aspiring hip-hop producers, Lucky 7, Statik’s seventh album in eight years, is a validation of his artistry. As comedian Hannibal Buress states in the intro, “You’re lucky to be hearing this shit right now.” Given his tenacious work ethic, it probably won’t be long before Statik Selektah makes fans lucky once again. —Kellan Miller