It's been a pretty slow year so far for hip-hop albums, but luckily next week (February 2) Statik Selektah is dropping one of 2010's first dope LPs, 100 Proof: The Hangover. The third album from the New England native features an impressive roster of guest artists like Bun B, Sean Price, Fashawn, Consequence, Smif-N-Wessun, Talib Kweli, Red Cafe, Lil Fame, and many more. But all-star lineup aside, the album's most impressive feature is the sample-heavy music, made entirely by Statik, who has quietly become one of the industry's most reliable beatmakers. To find out how the decidedly darker sound came together, Complex visited Statik's home studio in Brooklyn and asked him to break down each song off 100 Proof, track-by-track. Listen to the leaks and read Statik's commentary below...
1. "Inside A Change (Intro)"
Statik Says: "The intro is dialogue originally from Rik Cordero's movie Inside A Change. I produced the theme to the actual movie with Consequence and Paula Campbell—Me and Rik, Paula and Cons got a group called Band Camp...it's like a hip-hop Lucy Pearl—no one's ever had a music video director as part of a group before. But the second I saw Rik's movie, I was like, 'Yo I need to use that part.' It's just an ill way to start it off, because this album is especially more personal to me. This last year, between deaths and break ups and all kinds of shit, 2009 was a dark year, so to set it off that way, talking about toxic relationships and all that was some ill shit. I was just trying to help amplify what Rick was trying to do with the movie."
2. "So Close, So Far" f/ Bun B, Wale & Colin Munroe
Statik Says: This is the radio single, and it's getting a lot of love right now, but it doesn't represent the rest of the album. It just a way to set off with some hope, you know what I mean? Then the rest of the album brings you back to reality. Like, the stuff Bun B is talking about, Wale too—everybody is talking about what could be in reality, but the rest of the album is a real, real, dark reality, like really dark."
3. "Critically Acclaimed" f/ Lil Fame, Saigon & Sean Price
Statik Says: This joint originally leaked last summer. Yeah, I'm making an album with Fame, an album with Sean Price, and me and Saigon are about to do our second joint together. I'm also doing an album with Bahamadia, one with Souls of Mischief, me and Termanaology got the 1982 project coming too. I'm not trying to make [collaborative albums] my 'signature' or whatever, trust me, it's just a hip-hop thing. We get in the studio, start playing beats and it's like let's go. I think 9th Wonder is the only one in the last couple of years to do that. You look at someone like Primo, he used to to that back in the '90s with Jeru or Group Home—that's what I grew up on, so when I had the opportunity to do that with someone like a Bahamadia or Lil' Fame or anyone, it's like, 'Let's go.' But the whole 100 Proof album is just songs we just did to do. You know, my previous albums it was like me reaching like, "Yo, can you get on this?" I didn't have to do that with this album, these are people I was working with."
4. "Night People" f/ Freeway, Red Cafe & Masspike Miles
Statik Says: "That's a sick one. John Columbo is doing the video. It's Free, Red Cafe, and Masspike Miles on the hook, and we might—there's a major, major, major label artist that might get on it, but I'm not going to say it 'til it's done."
5. "Follow We" f/ Smif-N-Wessun
Statik Says: "This is the best joint Smif-N-Wessun has done in like 10 years. It's dark. They even kind of agreed. Most of the album is samples, but my man Blaze P played piano on a couple joints like this one, which kind of gives it that sinister sound. He also did the piano on my old joint with MOP and Jada 'For the City.' There are samples on every song, but I know how to make shit that's played out sound like a sample too. I played every instrument on the album except piano and strings."
6. "Do It 2 Death" f/ Lil Fame, Havoc & Kool G Rap
Statik Says: This one leaked against my will. I think it was one of Havoc's man, I was pretty pissed. I was gonna put this out the week of the album release just to be extra aggressive. Fame is here so much that we just do records and he'll do a verse and I'll be like, 'I'ma take this and get so and so on it.' I originally asked for Lloyd Banks—I sent it to him and he hit me back like, 'I'm not crazy about it.' So I was like, alright, whatever. Then Havoc got on it and Kool G. Rap. I mean, G. Rap, anything I send him he bodies. He finished it off perfectly."
7. "Come Around" f/ Termanology & Royce Da 5'9"
Statik Says: "A version of this was on the Return of Reflection Eternal mixtape, but this is the original version without Kweli. I mean, me and Kweli have done plenty of joints. He just hit me like, 'Me, Sha, and Hi-Tek went through the list of DJs and we just decided on you because of how far we go back.' You know, me and Kweli started to do mixtapes in like 2002. I don't even know Hi-Tek like that. We met a couple of times, he's always shown respect, but the fact that Kweli went out of his way to be like, 'We choose him' is an honor. And I think the CD came out crazy."
8. "Drunken Nights" f/ Reks, Joe Scudda & J.F.K.
Statik Says: That's an interesting record. Like I said, this album is a real personal album. So there's joints about relationships, joints about legal issues, there's joints about...I mean "Drunken Nights" is drunken nights.—everybody has drunken nights. Think about how many broken hearts come from drunken nights—people do things that hurt people around them. I'm not talking about just girls, I'm talking about responsibility in life. Especially in hip-hop, no one takes responsibility for their actions. It's ill having these people on the song because you know, Reks is a person that's infamous for having drunken nights, Joe Scudda, his whole shit is drunken nights, and then JFK is a dude who has actually spent a lot of his life in jail because of drunken nights. How many rap songs in history take responsibility for the irresponsibility that they have?"
9. "Life Is Short" f/ Consequence
Statik Says: This was actually originally on Cons's album, but then at the last moment Kanye was like, 'Yo, I want to do your whole album.' I'm still on three or four joints doing cuts, but Kanye produced everything. I'm happy I got this joint for my album though, because it works perfectly with the whole theme of The Hangover. He says "Back when Red and Meth had the Month of the Man..." he really hasn't smoked or anything since back then. It's kind of a conscious record—it's not really, but dudes should pay attention, man! I mean, everybody around me has had DUI's."
10. "100 Proof (Interlude)" f/ J.F.K.
Statik Says: "This is a quick interlude that my man J.F.K. did, and I appreciate it because he's talking about real shit, telling everyone to man-up. J.F.K. is a Showoff artist I work with, he's from Lynn, Massachussets."
11. "The Thrill Is Gone" f/ Styles P & Talib Kweli
Statik Says: "I put this out last spring, it was originally supposed to be the lead single. With no exaggeration, people tell me they tell me they think it's a classic. Like I've heard people react to that the same way people react to like 'Exhibit C,' which is cool. My own opinion of the song is that it's amazing. It wasn't my record, it was Styles' record and he goes, 'You know what? Take it for your shit.' I was like, okay! Even though it came out last year, we're going to do the video anyway. Zach Wolf is gonna shoot it—he's done like 20 XXL covers, the Pill video, the Big Boi video, Time Magazine, the dude is major."
12. "Get Out" f/ Skyzoo, Rapper Pooh, Torae & Lee Wilson
Statik Says: "This is another record that...everything an the album makes sense, man. None of it is out of no where. The whole beginning of the album is telling you to do it, to do it, do it, do it, and then now we're at the point of the album where the there switches to "get out while you can". Here's the thing with me. When I went to AI New England in Boston, I used to do my mixtapes and honestly if you look back at any of my mixtapes, every single mixtape tells a story. I used to like on some—I wouldn't say psychology shit, but kind of. I used to look at the tracklist and order it on that level, where certain things lead to another. So everything on this album, if you look on the tracklist or whatever, it leads to another thing. Everything is there for a reason."
13. "Laughin'" f/ Souls Of Mischief
Statik Says: "The verses are four bars each. So they kept it going every verse and they haven't done that, literally, since "93 'til Infinity." I came to the table with that concept. But then they did the album with Prince Paul, and that shit fucked up everything. But they got 20 beats from me to work with, and this is our first collaboration to come out. It's hard man, it's like different mentalities between generations of hip-hop artist. No disrespect to anyone else, but someone from my era like a Reks or Term, or even a Skyzoo, someone like that, they come through and write the verse and they spit the verse and that's it. A lot of these older generation cats work on different schedules, so it kind of changes things. They are focused, but it's a different kind of hunger."
14. "The Coast" f/ Evidence, Fashawn & Kali
Statik Says: "We did that in Evidence's crib in Venice Beach, it just felt right. I'm on the West Coast a lot. This whole album represents real life shit. Kali is an another Showoff artist I work with. I knew about him since he was like 16 or 17. One of his parents live in Lawrence, but his mother lives in Orange County, so the reason dudes called him Kali back in the day because he was from Orange County. He was back and fourth from Orange County to Lawrence. At some point it was just like, 'Yeah we're gonna put you on the team.' He does his thing."
15. "Fake Love (Yes Men)" f/ Reks, Kali, Termanology & Good Brotha
Statik Says: "This one is obviously about yes men, which I know is a major, major problem in hip-hop. It's a simple concept, but it's important. There are so many herbs out there though who just dick ride whoever is comin' out. It's wack, dude!"
16. "Eighty-Two" f/ Termanology
Statik Says: This is a preview of 1982, the album me and Term have coming out. It's me and Term together, like on some Gang Starr shit. Just wait til you hear the album."
17. "Walking Away" f/ Kali & Novel
Statik Says: "I actually made this record for Tru-Life. He's still in the fucking tombs. The last time he was in public, he was actually right here in this studio. Literally a couple of days later he was gone. This beat was originally gonna be him and Saigon, but we made the best out of it since he's still locked up. The chorus goes 'You go your way, I'll go mine,' it's a great way to end the album"
BONUS: Hidden Track!
Statik Says: "Actually there's a secret song on there, it's pretty funny. You gotta fast forward like a minute after the album for it. It's something hilarious that happened one time with me, Lord Sear, and Fame. You'll see."