Spinning a Statik Selektah record is like attending a block party in Boston, Massachusetts: it’s packed with people, there’s a seemingly endless number of beats, and everybody gets their turn on the mic. Since his initial LP, Spell My Name Right (2007), Statik Selektah’s drawing power has been in his textured sample-based beats and his legendary ensemble of rappers, including: Q-Tip, Kool G Rap, Slum Village, Redman, Bun B, KRS-One, Royce da 5′ 9″, Talib Kweli, Raekwon and Black Thought. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
For Lucky 7, released in the wake of Pete Rock’s long overdue Petestrumentals 2, as well as an already-formidable year in hip-hop, Statik steps up to show his colors once again on the beat-making front.
Statik continues doing what he does best: nostalgic boom-bap infused with soul and R&B sampling. In his signature style, there are a couple of colorful bangers such as “Bodega!” that hark to the energy of his earlier work: see here and here. But perhaps the bigger star of this album is its overall subdued nature, a sound closer to that of his last album, What Goes Around (2014) . Tracks like “Scratch Off”, “Sucker Free”, “Silver Lining” and “Cold” pull back on the aggressiveness and coast through with gentle keyboards and jazzy horns. The clutter of DJ scratches disappears for longer than perhaps the more avid fan may prefer. Statik is definitely more Hi-Tek than Just Blaze here.
Judging a producer-centric LP on lyrical merit is not necessarily easy. The album’s intro, a monologue by Hannibal Buress, poses the project’s theme: luck. This mission statement, though comical, does propose interesting thoughts on luck vs. success: “Is there a such thing as luck? Do you even deserve to be lucky?” But as successfully as this theme is shaped, the album ultimately defuses into less-focused episodes: women (“All You Need”), brag rap (“Gentlemen”), etc. The finest moments are when the theme of luck/success are utilized. Royce da 5’9″ drops a vulnerable verse on “Crystal Clear” about “trying to do the impossible…trying to walk on water and not sink“, and on “Scratch Off”, Talib Kweli reflects on the nature of desperation: “betting on a fallacy, handing over our salaries“. These rappers have reaped the spoils of hard work, but they still know how much they’ve risked to get where they are.
With this broad of a rapper spectrum, Lucky 7 sports an eclectic but cohesive vocal collage. Standout performances include Big K.R.I.T.’s Big Boi-esque delivery on “In The Wind”, Royce da 5’9″‘s command of the shifty “Crystal Clear” beat, and CJ Fly’s cappuccino-smooth mile-a-minute flow on “Scratch Off”. There is very little, if any, stragglers amongst this number of big names, and the result is the feeling of a tight, complete package.
Statik Selektah’s latest project showcases his affinity for the subdued and the thoughtful. It’s not as boisterous as Extended Play (2014) or Spell My Name Right. Instead, it continues down the thematic path he forged with What Goes Around. The sheer range Statik has demonstrated over the years is astonishing, and he has long since paid his dues as a highly coveted producer. Chalk Lucky 7 up as another addition to his steadily filling trophy room.