Statik Selektah – DJ/Producer & Hip-Hop Gatekeeper

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Statik Selektah

Muliple Mixtape, Quality Production, Statik Selektah Is At The Hip-Hop Forefront

Few have the work ethic or eye for talent that Statik Selektah does. Originating in New England, inspired in New York City, Statik is now respected up and down the eastern seaboard and around the globe. The following are his thoughts on the New Guard–including one of my favorite topics, Kreayshawn–New England and his new album, Population Control.
Parlé: First off, thanks a lot for letting me reschedule (I had read the editor’s emails wrong, and missed the day of the interview); that was my fault. What’s going on? What are you up to right now man?
Statik: Just screwing around, working on this album.
Parle: Tell us a little bit about the album, Population Control. I know it’s coming up soon. What can the fans really expect from this thing?
Statik: I think it’s a lot different sound than what people are used to from me. There’s a lot of sample-free stuff. I try and display all the new generation, the best cats from the new generation, and put a couple OGs in there. But I think … I don’t know, I think it’s a different sound from me, especially compared to my last album.
Parle: You mentioned finding the people from the new generation to put out there; I think the press release said something about finding out who is legit. What criteria did you look at when you were deciding who made the cut?
Statik: Just people that are not only nice on the mic, but will help someone get their own buzz up. I think there’s so many different kinds of hip-hop right now, and it’s very interesting to realize how people are getting up there. If you look at how Mac Miller–who’s fans are like kids–the same thing with Chris Webby and people like that, they sell out these shows where people don’t necessarily sell out shows … really established people can go through the same venues and not sell out. It’s crazy how the young kids are grasping on to these new kids, man. I’ve never seen anyone like Mac come out and within a year sell out tours, you know?
Parle: Coming on the same sort of line, what do you think about, especially on the West Coast, people like Odd Future and Kreayshawn … that weird … it’s totally different from what we’ve been seeing. What do you think about that kind of movement?
Statik: Like I said, it’s the kids. I feel like they’re on to something now. I think dudes like Wiz Khalifa were the beginning of that. He started a fan base without radio or TV or any of that, and it’s like a movement … There’s just so many different vibes out. Like, if you look at Kreayshawn, I don’t think she could have came out five years ago. It wouldn’t work. But now people are like … there’s a whole new generation of teenagers out there, this is what they do. They put people on, you know?
Parle: Definitely. You ended up with lots of good artists on Population Control. Who were some of your favorites to work with?
Statik: I always work with Bun B, he’s a good friend of mine. He’s just like one of the nicest dudes in the world. I like to work with him. Action Bronson, who I got an album coming out with in November, he’s always fun to work with. A lot of people … usually I work in studio with everybody. There’s a couple songs on there that I didn’t do in the same studio … some of the songs were like things from other projects that I asked if I could use on this. But they still represent what I was going for.
Parle: Was there anyone you wanted to put on Population Control but you couldn’t get?
Statik: Yeah. I wanted Kendrick Lamar. It just didn’t happen in time, but we spoke, and we’re definitely going to work. I definitely wanted J. Cole. That’s pretty much it. There wasn’t really anyone I had a hard time getting on there, it’s just that J. Cole and Kendrick were two people that I definitely wanted that just didn’t happen in time.
Parle: How did growing up in New England, as opposed to New York City or Los Angeles–places were people typically think of hip-hop–affect your career?
Statik: New England’s huge in hip-hop. We grew up with ED O.G. … and especially Guru, rest in peace. There’s a lot of history that came from there, especially in the late 90’s. When the whole Independent Rawkus thing blew up, we had a lot of people reppin’ Boston from Esoteric to Mr. Lif and Akrobatik. They’re were a lot of people coming out of New England. We kind of grew up in the middle of it, and I’ve been non-stop with this hip-hop for a long time. Since I was like 10 years old. It’s so close to New York that a lot of the same energy runs through.
Parle: You think that being so close to what The Mainstream considers the Mecca of hip-hop, cats come out of New England almost with a chip on their shoulder?
Statik: I wouldn’t say that. I think we get overlooked. I don’t know; it’s weird. There’s a lot of reasons. I’ve been asked those questions for a long time. There’s a lot of reasons that Boston didn’t really blow up like that. I don’t know. It’s hard to call. There’s just so many different reasons. It has a lot to do with the artists, man, how people don’t really support each other the right way. I don’t know. There’s a weird gap between the fans and the artists in Boston; it’s hard to explain.
Parle: Alright. Now, obviously people know the story of you hearing Flex and Premiere on Hot 97 and wanting to start to DJ. Can you just tell me what that moment was like? Was it sort of this revelation that that’s what you wanted to do? Was it more subtle than that? How did that go down?
Statik: I was a kid. I was like 13 years old .. I was already into hip-hop, like I knew about everybody man … but I never heard that live in my life. I was 13. I hadn’t been to a club. In Boston at the time there was no radio or DJ’s coming up or all that. So hearing Primo mix live on radio, with his own songs that he produced, he was playing a lot of exclusives … it was crazy. Just the way he was doing it live on the radio. I was like wow … for anyone growing up in hip-hop, hearing something like that, that’s like Mecca. It was a whole new experience to hear Primo in ’95 playing his own records live. I was like, this is ridiculous. That’s what I want to do. I haven’t done anything else since.
Parle: I mentioned I was going to interview you to my friend who’s a producer, and he wanted me to ask you about how prolific you are. Where does that work ethic come from, man?
Statik: From having no life [laughing]. I always say that joke, but it’s like I really don’t do anything else but make music and go out and network with people. I don’t have, you know, I don’t do normal people stuff … I get bored if I’m not making music. I don’t really have any other hobbies; I don’t play pool or that shit.
Parle: You’re known for sort of getting on with a lot of up and comers before they blow up. Where’s that eye for talent come from? Is it just a gift, or what?
Statik: For a long time, I watched a lot of people come up around me and then blow the fuck up. So I was like, I’m not going to let people just do that anymore. You know, I worked with Akon before anyone knew who he was. I did his mixtape for Universal. I worked with John Legend real close before he blew up. I’ve watched so many people just come out, become multi-millionaires, and you know what? No. From now on, I’m going to work with everybody. I could have done 100 songs with Akon back in the day … but at the same time, at that point I wasn’t really opened up to production; I was more into DJing stuff. Now it’s like I’m not letting anyone come out without working with ’em first. I’m definitely watching who’s going to come up.
Parle: You’re sort of like the gate-keeper for that next level.
Statik: True [laughs].
Parle: You’ve got your hands in a lot of things involved with rap music and hip-hop and stuff. What aspect of what you’re doing right now do you find the most rewarding?
Statik: I like going overseas. When I tour in America, people only want me to play my records now.  That goes back to what I was saying about Premiere playing his own records; that was it for me. And now, I’m actually doing that. I’m just bugged out. The first time I went on a DJ tour of Japan, I played the first night in Tokyo, and the promoter of the show was like “you killed it, but the people were disappointed.” I was like what do you mean? He was like “you only played a couple of your songs. They just want to hear you play your songs.” I was like what? So the next night, we were in like Yokohama or something, and I played just my songs and people went crazy. That, to me, is bugged out. Because I’ve been DJing for so long, I never did that till that day. A lot of things I was doing, I would just get out there and play Biggie and Tribe and Guru and just go work with it. But people actually only wanting me to play stuff that I produce … that’s the full circle from when I was listening to that Premiere shit. That’s the illest feeling as a DJ.

Few have the work ethic or eye for talent that Statik Selektah does. Originating in New England, inspired in New York City, Statik is now respected up and down the Eastern seaboard and around the globe. The following are his thoughts on the New Guard–including one of my favorite topics, Kreayshawn–New England and his new album, Population Control.

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Parlé:  What’s going on? What are you up to right now man?
Statik Selektah:  Just screwing around, working on this album.

Parlé:  Tell us a little bit about the album, Population Control. I know it’s coming up soon. What can the fans really expect from this thing?
Statik Selektah:  I think it’s a lot different sound than what people are used to from me. There’s a lot of sample-free stuff. I try and display all the new generation, the best cats from the new generation, and put a couple OGs in there. But I think … I don’t know, I think it’s a different sound from me, especially compared to my last album.

Parlé:   You mentioned finding the people from the new generation to put out there, what criteria did you look at when you were deciding who made the cut?
Statik Selektah:  Just people that are not only nice on the mic, but will help someone get their own buzz up. I think there’s so many different kinds of Hip-Hop right now, and it’s very interesting to realize how people are getting up there. If you look at how Mac Miller–who’s fans are like kids–the same thing with Chris Webby and people like that, they sell out these shows where people don’t necessarily sell out shows … really established people can go through the same venues and not sell out. It’s crazy how the young kids are grasping on to these new kids, man. I’ve never seen anyone like Mac come out and within a year and sell out tours, you know?

Parlé:  Coming on the same sort of line, what do you think about, especially on the West Coast, people like Odd Future and Kreayshawn … that weird … it’s totally different from what we’ve been seeing. What do you think about that kind of movement?
Statik Selektah: Like I said, it’s the kids. I feel like they’re on to something now. I think dudes like Wiz Khalifa were the beginning of that. He started a fan base without radio or TV or any of that, and it’s like a movement … There’s just so many different vibes out. Like, if you look at Kreayshawn, I don’t think she could have came out five years ago. It wouldn’t work. But now people are like … there’s a whole new generation of teenagers out there, this is what they do. They put people on, you know?

Parlé:  Definitely. You ended up with lots of good artists on Population Control. Who were some of your favorites to work with?
Statik Selektah:  I always work with Bun B, he’s a good friend of mine. He’s just like one of the nicest dudes in the world. I like to work with him. Action Bronson, who I got an album coming out with in November, he’s always fun to work with. A lot of people … usually I work in studio with everybody. There’s a couple songs on there that I didn’t do in the same studio … some of the songs were like things from other projects that I asked if I could use on this. But they still represent what I was going for.

 

Parlé:  Was there anyone you wanted to put on Population Control but you couldn’t get?
Statik Selektah:  Yeah. I wanted Kendrick Lamar. It just didn’t happen in time, but we spoke, and we’re definitely going to work. I definitely wanted J. Cole. That’s pretty much it. There wasn’t really anyone I had a hard time getting on there, it’s just that J. Cole and Kendrick were two people that I definitely wanted that just didn’t happen in time.

Parlé:  How did growing up in New England, as opposed to New York City or Los Angeles–places where people typically think of Hip-Hop–affect your career?
Statik Selektah:  New England’s huge in Hip-Hop. We grew up with ED O.G. … and especially Guru, rest in peace. There’s a lot of history that came from there, especially in the late 90’s. When the whole Independent Rawkus thing blew up, we had a lot of people reppin’ Boston from Esoteric to Mr. Lif and Akrobatik. They’re were a lot of people coming out of New England. We kind of grew up in the middle of it, and I’ve been non-stop with this Hip-Hop for a long time. Since I was like 10 years old. It’s so close to New York that a lot of the same energy runs through.

Parlé:  You think that being so close to what The Mainstream considers the Mecca of Hip-hHp, cats come out of New England almost with a chip on their shoulder?
Statik Selektah: I wouldn’t say that. I think we get overlooked. I don’t know; it’s weird. There’s a lot of reasons. I’ve been asked those questions for a long time. There’s a lot of reasons that Boston didn’t really blow up like that. I don’t know. It’s hard to call. There’s just so many different reasons. It has a lot to do with the artists, man, how people don’t really support each other the right way. I don’t know. There’s a weird gap between the fans and the artists in Boston; it’s hard to explain.


Parlé:  
Alright. Now, obviously people know the story of you hearing Flex and Premiere on Hot 97 and wanting to start to DJ. Can you just tell me what that moment was like? Was it sort of this revelation that that’s what you wanted to do? Was it more subtle than that? How did that go down?
Statik Selektah: I was a kid. I was like 13 years old .. I was already into Hip-Hop, like I knew about everybody man … but I never heard that live in my life. I was 13. I hadn’t been to a club. In Boston at the time there was no radio or DJ’s coming up or all that. So hearing Primo mix live on radio, with his own songs that he produced, he was playing a lot of exclusives … it was crazy. Just the way he was doing it live on the radio. I was like wow … for anyone growing up in Hip-Hop, hearing something like that, that’s like Mecca. It was a whole new experience to hear Primo in ’95 playing his own records live. I was like, this is ridiculous. That’s what I want to do. I haven’t done anything else since.

Parlé:  I mentioned I was going to interview you to my friend who’s a producer, and he wanted me to ask you about how prolific you are. Where does that work ethic come from, man?
Statik Selektah: From having no life [laughing]. I always say that joke, but it’s like I really don’t do anything else but make music and go out and network with people. I don’t have, you know, I don’t do normal people stuff … I get bored if I’m not making music. I don’t really have any other hobbies; I don’t play pool or that shit.

 

Parlé:  You’re known for sort of getting on with a lot of up and comers before they blow up. Where’s that eye for talent come from? Is it just a gift, or what?
Statik Selektah: For a long time, I watched a lot of people come up around me and then blow the fuck up. So I was like, I’m not going to let people just do that anymore. You know, I worked with Akon before anyone knew who he was. I did his mixtape for Universal. I worked with John Legend real close before he blew up. I’ve watched so many people just come out, become multi-millionaires, and you know what? No. From now on, I’m going to work with everybody. I could have done 100 songs with Akon back in the day … but at the same time, at that point I wasn’t really opened up to production; I was more into DJing stuff. Now it’s like I’m not letting anyone come out without working with ’em first. I’m definitely watching who’s going to come up.

Parlé:  You’re sort of like the gate-keeper for that next level.
Statik Selektah: True [laughs].

 

Parlé:   You’ve got your hands in a lot of things involved with Rap music and Hip-Hop and stuff. What aspect of what you’re doing right now do you find the most rewarding?
Statik Selektah:  I like going overseas. When I tour in America, people only want me to play my records now.  That goes back to what I was saying about Premiere playing his own records; that was it for me. And now, I’m actually doing that. I’m just bugged out. The first time I went on a DJ tour of Japan, I played the first night in Tokyo, and the promoter of the show was like “you killed it, but the people were disappointed.” I was like what do you mean? He was like “you only played a couple of your songs. They just want to hear you play your songs.” I was like what? So the next night, we were in like Yokohama or something, and I played just my songs and people went crazy. That, to me, is bugged out. Because I’ve been DJing for so long, I never did that til that day. A lot of things I was doing, I would just get out there and play Biggie and Tribe and Guru and just go work with it. But people actually only wanting me to play stuff that I produce … that’s the full circle from when I was listening to that Premiere shit. That’s the illest feeling as a DJ.

 

 

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Kreayshawn – Why is She So Misunderstood?
Mr. Collipark – Taking Back Music (And The Club)
DJ Skee – The Next Big Mogul
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The Stereotypes… The Story Behind The Hits