Feb 19, 2016

Review: STATIK KXNG - @StatikSelekt & @CrookedIntriago; A Niles P. Joint

Statik Selektah announced in 2015 that Lucky 7 would be his last compilation-type album since he pretty much mastered the format.  When I caught up with him at a Sean Price memorial fundraiser in Brooklyn, he mentioned that he had an album with Long Beach rapper Crooked I (now known as KXNG Crooked) coming out.  I was perplexed at first because of the regional musical contrast.  But after hearing a couple of songs, I was interested enough to preorder the album on iTunes and call dibs on the review.  There was potential there, I just needed to hear the finished product.  When the smoke cleared, STATIK KXNG stood out as a bright release of the still-young year in Hip Hop
I Hear Voices leads off and has the most Statik-like beat on the album.  Crooked starts hot and throws down over a traditional boom-bap type beat.  Magic & Bird is more bouncy than anything I’ve heard instrumentally from Statik Selektah.  The percussion still sounds natural and Crooked matches the intensity with his cadence.  I just wished it was longer.  The tone of the album becomes much more West Coast with Lost a Fan.  The lyrics have depth, touching on gentrification and prioritizing substance over anything.  KXNG Crooked is more interested in saying real shit than retaining superficial friends.  
We get a conventional California beat on Everybody Know, which was the second single.  Authenticity is the topic and Statik greatly extends his range and creates an instrumental that sounds like it could've been doctored (haha, see what I did there) by a legend in the G-Funk era.  The Cali classic vibe continues on Dead or in Jail, which was the first song I heard off of the album.  It retains its freshness and is one of the most well rounded songs here.  Stop Playing is interesting as it combines a guitar that would be right at home on a smooth jazz station with Crooked’s lyrics that have a kick and a flow with a sense of urgency.  Juxtaposition is the real king on this one.  The duo takes us to church on the next track Good Gone Bad, opening with a prayer and culminating with an organ and sampled choir on the instrumental.  That combined with an uptempo flow from Crooked makes for one of my favorite songs on the project, along with one of the best.
Let’s Go sees Statik lay down some of the best drums I’ve ever heard from him, which pairs well his trademark use of horns.  KXNG Crooked attacks the beat in an impressive combination of toughness and finesse.  Termanology makes an appearance as the only guest emcee on the album and continues to impress with violent yet tactical bars.  He’s one to watch.  The pace slows down a little for the penultimate Bitch Got Me Fucked Up.  The instrumental is more minimalistic than anythings else that’s been heard thus far but I’ve preached the importance of change-of-pace songs and this is a prime example.  Everything comes full circle with the closing song Brand New Shit.  Once again Statik ventures into comfortable territory with a jazzy beat with an understated yet prominent trumpet and piano.  It tells a story of Crooked’s dealings with a woman that’s looking for more.  This song actually reminds me of Scratch Off from Statik’s last album in its timbre.
The biggest issue I have with the album is the length.  At 33 minutes, it’s just over the half-hour threshold from EP to LP.  It goes quick and I can’t help but wish that they added a third verse to some of the shorter songs.  Otherwise this was an unlikely musical match made in heaven.  East and West blended better than I could’ve hoped for, and my expectations were high after covering the first single.  Even though some of the themes repeat, there’s enough depth and experimentation to cover everything.  This album is also a good primer for new fans that aren't familiar with either artist and need a starter pack.  It simultaneously showcases KXNG Crooked’s talents as an emcee and lets Statik Selektah expand his repertoire as a beatmaker.  An unofficial companion piece to PRhyme, I’d love to see the other Slaughterhouse members do collaboration albums with producers before they form like Voltron for another group album.  Until then, take your ass to iTunes and coronate STATIK KXNG into your music library.

Rating: 4.50 out of 5.

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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