Statik Selektah - Population Control

Posted October 25, 2011

Talk to anyone who’s been in the game for more than a minute and they’ll all tell you the...

Population Control Album Review

Talk to anyone who’s been in the game for more than a minute and they’ll all tell you the same thing: there are more wack rappers out than ever before. They’re right, and it’s not just the talk of grumpy old men, it’s math. For simplicy’s sake, let’s say that .01% of the population tries to rap, and half of those wannabes are inherently wack. That means in 1999, when there were only six billion people on Earth, there were approximately 30 million wack rappers roaming the planet.

In 2011, not only is it easier than ever to “rap” – just log into YouTube and go – but the global population’s due to hit the seven million mark any week now (seriously). So if .05% of the population now tries to rap, and half of them are inherently wack, that gives us 150 million wack rappers, a staggering 120 million person increase in wackness. Is it any wonder then that Statik Selektah’s been forced to do some serious Population Control?

Don’t worry, I won’t make you do any more math. From here on out all you’ll need for this review is basic reading comprehension and functioning eardrums. (As if anyone actually checked my numbers above.) As regular readers of The DJBooth know, Statik Selektah’s slowly but surely built himself from a major player in Boston’s provincial hip-hop scene to a major player period, and a producer album like Population Control that boasts an impressive roster of emcees is simultaneously proof of his beat skills and the widespread respect he’s earned from his hip-hop peers. The man’s come a long way from taking to the 88.9 airwaves to demanding people spell his name right.

It’s really not complicated. If you dig quality production and quality lyricism, you’ll dig Population Control. And if you don’t, well then I find it hard to believe you’re even reading this review. The album’s unquestioned coup has to be grabbing both Big K.R.I.T. and Freddie Gibbs for Play the Game, a slowly meditative joint that brings the two heralded emcees together on the mic for the first time. Game’s far from Population Control’s only hip-hop head Dream Team and like DJ Khaled, if Khaled didn’t yell and actually had talent, he’s obviously got a knack for building a roster. Bringing Styles P and Saigon together for New York New York reveals how just how much the two have in common beyond their shared hometown, Never a Dull Moment throws together Action Bronson and Bun B to head-nodding effect, and while it makes perfect sense once I hit play, I never thought I’d see the day when Talib Kweli and Lil Fame (of M.O.P.) joined forces. This album makes hip-hop feel like a fantasy team that Statik’s carefully built to score points in any situation.

While there are certainly some marquee names to splash on the album cover, I’m almost more impressed by the inclusion of a litany of virtually unknown to up-and-coming emcees. Let’s Build is secretly one of the most cross-coast cuts ever done, bringing together L.A. representers Mitchy Slick and Chace Infinite with East Coast for lifers Wais P and JFK, while The High Life is sure to draw more than a couple “wait, who are those guys?” questions. (They’re Kali, Gameboi and Chris Webby, for the record.) And while we’re no strangers around these parts to Rapsody and Nitty Scott (check and check), Black Swan is some of the best work we’ve heard from both. But Population’s biggest surprise, and in many ways success, has to be Live & Let Live, a track that will not only introduce Lecrae’s stellar rhyme work to many but start to redefine what people expect from a Christian rapper.

The explosion of wack rappers we’re currently living through can often feel like it’s threatening to take over, but trying to suppress them is a fool’s approach. Like a zombie rap invasion, no matter how many you kill it will never be enough. Instead the only way to ensure the survival of the dope rap species is to strengthen from within, make the music indestructibly good. So, without exaggeration, Statik’s not only put together a nice album, he’s fired a powerful shot in the war to keep truly quality music alive. It’s exactly the kind of Population Control the game so badly needs.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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Posted October 25, 2011
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