Statik Selektah Jumps “In the Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
Did you know that Shakespeare predicted hip-hop would dominate the music industry? It’s true – he even gave future artists some advice: “Say as you think and speak it from your soul.” All right, so that may not exactly be accurate, but the quote’s advocacy of self-expression remains clear. Producer and DJ Statik Selektah is one who has certainly made use of his gift of self-expression and has been successful in each of his endeavors as a result. Shakespeare may have known more than most, but Selektah knows best – just ask his platinum-selling clientele.
Aside from helping artists like Bun B, Talib Kweli, and Jadakiss reach the number one spot on the charts with his contributions as a producer, Selektah’s time and energy are appropriately spent working on his own music. Since 2007’s Spell My Name Right, his debut LP, Selektah has been busy cranking out hit after hit, including the DJBooth-approved tracks “So Close, So Far” and “Fake Love.” His most recent full-length album, 100 Proof: The Hangover, has been met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, and as he continues to work on new music for both himself and others, we can expect to feel Statik’s shock waves for quite some time.
In this exclusive, six-question interview, Statik Selektah pulls up a chair and chats with us about how he handles his duties as a producer and radio show host, how he’s affected his hometown of Boston, and what we can look for from him in the coming months.
How important was your early exposure to hip-hop culture in shaping your career today?
Every bit. I grew up learning and respecting the morals behind hip hop. Originality, no biting, doing your homework on the pioneers, etc. I don't feel a lot of new cats do that nowadays. I used to read a lot of interviews with people like Premier, Dre, etc. back in those days the source and rap pages were like school to me. If I didn't know someones name or album, I'd go find what I needed to. To this day I live by a lot of that foundation.
Your most recent project, 100 Proof: The Hangover, was praised here at the Booth as a display of your versatility. What steps do you take to grow as an artist with each new release?
I try to work with new artists, new sounds, new concepts, but at the same time stick to my routine. I listen to a lot of different music too now for sampling, not just old soul records. On the last album, I was using a lot of psych rock.
You're a producer, radio show host and founder of your own label (Show Off Records). How do you balance all these responsibilities without comprising one or another?
They all kind of work hand in hand, and each job helps the next. Sometimes I put too much on my own plate though and can fall behind. It's hard to stay focused with so many people depending on your next step, and with the exception of Dan Green and Phat Gary helping out here and there, I pretty much manage all that myself.
How do you choose who you collaborate with? What are the most important factors?
I have to be a fan of their work, or they have the right budget [laughs]. Let's keep it real. All the artists I've had on my albums though are mostly good friends or people I grew up listening to. If I get a weird vibe or shadiness from someone, I usually don't work with them again.
Acting as a voice for your hometown of Boston, how do you feel you've directly affected the local hip-hop community?
I've given a lot of the fans hope that we will get repped the right way in the industry. I know a lot of artists that get frustrated I'm not giving out handouts up there and putting on everyone that I can, but it just doesn't work that way. I have a good team right now. I work with all the cats I like anyway from Boston outside my immediate circle. Whether it be a Slaine or a Masspike Miles.
What should fans of your work be on the lookout for in the months to come?
Summer of Showoff!! 1982 (me and Termanology's [new] album) is a classic! Reks' new album has some of the best production of any album in years, and his rhymes are growing more and more. Kali's EP is coming. JFK's album is coming. Jon Hope's single. Me and Sean Price are starting our album soon! Me and Joe Scudda got an album! And in the meantime, I'm on a lot of artists' albums, from AZ to Joell Ortiz, to Styles P.
Final thoughts? Confessions? Plugs?
Shout to everybody that comes on DJBooth and shows honest feedback!! It's necessary!