Statik's individual partnerships might yield more compelling full-length projects, but albums like "Extended Play" are fine platforms for a little showing off.
Statik Selektah’s across-the-board industry presence has yielded more than a handful of releases like Extended Play. In a lot of ways, not unlike his weekly radio show on Eminem’s Sirius XM station Shade 45 or his current duty as Pro Era’s in-house deejay, Statik’s compilation approach to these types of “solo” outings acts as a simply-defined platform for as much rapping as possible. This time, per usual, the album’s features are a cross-section of its producer’s contact list and current working relationships (there’s a little more Action Bronson and Pro Era this time around).
Still, the album, his second full-length with NYC-label Duck Down (and in concert with his own Showoff Records), isn’t just a brash amalgam of Statik’s rolodex, as there are some obviously meaningful placements throughout. Both of the lead singles noticeably bridge a generational gap in enlisting a younger emcee aside established veterans. In the case of “Bird’s Eye View,” the album’s obvious crown-jewel, Joey Bada$$ holds down the middle portion of a song kicked off by an emcee more than twice his age in Raekwon. The song’s basic loop is built out of a “chipmunk soul,” sped up vocal sample. And while Joey’s verse is delivered to good effect, Black Thought’s anchor stands apart as a show stopping display of carefully practiced lyricism and effortless dominance, with the following, “It’s the elephant in the room / Created by a collision of the sun and the moon / My sonogram was an image of a gun in the womb / That was soon to be doper than heroin in the spoon / I’m astonishing / Honestly, my future’s looking promising / As my skin tone and a crystal clean onyx is / Darker thoughts let the beats break like the Amish’s / I’m a stroke of genius like Mickalene Thomas is.”
The album’s other single and accompanying hook, “21 And Over,” is clearly partly tongue-in-cheek given Mac Miller’s recently passing the milestone and the Pro Era crew’s appearance elsewhere. This collaboration, an in-your-face intersection of oddball new wave and gritty complacency in Mac Miller and Sean Price respectively, is ironically more likely to introduce Miller’s high-school fans to the Heltah Skeltah member than vice versa.
Throughout Extended Play, Statik’s reliably consistent approach to production is the driving force for a revolving door of emcees; that said, the sometimes-simplistic Boom Bap is a function of a too-tightly-molded formula of chopping up samples and lacing drums. Still, Statik does a good job of crafting appropriate sounds for his guests: he’s reserved a fittingly raucous sample stab for N.O.R.E. and Lil’ Fame on “East Coast,” and a laid-back sax riff adds to the mellow effect of “The Spark,” a second appearance for both Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$. Sonically, one of the more exciting moments is the menacingly nimble bassline and eerie tremolo effect that Statik has looped up for Prodigy on “Pinky Ring.” Here, the beat is simply looped without feeling choppy, and the grimy sound is a fitting testament to the work that Havoc and P themselves put forth throughout the ‘90s. Later, indie darlings Blu, Evidence and REKS come together on the track “My Hoe” for another collaboration that few producers could leverage, here again the verses are piled atop a four bar loop built out of another “chipmunk soul” vocal sample.
Extended Play reads much like Statik’s past full-length showcase records—this is the fifth of its kind since 2007—but with 18 tracks and a whopping 38 guests, some of whom make more than one appearance, it’s an inherently tiring listen. At just over 60 minutes, the album is too dense to let the feature production breathe much on its own, and the three separate guest verses per song template dominates much of the project. While the album might incite a little listener’s fatigue in a single session absorption, it functions well as an inspiringly crowded display case of quality Rap in 2013. Statik’s individual partnerships might yield more compelling full-length projects on their own but albums like Extended Play are fine platforms for a little showing off.