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Statik Selektah’s balancing act

Statik Selektah is one of the main producers responsible for the sounds of New York hip hop. Originally from Boston, Statik moved to NYC early in his career and soon after formed the record label, Showoff Records. Formed nearly 20 years ago, Showoff Records now has over 30 albums under its belt. From Kanye West, to Joey Bada$$, to 2 Chainz, Statik has produced for many of the greatest rappers of our generation. His boom bap beats mixed with classic record scratching has provided NYC and the world with timeless records.

Over the past year I have been lucky enough to get to know Statik, and I got to speak to him about his most recent album, The Balancing Act. The album contains 16 incredible tracks with features ranging from new age rappers like Jack Harlow, Kota The Friend, Dave East, as well as rap legends like Bun B, Jadakiss, Method Man, and Conway The Machine just to name a few. The Balancing Act is out now on all streaming platforms, and the instrumental album is out now.

The Balancing Act

You’ve been in the game for decades. You’ve seen artists, genres, and trends come and go. What’s one way that you feel that music has changed for the better?

I mean, the technology behind it. Song comes out and the whole world has it at their fingertips. Back in the day we used to have to take Vynls, CDs, mix tapes and go all over the planet with it to make sure stores had it. Now it’s like one press of a button and it’s everywhere. 

What is your favorite thing about New York? 

The speed. The speed of life and the movement through the city. It’s the way I move. When I go to other cities, I can’t be sitting in place. 

Why did you choose the name The Balancing Act?

It’s crazy because now everybody can relate with the Balancing Act because of 2020. Before this, I was with my daughter till eight thirty or when she goes to bed, then I hit the studio, hit the club, the after parties, the craziness, the nightlife. Then it started all again the next day bringing her to school and picking her up. It was the balancing act for me. This year, it’s just been 20 times more of a balancing act, especially finishing this album in the middle of a pandemic. When I turned it in, I was relieved, very thankful.

Memories

For someone who hasn’t heard the album before, what’s a song that you would recommend they start off with? 

Probably Time. Time or Keep It Moving. That’s why I set it off with that first single. 

What was it like working with Mac Miller?

I was working with Mac literally before anyone. He came up to New York for the first time to do my radio show, drove back to Pittsburgh a six hour drive, then came back the next day and it was his 18th birthday, which is crazy. Fast forward a little bit after we had some history together, he was shooting this video for the song Donald Trump. It’s crazy. Mac was beefing with Donald Trump on Twitter, and now he’s gone and this guy is running the free world (at the time of the interview) it’s insanity. I was at the video shoot for that and I told I told Mac, tomorrow morning me and Freeway we’re doing a live album with XXL.

He shows up and I’m like, “Yo Free Mac Miller is here”. Action Bronson was there as well. Free didn’t have a clue who either one of them were but I was like, trust me you’re going to want Mac on this thing. He’s from Pennsylvania, they did a song called P.A. on the live stream. It was a dope moment. Mac was still so young and into it. It was still part of the game where he was getting his feet wet. He was so into it, it was so exciting. Picture an 18 year old kid, growing up on that and doing it with someone from your own state. Shout out to Freeway man, rest in peace Mac. 

What’s your favorite memory of Sean Price? 

The jokes man. He was a funny dude it was just jokes all day. Some days he would come over and we would joke all day and not even record then leave and I’d be like “Where’s my verse?”. I miss Sean P. 

The Process

When did you start working on The Balancing Act? 

I think it was when I was in the Bahamas last September with Joey Badass working on his album. We had done the song Watch Me. The next morning at breakfast, I was like, yo can I get that record? We kind of already spoke that we weren’t going to do that there like it was all about his album. But I was like I need the record bro. I’ll play it every day at my show. He said fine.

As soon as I got that record I was like now I got an album started. This was September 2019. We were in Albany, Bahamas. It’s a private community that Tiger Woods is part owner of. It’s all soccer players and Justin Timberlake. At the time, it was hurricane season. For us it was kind of foreshadowing this quarantine, because when we were there, there was nobody there and it was just us. We had a blast, we were just there working on the album. I had one room, Chuck Strangers had one, and Powers Pleasant.

Favorites

What has your favorite verse on the album? 

I think the Jack Harlow Time record is my favorite verse of this album. Just what he’s talking about really defines 2020 man. Hearing someone from his generation talking about the frustration of the quarantine, and time and how time is of the essence. Time is the number one currency in the world.

What was your favorite song to work on? 

Oh man probably Keep It Moving. Bringing Joey and Nas together and all the instrumentation, it’s like 30 tracks of instruments, shout out to Vintage Vandal’s and Gary Klark Jr. and Haile Supreme. Haile was here for the whole album. One of the first moments of the album too is when we did the Way Up hook. It was like the first thing I posted on instagram about the album I was like who do you want to hear on this album. I like went around the room and showed Prodigy, Phife, and Mac Miller because that’s what it says in the intro. No one was on it yet and I was kind of just teasing it. I didn’t get Bun B’s verse until like June or July.

Were there any songs that didn’t make the cut that you would have wanted to have on the album?

One song. Cordae sent me a voice note of him rapping the song and he never got around to recording it. The song exists on my phone, but it’s voice note quality. Shout out to Cordae.

The Balancing Act: What’s next?

Do you plan on doing any live/virtual performances of The Balancing Act? 

Yeah this spring and summer is going to be lit. I’m looking forward to it. A lot of stuff lined up.

Do you plan on dropping any visuals to accompany the album? 

Yeah, we got some stuff we’re working on. A lot of animation stuff, but I’m going to fly around and get a couple videos shot.

Do you think you’ll have any remixes come out in the future?

Maybe, there are a couple records on the album that someone else was supposed to be on. We’ll see. I’m down with that.

What’s something that’s been keeping you excited and motivated during this quarantine? 

Man just looking forward to the future and watching my kid grow up. Can’t wait to travel again. I’m a traveling dude, usually I fly at least 100 times a year. 

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Interview and pictures by Calvin Schneider

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