At this point, a Statik Selektah release wouldn’t feel right without the recruitment of two dozen rappers backed by fiery production. This signature approach is tweaked slightly on Population Control, where the Lawrence, MA producer/deejay has primarily reached out to a younger crowd of emcees that he believes will carry Hip Hop into the future. His selected torchbearers are at best reassuring, with thriving upstarts like Big K.R.I.T., STS and Action Bronson highlighting a lyrical prowess that warrant repeat listens. Then, peep “Sam Jack,” where abrasive horns and drums from Statik bring out the best in XV, Jon Connor and Kid Daytona. Equally impressive is “Black Swan,” which shines the light on a few female emcees that have been paying their dues. Shedding any notion of a "pretty girl syndrome," Nitty Scott MC and Rapsody rip the microphone to the point that you’re slightly embarrassed for their male contemporaries.
Acting accordingly, Statik also gathers up a handful of veteran mainstays like Bun B, Talib Kweli and Sean Price as well as his Showoff Records’ comrades Termanology and Reks to round out the revolving door of lyricists. Over an eerie yet alluring beat, Kweli sneakily spits darts (“Nigga’s is sheepish, secretive, so mysterious / Claiming that you’re blood but you’re really on your period”) on “You’re Gone,” while the celebratory anthem “New York, New York” fittingly settles in with instinctive verses from natives Saigon and Styles P. In a collaboration that seems nearly improbable, “Damn Right” turns out to be the album’s standout record. Matching Brother Ali’s stream of consciousness with Joell Ortiz’s gritty cadence, the two deliver a radiant performance on overcoming inner city struggles.
Statik Selektah has never been the one to short his listeners on material; however this decision leaves Population Control open to spotty execution. Teaming up three young individuals that inadequately back up their arrogant rhymes, “The High Life” boringly meanders to less than desirable production from Statik. Mac Miller’s record doesn’t fare much better, with unimaginative rhymes about an overplayed theme falling far short of impressionable. It also doesn’t help that Josh Xantus sounds tonally flat on the hook. Consequently, the album lacks cohesion, making it easier to jump around the tracks rather than listen all the way through.
Statik Selektah may cosign all the rappers present on Population Control, but it’s evident that his approval doesn’t necessarily translate to a pristine collaboration in every instance. Still, as an artist who has built his reputation on consistency, his latest effort is a fairly solid project that likewise keeps the embers of Hip Hop glowing with passion.