Never heard of Statik
Selektah? Well get familiar. Matter of fact, shame on you for not knowing
this man. Responsible for the mixtape of the year, Royce Da 5’9″s The Bar Exam
(sorry kiddies, G-Unit Radio and Da Drought doesn’t cut it), Statik is back in a big way. This time, it’s an album of his own –
and what a lineup: Termanology, Q-Tip,
Talib Kweli, Kool G Rap, Royce, KRS-One. Excited yet? That’s just the tip
of the iceberg.
The most striking thing about Spell My Name Right is how laid back it is. I mean, when you have
dudes like M.O.P., Cormega and The Lox on an album, “laid back” isn’t
what comes to mind. Maybe that’s what makes this album so interesting – how rap
vets and newcomers known primarily for rhyming over gritty beats make the
transition to a more relaxed sound.
The album kicks off with a co-sign from DJ Primier on the intro. Termanology
joins Primo on the track, and
really sets the tone for the album. Term
carries on into the next track, and is paired with Styles P and Q-Tip in
the jazzy Stop, Look, Listen. All
three emcees ride the beat almost flawlessly, with Q-Tip providing some quotables early on: “These dudes are like toddlers, who cry and whine regardless/Of all the
toys they’ve acquired since they’ve become artists/Now stop, look and listen –
this is your pop’s edition/So I advise you be wise and take in this
rendition/Now stop the episode, before you get exposed”
Term goes in for
the third track – Express Yourself –
as well, this time with Talib Kweli and
Consequence. Kweli’s killin’ it
these days, so it’s no surprise he outshines his fellow emcees on this joint.
Next up are Joell Ortiz, Kool G Rap and
Sheek, who absolutely murder 6 In The Morning. Other dope tracks
include AZ and Cormega’s No Holding Back and Slum Village and Granite
State’s homage to hip hop, Got Me
Goin’ (Hip Hop). The album’s best track comes at the end. Did What He Had To Do, as an invigorated
KRS-One, Large Professor and L Da Headtoucha truly craft a gem.
Spell My Name,
while littered with dope tracks, isn’t flawless. While many heads would be
excited to see Freeway and Cassidy on the same song after their
famous battle, What Would You Do!? ends
up being far less engaging than most of the other cuts on the album. It’s not a
bad song by any means, but by comparison it falls in the sub-par category. Punch Out features an ill Nintendo
sample, but doesn’t fit whatsoever. Another misstep is the baffling inclusion
of a DJ Khaled interview. Ironically
enough, another interlude features Clinton
Sparks going on about how unoriginal and fucking lame DJs these days are. Food for thought, Khaled?.
The complaints on Spell
My Name Right are minimal. Most compilation albums like this suffer from a
complete lack of cohesiveness, but Statik
Selektah does a great job of providing a proper musical backdrop. The beats
are varied and interesting, but manage to maintain a relaxed atmosphere
consistent throughout. And what to say of the emcees? It’s a rarity to find an
all-star cast like this on any album, particularly these days. Spell My Name Right has the distinction of being one of the very few hip hop compilation albums that works as well in practice as it looks on paper, making it definitely worth your while.