Veteran producer Statik Selektah teams up with prolific, highly respected west coast lyricist Crooked I for this short but sweet ten track project. The self-titled LP showcases Selektah’s versatile, nineties influenced production and Crooked’s savage, decisive pen game; the individual talent of both these guys is enough to build anticipation, and if their chemistry can stay at a consistent level for the duration of the project, it would certainly be a project to be reckoned with, packed with integrity, grit and skilful execution.
The album’s opener ‘I Hear Voices’ is a passionate, soulful cut. With a partnership such as this one I was expecting the vibe to be an entirely raw one, but the refreshing feel to the first track sets a surprising but entirely enjoyable tone. Kxng Crooked’s introspective, personal lyricism is matched with a gritty delivery, and Statik’s chops are in keeping with his terrific track record. Smooth flows and intelligent writing laced with a raw, street edge make the Long Beach spitter’s skill easy to appreciate. The message to wack MCs ‘Everybody Know’ is a lesson in how to kick lyrical exercise while maintaining intensity and presence, without sounding played out or tired. Statik’s creepy production is a perfect match for the punchlines and silky, melodic flow in Kxng Crooked’s vocal.
Crooked’s punchlines are nice, his flows diverse and his energy at a constant high. Statik Selektah also displays a varied range of beats, from more traditional boom bap-esque tracks to layered, textured tracks such as ‘Magic & Bird’ to smooth numbers like ‘Dead Or In Jail’. On that track Crooked’s stream-of-consciousness approach is cool, but I was kind of expecting more from him here. Or maybe they’d be more suited to one of Statik’s grittier instrumentals. When the beats and bars are in sync with each other the results are fantastic; a case in point is the sinister, energetic ‘Good Gone Bad’, but there’s a number of tracks on ‘Statik Kxng’ that feel a little underwhelming. Massachusetts underground stalwart Termanology impresses on the only feature of the entire LP on ‘Lets Go’, a gritty east coast banger, and his chemistry with Statik is clearly evident here.
Statik Selektah and Crooked I have crafted an entertaining project with ‘Kxng Crooked’; it’s a nice mesh of styles, and serves as a vessel where they are both hitting their respective marks. The collaboration brings up some surprising sonic results too, perhaps with them both occupying a space slightly further out of the box than they usually would. This is all deserving of praise, and it’s hard to pick any particular fault with the songs themselves, I just wonder how often I’ll be revisiting this though. Still, the ten track collection, which clocks in at just over the half-hour runtime, is definitely one to check for any listener seeking intelligent rap music and jazzy, authentic production.
By Sam Bennett