Kanye West Told Statik Selektah 'Jazz Was Dead,' So He Went And Made A Jazz Album
What do you do when Kanye West tells you that the entire premise behind your next passion project is dead as a doornail? If you're veteran hip-hop producer Statik Selektah, you completely ignore him.
The Boston-bred DJ and producer released his sixth studio album, What Goes Around, on Tuesday (August 19), and based the entire LP's musical backbone on old jazz samples. For Statik, it's a hat tip to the hip-hop producers that he grew up idolizing, like DJ Premier and Pete Rock.
In March 2010, Statik was invited to one of Kanye West's infamous My Beautiful Dark Fantasy recording sessions in Hawaii, and at the suggestion of Nas, played one particular jazz-infused beat for Yeezy.
"The first beat I played him was the Nas one; Kanye sat there and listened for like 10 seconds and he pressed stop and he was like: 'It's cool, but jazz is dead,'" Statik recalled during an interview with MTV News. "I was just happy to be there, but the way he said that to me always stuck in mind. This album was definitely inspired by that."
What Goes Around doesn't just blend jazz with hip-hop. On it, Stat also brings worlds together, placing together a gang of MCs that you normally wouldn't see on one track list. Snoop Dogg teams with Wais P and Ransom on "All the Way (Pimp Hop)" and Bun B and De La Soul's Posdnous link on "God Knows."
"I tried to take if A Tribe Called Quest and N.W.A. came together. I tried to make a gangsta jazz album," Statik explained.
While What Goes Around is sure to appeal to a more mature hip-hop audience, it also dispels the myth that Statik's brand of boom-bap is made exclusively for the 30-plus crowd. The LP also proves that this new generation of rappers are equipped to rhyme over more than southern-baked trap tracks, or Chicago drill beats. Joey Bada$$, Logic, Ab-Soul, Astro and new comer Sincere all appear on the LP to rep for the teenage MCs and 20-somethings.
"I think it's completely different now, that's why I'm excited. I think for a long time if you went to any high school in New York and saw what they were listening to it would be Soulja Boy and all types of simple rap like Gucci Mane -- all that stuff," the Shade 45 DJ said. "Now if you go there's a lot of kids part of [Joey Bada$$'] Pro Era movement, kids that are really into the whole Beast Coast thing.
"They don't want the simple-minded rap; they want to study the lyrics and do research and find out what things mean," he continued.
Yes, as influential as Kanye West is, his assertion that jazz is dead wasn't enough to deter Statik's vision.
"It's crazy to even say that because jazz is like the backbone of hip-hop. If you name the best beats of all-time, they're all jazz beats, they're all jazz samples," he argued, citing "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)" by Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Gang Starr's "Mass Appeal."
"You can't just say jazz is dead," he continued. "That was an ultimate Kanye moment."
And now it's Statik Selektah who is having his ultimate Statik moment.