Statik Selektah: The Ultimate “Balancing Act”

Statik Selektah

Read as producer Statik Selektah discusses the making of “Keep it Moving” with Nas and Joey Badass, playing it for Dave Chapelle in Ohio, the inspiration behind The Balancing Act title and cover art, his daughter on the closing track, the moment he fell in love with hip-hop, the story behind “Love Is Only A Feeling” by Joey Bada$$, goals, and more!

Statik Selektah will forever go down in history as one of the most legendary producers to grace the rap game. Looking back on his 25-year long music career, the Boston, Massachusetts native and Roc Nation signee gives us hope that real hip-hop will always stand the test of time. From his teenage days DJing high school functions to professionally touring the world and working with all the top MCs, Statik is an inspiration to all those who aspire to turn their dreams into a reality.

Now, Statik returns with his highly-anticipated ninth studio album titled The Balancing Act, speaking volumes to his own responsibilities as an artist, a producer, a DJ, and most importantly, a father. Similar to his previous projects, the 16-track project is STACKED with features including Nas, 2 Chainz, Killer Mike, Jack Harlow, Method Man, Dave East, Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher, Black Thought, Joey Bada$$, Bun B, Paul Wall, and more.

AllHipHop caught up with Statik, who was cooking pasta with his adorable 5-year-old daughter in his home in Brooklyn. He states, “shout out to Johnny Cupcakes, he made his own logo pasta. I got the Premium Pete tomato sauce, all my friends are making pasta now.”

AllHipHop: How are you holding up with everything happening?

Statik Selektah: I’m just relieved the album’s out. It was a challenge to get it finished up in these crazy times, but a lot of moments on the album happened because of what we’re going through. Getting people in the studio, most of this album was done via email. I don’t really like doing it like that, but no choice. 

AllHipHop: What moments happened because of COVID?

Statik Selektah: The Jack Harlow record, what he’s talking about on there. That’s a big one. The Nas, Joey record came out different than we intended. They were going to be in the studio together originally, but it didn’t happen. Joey came to me, then we sent Nas the open parts and he did it.

AllHipHop: How’d that collaboration come together?

Statik Selektah: We met up back in January Grammy weekend, I was with Nas and Peter from Mass Appeal. I texted Joey like “yo we over here, come talk about this situation.” Because Nas and Joey been talking about doing a record for a while, but I don’t think Nas ever met Joey until that night. This was January 24th. He came through, we chopped it up. I had to be so clear I needed this as my single. I know each one of them probably wanted to do something for the album. I said “nah, I need this as my first single on Mass Appeal.” It’s full circle for me having Joey who’s my little brother and Nas my big brother. When we had the meeting, man COVID turned the world upside down and the record didn’t get done for months. But it got done and I love it, so it’s all good.

AllHipHop: What does a song like “Keep It Moving” mean during these times? 

Statik Selektah: The only way to get through this year is keep it moving. I’ma keep it a buck, we replayed the sample and this girl Tina G who sings on the song came up with that part and sang it. You know what, I’m going to name the song that.

AllHipHop: How was playing it for Dave Chappelle?

Statik Selektah: I went out to Ohio a couple of times in the summer for Camp Chappelle. It was a real dope escape man, what Dave was doing out there for comedy, for music, everything. People already know how great he is, but he saved my year. Very therapeutic going out there, I was going through some personal things at the time. It was everything. First time I went out there, I saw a picture of Nas and Gary Clark Jr. on the wall in his shack. The last night, I told Dave about the record and he said “man I can’t wait to hear it.” 

I left the next day and didn’t even know I was going to go back out there, but I got the opportunity another week later. First thing I said when I got out there was “yo I brought the record.” We’re back at his garage, he throws parties at the shack. It’s 2am, he said “can we play it?” There’s already a no phone rule anyways, so yeah why not? He interrupted the party, I think Questlove was DJing. We played it and the whole room — Chris Rock’s there, Louis C.K., everybody’s going crazy to the record. It was the illest way in the world to premiere a record.

AllHipHop: What was it like seeing everyone react to it?

Statik Selektah: It was a moment, it was really dope. She’s putting altoids into salt, what are you doing baby? [talks to daughter]

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AllHipHop: She’s so cute! How do you deal with the cuteness?

Statik Selektah: She’s one of one, that’s my best friend right there. Right Harley? You’re my best friend. She’s wearing the Michael Jackson jacket, she loves Michael Jackson. [laughs]

AllHipHop: She playing “Thriller” a lot?

Statik Selektah: 20 times a day. [laughs] She’s on the album. She’s on the last song as Harley Harl.

AllHipHop: Is she usually in the studio with you when you’re cooking up? 

Statik Selektah: Nah, she goes there occasionally. She knows her way around the studio. 

AllHipHop: Ninth studio album, how are you feeling?

Statik Selektah: I feel good, this album has a certain connection to people. Everybody had a balancing act of a year, it came out at the right time. Timing’s everything, I really appreciate all the love.

AllHipHop: You got legends, you got the current hot artists. Everyone from Nas to Jack Harlow to Bun B, how do you choose who to include?

Statik Selektah: It’s all really the homies. Everybody I got on my album, I consider a friend. I’m obviously a fan of all of them. I didn’t want to force nothing, didn’t want to chase nobody around. It was a very organic album. 

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AllHipHop: Talk about the cover art and all the layers that it embodies. You’re holding your daughter, I see New York, I see dice.

Statik Selektah: It’s all the different elements, because life is definitely about balance. I live a crazy life. Obviously this year has been more calm because I haven’t toured as much but even before this I’d be with Harley until 8:30pm, then go to the studio and the club. Repeat the next day. On one hand is the dice, the DJ equipment, the city, the bright lights, but at the end of the day, this one‘s the priority. It’s the balance, all parents can relate to that. Especially this year with the homeschooling, which is brutal.

AllHipHop: Besides “Keep It Moving,” What songs mean the most to you and why? 

Statik Selektah: Jack Harlow hit a certain note with “Time” definitely, especially when he talks about Mac Miller. “Way Up” is a really personal record because it’s about Pimp C and Prodigy, Havoc hasn’t really touched on that since Prodigy died. When I sent it to Havoc, he got chills. He hit me back like “I needed this.”

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AllHipHop: How’s it feel to have a mural in New York?

Statik Selektah: There’s a couple, it’s great. Shout out to Monster Energy and Mass Appeal for making it happen. They got over 700 wheatpastes in the city, it’s everywhere. A billboard went up today in Bushwick, it’s cool. 

AllHipHop: Do you miss Boston?

Statik Selektah: I miss certain things. Obviously I miss my family up there, the food. I love the food in Boston, but I’m much more of a New York lifestyle speed. It’s a lot faster here, been here for 16 years.

AllHipHop: You say the album reminds us of how powerful hip hop is. What was the moment you fell in love with hip-hop?

Statik Selektah: Absolutely, A Tribe Called Quest “Scenario” video. I must’ve been 9 years old, whatever that is I want in. I’d heard hip hop before that, but that’s the moment I got sucked into the game. I decided I want to be a DJ when I was 13. Originally, I was buying KRS-One and Tribe Called Quest. As a kid I had the MC Hammer’s, but my favorite was Tribe. To this day, the fact that I’ve got to tour with Q-Tip around the world. When Busta’s part comes on in “Scenario,” I do the verse which is hilarious.

AllHipHop: You’re rapping it?

Statik Selektah: Yeah. That’s part of Tip’s rules, whoever’s DJing has to do the verse when it comes on in “Scenario.” It’s really been me and Scratch, besides Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

AllHipHop: Do you use any analog gear anymore?

Statik Selektah: I’m not good at it, but besides that, not really. Everything’s digital. Vinyl, I sample off records obviously.

AllHipHop: How much do you miss deejaying live?

Statik Selektah: I still DJ every week. I DJed a festival last month, it was really bizarre upstate New York. It was a cult of hippies, mad weird but it was fun. I DJ on my own a lot. Obviously my radio show, I’ve been on Shade 45 for 15 years now.

AllHipHop: I’ve been wanting to show you this! I have a tattoo, it says “Love Is Only A Feeling.”

Statik Selektah: You do? It’s crazy because I thought it was such a sleeper. I looked at the Spotify numbers, that song has 60 million on Spotify. I couldn’t believe that.

AllHipHop: I love that song, can you bring us back to when you made that record? 

Statik Selektah: It’s actually a really cool story. We’re in Canada on tour, the driver’s bringing us in an artist van to the show: me, Joey, Kirk Knight. The song’s on the radio, everybody looked at each other like “yo this is fire. What is this?” We Shazamed it, nothing came up and the song ended before we could try to Shazam it again. Oh no! I asked “what radio station is this?” The guy told me. I Googled the radio station, called the station, asked the DJ. It’s a college radio station, the DJ told me what it was. I went home, chopped it up.

While we’re on tour, we rented out Tree Sound in Atlanta. A very young and unheard of at that point, Westside Gunn drove us in the studio from the show, Joey didn’t know who he was. We went in there and did the song, put it out as part of a 3-pack. Everybody loves “500 Benz,” but we really thought “Too Lit” and “500 Benz” were the ones. “Love Is Only A Feeling” performed a lot better. It’s a great song though, shout out to the original group Homeshake too.

AllHipHop: How has your relationship with Joey evolved over the years?

Statik Selektah: I’m so proud of that kid. He’s an old soul. He’s 13 years younger than me but at times, I’ve learned from him. I don’t usually learn from younger cats like that. Joey’s a great dad, he’s an amazing actor. He’s killing it, I’m proud of him. I’m excited for people to hear the new album. 

AllHipHop: When’s that coming?

Statik Selektah: It’s like Detox, there’s 40 versions of it. It’s coming. We had a blast making it, we went out to the Bahamas on this top secret trip. We’re riding around with golf carts in this private community. It was shut down because it was hurricane season, the place was deserted. We’re there for 8 days working on the album, incredible experience.

AllHipHop: Someone asked how did you Dreamlife for the first time? Both of them are his biggest inspiration.

Statik Selektah: I met Dreamlife through CJ Fly, he saved a lot of my music. There’s been situations with either Joey, Wiz Khalifa, The Lox, different people and we couldn’t clear a certain sample. Every time he replays it and does something incredible. A lot of this album came out with Vintage Vxndals which is Dreamlife’s crew, original samples so I didn’t have to worry about clearing the samples because it was all original.

AllHipHop: Goals you have for yourself at this point?

Statik Selektah: I got a couple I can’t talk about, the ball’s rolling on them. Definitely more movies and TV stuff as far as scoring and video games. Definitely this 2 Chainz album finally wrapping up, we’ve been working on it for so long. Everybody that hears it goes crazy. I produced 2 Chainz whole album, I’m happy about that. He’s an independent artist now too. Me and Black Thought got something coming.

AllHipHop: I know he’s on the intro track to your album!

Statik Selektah: Yeah, I had to beef with him about that. He wanted to use it for something else and I said “bro, it’s the perfect intro.” I had to send him the last couple of seconds of the song going into the next song, I said “look how perfect it is!” He’s like “since you got it all figured out already…” 

AllHipHop: When are we going to see Statik Selektah on Broadway?

Statik Selektah: [laughs] That ain’t my scene. Shout out to Hamilton, I did a remix for one of the songs. I don’t think it got used, but I got to work over there. Shout out to Riggs who put all that together.

AllHipHop: What’s one thing you want fans to get from the project?

Statik Selektah: I want it to be timeless to the point where people hear it and remember what we’re going through now and be appreciative of everything. This year, a new value of life was acknowledged by people. Life is fragile. Hopefully when people go back and listen to these songs years from now, they’re like “oh wow, what a time that was.” It really timestamps 2020.

AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?

Statik Selektah: Appreciate all the love. Keep streaming it. Keep buying it. It’s all love. I really appreciate everybody. The love has been crazy with this album.