“Appreciating This Time on Earth More Every Day”: The Stories Behind Statik Selektah’s “8”

A fter building a stellar reputation for himself through several full-length albums featuring a diverse list of guest MCs, DJ and producer Statik Selektah decided that his 2015 project Lucky 7 would be his final release. Much had changed since he dropped his debut Spell My Name Right in 2007, and as a recent father with a new set of responsibilities, it seemed like a good time to shift his full-time focus to DJing and guest production. In a heart-felt goodbye to his fans, Statik brought Lucky 7 to a bittersweet conclusion by sampling his daughter’s first heartbeats on “Harley’s Blues”.

The Spotify version of Statik Selektah’s 8.

It wasn’t long, however, before Statik realized he couldn’t stay away for good. After feeling a renewed creative spirit following the release of Lucky 7, it seemed like coming out of retirement to drop a new album was a necessary move. “Just new energy,” Statik says while reflecting on the reasons for dropping 8 in December of 2017. “Watching my daughter grow up. Just appreciating this time on earth more every day — it felt like good timing.”

8 is a testament to Statik’s rock solid reputation as a producer and his ability to maintain positive relationships with MCs from a wide variety of regions and eras. You’ll hear 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa on “Man of the Hour” immediately followed by the Run The Jewels collaboration “Put Jewels on It”, with “But You Don’t Hear Me Tho” featuring The Lox and Mtume just a few songs later.

“We brought them out at summer jam, and Prodigy said he was gonna knock it out that week — and passed four days later.”

Working with so many different artists on one project takes a deft hand, as it’s easy for a producer album to devolve into a random collection of tracks with no real theme or purpose. Statik has never shied away from this challenge and 8 may be his most cohesive effort yet. Taking a moment to consider the incredible surge of initial support from fans and production legends like Buckwild, Statik thinks this might be the most comfortable he’s ever felt as a producer. “I’m just in a great place with knowing what sounds right and where at this point,” he says. “Nothing felt forced or rushed. As the album was coming along it felt the most natural probably out of any album I’ve done.”

The official music video for “But You Don’t Hear Me Tho”.

Collaborations and ideas flowed together with ease throughout the making of 8, as was evidenced during the sessions for the aforementioned “But You Don’t Hear Me Tho”. Exercising his unique ability to bridge different musical worlds, Statik brought the artists sampled on Biggie’s “Juicy” alongside former B.I.G. collaborators and one-time Bad Boy artists The Lox for one of the album’s standout tracks. “I was in the studio working with Mtume, and they jumped right on it,” Statik recalls. “When the hook was done I heard the Lox on it immediately. I love how the video came out, showing me as a kid, then my daughter Harley now, going through records.”

Meanwhile, on “Ain’t a Damn Thing Change” featuring G-Eazy, Joey Badass, and Enisa, Statik shows off some next level sample manipulation while blending in several live instruments at the same time. “I put the sample through different pitch techniques, then reversed some of it,” he says. “Then I had my man utril play sax on it and at the last minute Brady Watt played bass.”

“I’m just in a great place with knowing what sounds right and where at this point. Nothing felt forced or rushed.”

Fans who own the physical version of 8 will notice a slight difference from the digital and streaming versions, as Statik made some last minute changes after the original master was submitted. “If you pay close attention, the vinyl and CD versions of 8 don’t have the live bass, only the iTunes/streams,” Statik explains. “I had added it after the master was turned in for printing and the drums change for Joey’s verse as well.”

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Many of the backstories on 8 are testaments to the power of collaboration, but the tale behind the Conway, Westside Gunn, and Termanology assisted “No. 8” will leave Mobb Deep fans wondering what could’ve been — as Prodigy almost recorded a verse to add further punch to an already incredible track before his untimely passing. Sadly, the mind-blowing collaboration never happened. “Mobb Deep was supposed to get on it as well,” Statik tells me. “We brought them out at summer jam, and Prodigy said he was gonna knock it out that week, and he passed four days later.”

Despite the heartbreaking missed opportunity, Statik is still happy with the final outcome. He knew the Buffalo natives Conway and Westside Gunn were a perfect fit for his beat as soon as he finished it. “I thought of them right away,” he says. And as a silver lining, Mobb Deep fans should note that Statik still included a memorable Prodigy solo cut as the album’s second to last track “Disrespekt”.

So what are Statik’s plans for future full-length solo albums after the positive buzz surrounding 8 and a recent deal with Roc Nation? He’s made no definitive decision either way, but it’s hard to imagine him hanging up his gloves after this project. For now, he’s happy enjoying a new level of confidence, creative control, and musical maturity.

You can connect with Statik Selektah on Facebook, SoundCloud, and Twitter @StatikSelekt.

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