The South’s domineering stronghold on mainstream Hip-Hop has caused some of the East Coast rappers to do the darnedest things. Unwarranted disses stemming from frustration have hampered the image of some, while others hang with a crowd so country, the younger generation probably doesn’t even know their origin. And it doesn’t help how everyone is talking about New York losing its luster.
Enter Statik Selektah.
Mostly known for his mixtape collaborations with heavyweights such as Wu-Tang Clan and Nas, the up and coming DJ shows and proves his clout on his first full length album Spell My Name Right (The Album), which boasts a multitude of blue collar MC’s from the East such as Talib Kweli, Termanology, Joell Ortiz, and the entire Lox.
Produced entirely by himself, the Boston born DJ crafts several solid tracks which allow the various collaborations to turn into a rhyme festival while simultaneously unifying the now underdog East Coast. On “What Would You Do?!”, former rivals Freeway and Cassidy rep Philly to fullest with no shortage of clever metaphors. The banging “6 In The Morning” finds Joell Ortiz, Kool G Rap, and Sheek Louch flowing effortlessly about their past street life while its polar opposite “Got Me Goin’ (Hip-Hop)” features Slum Village and Granite Strate praising their love for the music with equal flavor. And skill knows no age on the excellent finale “Did What We Had To Do” where KRS-One, L Da Headtoucha, and Large Professor all deliver exceptional verses.
While East Coast rappers may be wittier with their lyrics than their Southern counterparts, that doesn’t exactly make them more creative. Basically every song featured on the compilation is filled with “hot 16’s” without any real depth behind them with the occasional MC dropping a dud (i.e. Cormega on “Back Against The Wall”). On the other hand, Statik’s scratches on the turntables are rather impressive but the inclusion of some fairly overused samples such as “Bam Bam”, “Talk To Me”, and “Hardcore (So You Wanna Be)”, make the album lose some of its freshness. Sometimes you gotta dig a little deeper for inspiration.
Spell My Name… won’t bring the East back to the limelight, but what it does accomplish is how it highlights some of the talent that’s brewing up in New York, and set the anticipation for any future projects from Termanology because he seems to appear on every song. Still Statik gets the nod for creating an album packed full of music that’s considered sacred to many. But when the segregation barriers plaguing the culture are broken down, even more people will be satisfied.