Statik Selektah, 100 Proof (The Hangover)
Statik Selektah is from Massachussetts, but he loves him some NY-style hard-knock rap, and he's made a pretty solid career of curating whole albums of it. His production is solid and hard-hitting and unshowy; each beat provides a sturdy foundation and does little else, which makes sense when the rappers you're employing are sure-handed word technicians like Bun B, Wale, Talib Kweli, and Termanology. If you clutter up the space, these guys will just mow over it. Selektah wisely hangs back and lets his rapper friends take center stage.
While the vibe is pretty steady throwback, the sonic template, on closer examination, is surprisingly varied: "Critically Acclaimed" sets a grainy soul sample against a satisfyingly fat, clonking woodblock, and a reliably crazed, spittle-spraying Lil Fame sets it on fire. Styles P, Reks, Torae, Royce Da 5'9 — if you've got a blogger or two in your corner and are having trouble getting a record deal, you're probably already on this album. The whole thing is briskly mixed and moves at a clip that keeps your approving head nod from flagging over its 54-minute, 17-track run time. "So Close, So Far" is one of few laid-back moments, with an AM-radio sax floating above a contemplative Bun B verse (he does the Big Daddy Kane "I'll Take You There" wishful-thinking thing) and a particularly great turn from Wale, who sounds more focused and grounded here than he did on his frustratingly scattered full-length debut. Overall, another plate of gratifyingly spicy comfort-food rap.