Well respected DJ and producer Statik Selektah teamed up with multiple heavy-hitting lyricists on his 9th studio album, The Balancing Act. This album represents a significant moment for Statik as it comes on the 25th anniversary of him deciding to embark on a career in hip-hop during Thanksgiving of 1995, according to Statik.
One thing Statik has consistently done on his past projects is create beats perfectly suited for his collaborators, and The Balancing Act is no exemption to this specialty. Of note, the producer paired up with a multitude of rappers that include veteran emcees and youthful rappers who are gracefully carrying the torch of their predecessors. The album offers appearances from Joey Bada$$, Nas, Method Man, Black Thought, Kota the Friend, Styles P, Nick Grant, Benny the Butcher, Havoc, 2 Chainz, Dave East, Killer Mike, Jadakiss and many more.
Sonically, Statik stays true to his boom-bap style production by incorporating DJ scratching and samples of classic music. However, Statik’s efforts provide a more refined touch on the classic golden era New York style which keeps the record fresh and in-tune with today’s sound.
Tracks such as “Time” featuring Jack Harlow would be fine representation of Statik’s capacity for selecting beats that are adaptable for a variety of rappers. As it turns out, “Time” is also a favorite of Statiks. Jack Harlow does a stand-up job of recognizing the part that time plays in maintaining hopefulness through difficult circumstances by citing the pandemic, climate change and the untimely death of rap’s cherished producer-rapper Mac Miller.
While Statik provided new lyrical matchups with the album, The Balancing Act delivered a highly favored collaboration with Joey Bada$$. Whenever Joey and Statik work together the outcome is impressive, so Joey participating in one of the standout tracks was to be expected. Joey’s performance on “Keep it Moving” feat. Nas and Gary Clark Jr. clarified why the Brooklyn rapper is not to be doubted lyrically.
Joey and Nas trading bars blended rigorously over Statik’s soulful production. The rappers complimented each other’s multi-syllabic rhyme schemes and timeless flows so well that there was really no room to outperform each other.
Although there were plenty of artists from different eras and regions lending their pen to the album, there's a connection with each perspective that points back to general themes of consciousness and self-preservation. This subject matter was introduced on the album by no one other than Black Thought with the intro track "The Healing." On the track, Black Thought promptly addresses racism at the hands of law enforcement.
Jadakiss, Styles P, and Termanology took a similar approach that resonates with the today's political climate on the track "America is Canceled." In contrast to most of the album's current subject matter, "Way Up" feat. Bun B, Havoc, and Haile Supreme carried a more nostalgic and sentimental meaning. The artists pay tribute to some of hip-hop's fallen soldiers over the warm, gentle instrumental.
Overall, The Balancing Act plays as a testament for how a natural chemistry between artists and a producer can enhance the overall listening experience. Statik’s ear for music and solid judgement in rappers is easily exemplified on The Balancing Act.