Despite being raised in Boston, if you check DJ Statik Selektah’s bloodline, it’s evident the city of Brooklyn is embedded in his DNA. Enamored by the culture’s rich hip-hop history, the precocious producer partnered up with Neighborhood Flavor to throw his home of Bushwick a block party for the ages.
Spearheaded by Jack Daniels’ Tennessee Honey, Neighborhood Flavor tapped various artists including Mick Jenkins, E-40, LeToya Luckett and more to throw a culturally-driven block party for their respective hometowns. Last month, Selektah dazzled the residents of Bushwick with his immaculate performance on the DJ set. With food, music and art serving as the central ingredients to assemble the block party, Jack Daniels and Statik Selektah left Bushwick feeling victorious.
In a new interview with Billboard, Statik Selektah, spoke about his collaboration with Neighborhood Flavor, his favorite Brooklyn rappers of all-time and how Ready to Die and Reasonable Doubt shaped the borough musically.
How would you describe your love for Brooklyn?
Statik Selektah: I mean, I was raised off it, you know what I mean? Growing up and just listening to JAY-Z really helped. Not even the music, but some of the messages. I learned so much from listening to JAY-Z, M.O.P. and Gang Starr. Plus, I have a weird connection with it because I moved from Boston to Brooklyn. I’ve been in [Brooklyn] for over 10 years now. When I moved, you know Guru — he was a real good friend of mine, rest in peace.
Gang Starr was like the blueprint of my career. The last time I saw him was 2008. He said, “Yo. I’m proud of you. You’re the only dude that I know that went from Boston to Brooklyn and did it in hip-hop.” That always kind of stuck with me because you know, [Brooklyn] is really the foundation of everything. Brooklyn just got that energy to me that’s so hip-hop and so New York City. You know, New York City is the grittiest city in the world.
With that being said, what’s your fondest memory of living in Brooklyn, especially since now you’re a resident?
I mean, raising my daughter here, definitely, at this point. You know, she’s walking around, looking at all the art, dancing to the music, and going to all the block parties. That’s definitely my favorite memory in Brooklyn. She just turned 2. So the last two years have been a new life for me. She’s Brooklyn to the fullest. That’s my favorite memory. As far as music, definitely my studio in Bushwick.
When I was on Melrose Street, each weekend, we’d have nothing but legendary nights. From doing live EPs on U-Stream with Saigon, Freddie Gibbs and Freeway, to doing backyard parties where M.O.P. would perform and Sean Price was there everyday — rest in peace — there were so many crazy nights at that old apartment. I kind of had to grow up a little bit. I can’t party in the crib every night anymore, but I still get it in, just not at the crib [Laughs].
What made you decide to get onboard with Neighborhood Flavor?
It just sounded like the perfect opportunity to talk about Brooklyn and how [the city] influences my music, especially Bushwick. It’s a special neighborhood. My studio is there still. I do the block parties over there. It’s just such a dope neighborhood. It’s a great influence to all kinds of cities in the world to copy the layout.
Can you name your top five favorite Brooklyn rappers of all-time?
What was it about each artist that made Brooklyn so prominent?
You know? I gotta throw an honorable mention in there. I can’t leave out Joey Bada$$. I can’t leave Joey out of my original.
You know Joey was going to say something, right? [Laughs]
Honestly, I might have to replace Kane with Joey because he was a little bit before my time, even though I know all of his records and I went back, but as far as my generation and how I’ve been active in hip-hop, I gotta replace Kane with Joey. Definitely Biggie, Hov, M.O.P., Sean Price and Joey.
With that being said, do you feel that Brooklyn is the best borough when it comes to hip-hop in New York?
Yeah, just ’cause JAY and Big are two of the best. I think Queens is right there next to it, you know, with Nas, [Kool] G Rap and Prodigy [of Mobb Deep]. I just think Brooklyn is it, man. No one is really close to Big or JAY on my top five, you know?
How about your top five favorite Brooklyn albums of all-time?
What was it about Reasonable Doubt and Ready to Die that you appreciated so much?
Even with Reasonable Doubt, it’s kind of influenced by Illmatic, as far as the sound and the way it was put together, but that was the first album to me that intelligently broke down the street mentality of where JAY was at. You gotta also realize, his first album, he was 26-years-old. A lot of cats were coming in the game way earlier than that.
Nas wrote Illmatic when he was 18. So hearing Jay come out for the first time with such a mature album [brought] a different vibe to hip-hop. That’s why to this day, his longevity will always be timeless.
With Ready to Die, that was some of the most honest rhymes of all-time. There’s some real dark material on there that Biggie was going through. Both of those albums were groundbreaking.
How confident are you in the new wave of artists coming out of Brooklyn, like a Joey Bada$$ or a Desiigner trying to hold down the same borough that birthed some of the stars you named?
I mean, I got no worries about Joey. The way he moves and thinks, he’s beyond his years. He’s an old-soul, so I know he’s going to hold it down. There’s a lot cats coming from Brooklyn now that I think are still making temporary music and like flavor of the month stuff. That’s cool, but I hope these guys are able to have long careers, and the only way to really do that is to make what doesn’t sound hot this month.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are doing that, but there’s a couple of other cats that I think will be around for a long time like Flatbush Zombies. They’re creative and great are pushing the bar with certain sounds. Of course, the Pro Era kids with Kirk Knight, CJ Fly, Nyck Caution. There’s a lot of people.