Producer, Statik Selektah and emcee Action Bronson have both had monster years in 2011. Statik Selektah has released collaborative EPs with Freddie Gibbs and Freeway, his third LP, as well as various credits on albums by Reks, Apathy, Styles P and others. And chef-turned-rapper, Action Bronson has already released one of the year’s highest acclaimed albums, Dr. Lecter, and is many rap fans’ rookie of the year. These two underground superstars have united to produce one of 2011’s top albums, Well Done.
Bronson sounds right at home over Statik’s boom bap productions, and the beats are a noticeable step up from the break-beat focused Dr. Lecter (which was very well produced in its own right). The Ghostface Killah-sounding emcee has an affinity for culinary references, and despite his voice, which is identical to Supreme Clientele-era Tony Starks, is a refreshingly original rapper. He continues to reference rare cuisine dishes and obscure sports stars like on the ultra smooth “Cocoa Butter”: “The Derek Harper with the low cesar, flow fever / More than likely digging in your ho’s beaver.” Lyrically Bronsolinni is as sharp as he was on his debut, but there is a noticeable improvement in his subject matter. The culinary expert-turned-lyrical mastermind gets a little more personal on Well Done with tracks like “The Rainmaker,” where he spills his soul over Statik’s somber horns and on the “The Love Letter” he tells a story of a love gone awry.
Well Done is an exceptional release because both collaborators are consistently on their A game. Statik Selektah provides excellent soundscapes including the high energy “Time For Some” which appropriately features M.O.P.’s Lil Fame. And “Not Enough Words” features Bronson’s rapid-fire flow over a haunting vocal sample. Statik Selektah manages to produce a very cohesive record while at the same time providing enough variety in sounds to keep the album from being monotonous. On “Miss Fordham Road (86 87 88)” he uses Latin-influenced horns, and the boom bap masterpiece, “Keep Off the Grass” features neck-snapping drums. But Selektah’s finest moment might also be one of his least likely. The closer, “Boy Voyage” starts off with an excellent beat, but about halfway through there’s a majestic breakdown, which is a perfect ending to one of the year’s best albums.
With this release, Statik Selektah continues to prove that he one of hip hop’s finest beatsmiths. Meanwhile, Action Bronson shows that he will continue to be a force to be reckoned with. Currently New York hip hop doesn’t have a lot of young stars. Nicky Minaj and A$AP Rocky both claim The Big Apple, but their musical output is more southern-influenced. Action Bronson is proof that the traditional New York sound is still alive and well, as he cooks up another hot dish, Well Done.
- Zach Gase