West Coast meets East Coast on the forthcoming collaborative album Statik KXNG. The 10-track project features California lyricist Kxng Crooked delivering rhymes over production by Massachusetts board master Statik Selektah.
Of course this is not the first time the two Hip Hop representatives partnered with other artists for a joint musical effort. Statik’s discography includes complete bodies of work with Termanology, Freddie Gibbs, and Action Bronson. Crooked joined forces with Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, and Royce da 5'9” to form the rap supergroup Slaughterhouse.
While Royce recently linked up with DJ Premier for PRhyme and Joell collaborated with Illmind for Human, the rapper-producer tandem of Crooked and Statik has created its own unique presentation. Statik KXNG is rooted in a traditional Hip Hop soundbed with superior bars about the traps of fame, confronting social injustice, and other topics viewed through the eyes of the Long Beach wordsmith.
Kxng Crooked spoke with AllHipHop.com about his new LP with Statik Selektah. Part one of the conversation also includes the “Dead Or In Jail” spitter sharing his thoughts on modern-day battles, his home state’s rap scene, and current Hip Hop culture.
Whose idea was it to team up for a full joint album?
Statik hit me with the idea. We always talk about doing some sh*t. One day we were at the PRhyme concert, and we said, “Yeah, it might be that time.”
Knowing how Hip Hop fans are, it’s likely Statik KXNG is going to get compared to what Royce and Premo did with PRhyme or what Joell and Illmind did with Human. I know that’s your team, but is there ever any friendly competition when it comes to these collaborative projects?
I told Statik we should start a beef with PRhyme. [laughs] You know how it goes. The fans and supporters will have their opinions, and they’ll be vocal about it online. For us, it’s just about making a dope project that makes an impact. I would actually like to do a tour with PRhyme, Joell & Illmind, and ourselves.
I know you were joking about beefing, but that’s been in the news a lot recently. The Game put up a post where he suggested battles in Hip Hop have become too much of a thing that happens on social media as opposed to being a lyrical competition. Do you think the culture will ever go back to focusing on lyrics when talking about who’s the best or who came out the winner in a battle?
Unfortunately, it's almost like if you can make the best meme, you won the battle. It needs to get back to [being about lyrics]. I think that the power is in the people’s hands. This new generation of fans need to really understand the history of Hip Hop. I think once they open their minds to the way the culture started, they can begin to understand why a meme shouldn’t decide the battle.
You would think that in today’s industry, where you have the reemergence of battle rap, you would think it would be, “Okay, let’s listen to the lyrics. Who has the best lyrics?” You have all these dudes out here - Loaded Lux, Murda Mook, Arsonal - all these guys out here battling and getting millions of views on YouTube.
It’s almost like that’s a totally separate world then when two guys are beefing on wax. It’s really not. It comes from the same place. I just want to hear some dope sh*t. I’m hearing people's diss records, and the sh*t sounds horrible.
What did you think about Funk Volume’s response to Horseshoe Gang?
I think they did a cool job. At the end of the day, Horseshoe Gang is hungry. We are all. We pride ourselves on being hungary lyricists. Horseshoe was ready to go in and do a whole mixtape. I was like, “Nah, y’all ain’t got to do that.” But that’s just how hungry they are, they don’t give a f*ck. If you call them to make a Funk Volume diss for tomorrow, you’d have that sh*t tonight.
I thought the Hopsin sh*t was cool. Right now, I’m tripping on the fact that Hopsin and Funk Volume is supposedly breaking up. I don’t know if I really believe it. I don’t know what the issue really is. But if it's not too crazy, if I’m Hopsin, then I would just try to get past it.
[Funk Volume co-founder] Dame [Ritter] is a very smart and savvy dude. I think they made a good team. Hop might check out of there, and it could be hard to find another partner like that.
The West Coast movement is really rising. What are your thoughts about what’s happening in the Hip Hop scene out there right now?
It’s cool. I see people doing their thing. I went to the A$AP Yams Day event, and I saw my homie Joey Fatts from Long Beach there. It’s always good to see people move around and leave the city.
I know so many underground lyricists that my challenge is how do we get the spotlight on these dudes. The guys we got going - great, you’re doing your thing, feeding your families, living your dreams. That’s dope. But what about all these cats in the underground that are ridiculous with rhymes? It’s always part of my fight to bring those people to the spotlight, because I don’t think the world has seen the best of the West Coast yet.
You talked before about how the fans need to take a bit more control over the direction of the culture. When it comes to the type of rap music that’s currently being promoted the most, do you think that promotion is mostly because of what’s happening with the labels, the media, the fans, or the artists themselves?
I think we all share a little blame. For a corporation, it’s great for them. Eighty percent of the major labels’ music is going to be some sh*t that’s not thought provoking at all. When you have people turning up and living in this haze of clubbing, getting high, f*cking b*tches, and repeat - they’re not keeping their eyes on everything going on in the business. For the labels, that’s cool. They love that type of sh*t.
On a conspiracy theory level, are they trying to keep the music dumbed down so they can control a generation of Hip Hop fans and keep them distracted? That could be. On a fan level, it’s all good to turn up. I alway say when I go into a strip club, I don’t want to hear Slaughterhouse.
At the end of the day, artists are supposed to have some sort of voice, and the music is supposed to reflect the times. So when you have all these protests over kids getting killed by police officers, the terrorism, and all this sh*t going on, and none of the Hip Hop music reflects the times - if you put it in a time capsule, no one would know what the f*ck was going on in 2015-2016.
If they just listened to today’s music, they wouldn’t know what the f*ck was really happening in the world at this point. So yeah, I think the fans got to take control. We can’t lean on labels to do sh*t, because all they care about is the numbers. I get that, that’s business.
We got to take control of this sh*t. But from an artist standpoint, we got to refuse to do certain things. I refuse to do certain sh*t. I’ve been offered all types of songs with crazy Auto-Tune hooks and sh*t that would probably make me more relevant to a certain crowd. But I turned that sh*t down.
I felt like one of the themes presented on Statik KXNG was the idea of you not being willing to sell your soul. Can you explain what the idea of selling your soul means to you?
I think you sell your soul when you do something that goes against everything you believed in for money or fame. That’s when your soul is gone. That’s when you’ve sold it.
I believe in raw rhymes, raw beats, b-boying, graffiti, the pillars of Hip Hop. These are things I grew up wanting to be part of. I believe in studying your craft, because that's what the founding fathers did. It means something to be good.
I hate when people say “I’m not a rapper” or “I’m just a street dude with a talent.” Well, if you’re not a rapper then get the f*ck out of Hip Hop. I won’t compromise those things I believe in and stand for when I’m making music, even to my own detriment sometimes. But it is what it is. I’m not going to do it.
Statik KXNG is like, “Yo, we got to stop being so sensitive out here in Hip Hop.” It’s a lot of wack sh*t. Everybody’s trying to be super sensitive when they’re doing interviews or speaking their minds on the current state of Hip Hop.
I do believe in focusing on the positive. I don’t like being the bearer of bad news. But guess what? It’s a lot of wack sh*t that’s going to spawn new wack sh*t, because the kids listening to the wack sh*t thinks this is the way to craft his own sh*t. So now I'm listening to 16 and 17 year olds' Soundcloud pages, and they sound wack. It’s a domino effect that needs to be stopped.
[ALSO READ: Kxng Crooked’s Horseshoe Gang Responds To Funk Volume’s $500,000 Challenge On “Half A Meal” Diss (AUDIO)]
Kxng Crooked & Statik Selektah’s Statik KXNG album is scheduled for release on February 12. Pre-order the album on iTunes.
Check out the cover art and tracklist for Statik KXNG below.
1. I Hear Voices
2. Magic & Bird
3. Lost A Fan
4. Everybody Know
5. Dead Or In Jail
6. Stop Playing
7. Good Gone Bad
8. Lets Go featuring Termanology
9. B*tch Got Me F*cked Up
10. Brand New Sh*t
PHOTO CREDIT: Evan Iskovitz