A look at Stat's Shady/Aftermath debut, out this August 28. PLUS: Stat talks on Dre's "Detox"!
Stat Quo's debut album, Statlanta, is finally dropping in 2003. 2004. 2005. 2006. 2007. You think we lie. We do not lie. Stat came through VIBE last week and played us some tracks, snippets and sneak previews from his oft-pushed, much-anticipated record. He also talked about where he's been, and gave a little insight into the work behind another long-delayed album: Detox, which he's been working on with Dr. Dre in a top-secret hole in the ground somewhere on the West Coast. Not really about that last part, but as Stat put it, "We can live like groundhogs, so long as the music's crazy." (click "read more" for an interview and a whole lot more)
We didn't hear full songs, but an early assessment: we are excited. The man is bringing a broad spectrum of topics, feelings, smarts and pensive flows, over a strong soul-sample overlay and some of the hottest Dre beats in years. And the album includes absolutely no "snapping, trapping or crunk. No disrespect to anyone. But my neck fuckin hurts," joked Stat.
Tracks, all tentatively titled:
"Testify" (prod. Eminem, f. Eminem): A proper intro to Statlanta - replete with organ intro, clattering beat and gospel choir - that establishes Stat's preeminence.
"Next One" (prod. Eminem, f. Eminem): metallic, grindy synth with Em on a hook.
"Fire" (f. Bilal, prod. Dr. Dre): Why Bilal? "Dude is fire, and he's my good friend, even though he wears rings on his feet," Stat quipped. Dre lives up to the name of this one, with a spare, ominous piano and tambourine on the slow burn. Stat is "low, fresh, lean like a kickstand I guess."
"G.R.I.T.S. (Girls Raised in the South)" (prod. Dawaun Parker & Che Vicious): You know what it is: Stat puts his swagger on the Southern ladies.
"The Way it Be" (f. Scarface, prod. Dr. Dre): "This is one of my favorite songs," Stat said of the song's palette of rough life and class inequality.
"Stat Quo" (prod. Dr. Dre): He described this as an autobiography - where he came from, where he's going. It opens with the sound of pen to paper, scribbling, and lays it down on a more classically Dre-sounding, stormy production.
"Finger to Sky" (prod. Scott Storch): One of our favorites - a scorching hot club track whose chorus - "finger to the sky… and fuck the world" - will ensure it never sees the light of day on the radio. A shame, cause Storch is surpassing himself with a twerky xylophone-sounding beat. ?uestlove played drums live, too, and Stat's a self-proclaimed Roots fan. "It was kinda cool... he came down to Miami to play drums on it, and had his whole 'fro out."
"30 Minutes": This pays respect to women who have been abused and turn suicidal - his roughish voice translates really well to more serious tracks, showing his capacity to be emotionally evocative. Includes a sample by lesbian (?) Russian pop duo T.a.T.U.
"All Hood": (f. Nikki Grier, prod. Dr. Dre): Thumping bass and silky vocals by Nikki Grier (Pam's daughter) on this track about growing up in Atlanta.
"Goin Somewhere": (prod. Keezo Kane): Kane makes good on representing Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music with soul snaps and samples.
According to Stat, the album will also include features by Young Buck, Devin the Dude, Three 6 Mafia, and Dr. Dre and Eminem, of course.
The burning question: why has this album taken so damn long to come out? "I recorded a lot of records," explained Stat," but I was trying to make a cohesive album. And working with Dr. Dre - we know how long Detox is taking to come out. He's a perfectionist like no one you've ever met. Time doesn't matter - the music has to be right. We can live like groundhogs, as long as the music's crazy."
As for the four years the album was supposed to see the light of day, he explained, "That was just me bein impatient. It's hard to be working on something and seeing your friends making so much money, driving Lamborghinis, seeing them on awards shows, and you're just like, 'I was just at your mama's house!' It was hard. But I spent the last ten months working on the Detox, finishing writing for other artists. I went to South America with Dre on a private island just to chill. Well, it wasn't just me and Dre - there were some ladies, too. It was dope. I was standing in like, an $8 million crib, getting a massage. Not to floss or anything- it's just that I'm from Atlanta, and we don't even got a beach."
On working on Dre's insanely anticipated Detox:
"Me, Em and Dre just vibin. I have a lot of respect for them - it's about the music to them. If I had that much money, I wonder if I would be as about the music as they are. They still work like they're broke. A lot of people just go to the studio and make the record. Workin on Detox, we'd hang out, Snoop would come through. We'd go BBQ, hang out, but there's a studio there . When you make music work, it sounds like work. When I heard "The World is a Ghetto," "Comin Out Hard," "Straight Outta Compton," it sounded like those places, I wanted to go there.
On Statlanta's lack of crunk, snap, trap or any other currently-popular ATL outlier:
"The first version of Statlanta had more 'Southern' production. But me and Dre and Em sat down and all said, let's do something else. We listened to how hip-hop was going and we wanted to show people you can go against the grain and do things your own way."
Working in Detroit with Eminem.
"If you've ever been to Detroit, the sun's like allergic to Detroit. And where Em works, it's some real grimy shit - it's the mood attached to the music. You get in there and can't help but start thinking about grimy shit. We'd just write about whatever. He's probably going to kill me for this, but we made a song about Smoothies. We'd order smoothies every day, so we made a song about it."
On releasing Statlanta in an entirely transformed record industry:
"When I was first signed, I was like, I wanna go platinum! And Dre was like, 'Platinum? Three million.' I was like, 'Three million?! I only got 50 people in my cell!'
Now the record industry is a little different. I'm excited , but I'm also nervous, cause you gotta be with what's going on with rap. I think executives are at a loss. People aren't making as much as they once did. But I believe in my product, song for song, I feel what I'm talking about. We at war, shit. It's fucked up around here - the reality of a regular man, and a lot doesn't get addressed. If you get into my album, it's about the struggle of life."