I appreciate Statik Selektah for being a new(er) generation Northeast producer/DJ who doggedly sticks to that region’s boom-bap sound. But that devotion means that variety isn’t what anyone should come looking for on Extended Play. Statik’s script gets old sometimes, especially when he gives his weaker beats to less talented emcees, but I’d still strongly recommend this release to anyone who cared. Just don’t think of it as an album. Statik is calling it that, but getting a barcode and going above and beyond the photocopier at Staples for album inserts doesn’t stop this from being a mixtape. It has the usual hit-or-miss song quality, and the vast majority of the songs have a straightforward structured where 2-3 rappers talk about nothing in particular, like all other mixtapes. Shoot, Amazon even has the digital version on sale for the long-standing traditional mixtape price of $5!
So now that I’ve proven beyond a reasonable doubt that this is a mixtape, where I can skip wack songs with no remorse, I can say that Extended Play is pretty damn good. It even has some songs that I loved. Camouflage Dons is one, because Smif-N-Wessun and Flatbush Zombies sound surprisingly great together and the beat is an appropriately menacing banger that fits them well. This is my introduction to Flatbush Zombies and their energy is impressive enough that I want to find more music from them.
Bird’s Eye View is another really good song, in fact its my favorite here. It has the type of soul sample that I’m a sucker for and the verses are all very good. Raekwon starts it off then is bested by Joey Bada$$, but Black Thought easily eclipses both rappers with one of his trademark, show-stealing atom bombs. Sidenote: I’m still very annoyed that we can’t get these Black Thought verses all over The Roots’ albums anymore, but whatever, beggars can’t be choosers.
Besides those two gems, there’s plenty of other songs to like. Prodigy is by himself on Pinky Ring and the result is good enough to make me wonder if it came from his Albert Einstein album. Game Break, with Lecrae, Termanology, and Posdnuos of De La Soul, works well despite being one of the very few topical songs on Extended Play.
Meanwhile, Home by Talib Kweli is a pile of sugary drivel that I can’t stand. The lyrics are extremely basic, and some idiot said it would be a good idea for him to sing the hook. Don’t ask me why, I’ve no idea what anyone involved with this was thinking. Home should only be played to prove to your born-again grandma that hip-hop can sometimes be positive and completely non-provocative. Maybe she’ll like this edgeless junk. Kweli is increasingly becoming a caricature of himself: the conscious rapper that is featured in an attempt to inject some token wholesomeness into a mixtape that is 95% gangsta rap.
The last thing I have to discuss is the inclusion of a couple of songs that exhibit a historic spirit but otherwise could have been cut from the track list. Reloaded would be the expectedly forgettable hip-hop intro except that it features a few bars from DJ Tony Touch, whose “50 Emcees” mixtapes helped create the lane for these DJ/producer-centered, long list of emcees mixtapes. I love that Statik Selektah acknowledged this influence by including the older DJ.
In the same vein but with a more selfish motivation, the song East Coast has Noreaga explaining the part that LA LA, a song he made with Capone, Tragedy, and Mobb Deep, played in the East Coast – West Coast beef. It only took me one listen to get bored with the overall song, but I’m happy that it exists to potentially educate someone on this lesser-known part of the story.
All in all, Extended Play, is an inconsistent rap mixtape full of rappers rapping about the usual rap topics. I wish Statik had better taste in lyricists, but he still created an above average mixtape that I continue to enjoy.