If you were to turn on your radio right now, you will be inundated with trap or club style songs, intended to get both your vehicle and your body moving. This year has rightfully been called one of the best in hip-hop history. The two most anticipated releases quickly approaching contain experimental forays into the European electronic music world and off the wall vocal delivery. At this very important moment in hip-hop, it seems that the sound is increasingly becoming more diverse, but geared towards the sonic experience more than straight lyrical content-a phenomenon that has not been fully explored, and leaves one vital question unanswered…
Is East Coast boom-bap still relevant?
Ransom and Statik Selektah attempt to prove that the answer to this inquiry is a definite yes. Their collaborative effort on the new LP, The Proposal, has many of the traditional qualities of nineties hip-hop, but they present it in a way that doesn’t sound faded or jaded. Normally, during an album wishing to revive a specific feeling or sound perceived to be lost, there is a lot of anger, resentment, or bitterness felt throughout. Luckily, Ransom and Statik Selektah developed a style that incorporates the things that made boom-bap great, without blaming any specific group or arrogantly screaming about the East Coast’s decline. Therefore, the listening experience changes from preachy run-of-the-mill older head records into a refreshing escape into a sound that rarely finds its way into the mainstream.
Statik Selektah handles the production on all ten of the songs, which is a gift from God. To say that he does his thing on the album should come as given. That’s like saying: the sky is blue; Juicy J drinks a lot of lean and does drugs; Lebron’s hairline is slowly losing a dreadfully prolonged battle against his forehead. It’s obvious.
Selektah’s crates, by now, have to be a giant treasure trove that will make even the narrowest of music fiends shed one large Indian tear. The amount of samples on this album is mind boggling. From the expertly scratched hook on “Unexplainable,” to the tragically melodic key samples on “Life of Sin”, to the triumphant horns dominating “Reservoir Scars”, Statik keeps the production incredibly varied, while maintaining their quality. “1996” is one of the brightest spots on the album, containing The Lost Generation’s “The Sly, Slick, and the Wicked” sample that was made famous in Nas’ “It Was Written (Intro)”. Towards the end of “1996”, Selektah smoothly transitions from their song into Nas’. It was a cool moment on an album that is filled with Nas references, one that I’m sure they are proud of.
Ransom has been in the news or rumor mill since the summer, when one of his lines caught the hostile attention of Nicki Minaj. Luckily, that hasn’t hurt his rhyming ability, as he demonstrates his ability to keep up with Statik Selektah’s top notch production. Ransom is a premiere storyteller. On “I Do”, he details the ups and downs of the drug game though marriage metaphors, which was incredibly creative and good. “Life of Sin” is a melancholy journey through the trials of his career and his life. By far his most ambitious offering is “Reservoir Scars,” where he plays three robbers after a successful score. The way he effortlessly throws slick bars to represent their conversation makes it so engaging. At some points, their distrust for one another is incredibly frustrating, while at others it comes off as humorous paranoia. Either way, it grabs you in and makes for an interesting listen.
This album may end up spending a lot of time under the radar, where underground fans can really appreciate it. However, Statick Selektah and Ransom really put together a solid project in The Proposal. It has all of the elements you normally look for in a good album—great production, complex lyrical content—and then some. If you have the chance, and you are a fan of boom-bap, sample heavy music, you owe it to yourself to listen to this album.