The difference between Statik Selektah and the other brilliant sample chopping producers is the brightness inherent in his sound. When he taps into that element, not only does he set himself apart, but he seems to bring out the best raps from his featured artists. On his latest single “Keep It Moving,” we not only hear a beaming chop of the classic tune “Walk On By,” but some of the best rapping by Joey Badass and Nas in recent memory.
Selektah chose his features wisely for this song solely based on pocket. There isn’t one point where Joey or Nas feel like they are doing anything other than leaning right into the rhythm as they spit relentless heat. Out of the lyrics of the sample, “I just can’t get over losin’ you. So if I seem broken and blue, walk on by,” you hear Joey rap, “Now I won’t turn the other cheek, or walk away any time it’s beef. If it’s that, it’ll be your last shovel.” The delivery and execution of the transition are so astutely done. The concept of delving into the natural reaction of loss and grief pushed up against gleaming soul samples feels ethereal and poignant.
As Nas enters on the track, you feel as if he’s the perfect compliment to Joey immediately. He raps, “Possessed by Marcus Garvey, the vessel, the body. Ancestors inside me, I’m startin’ the insurrection.” While Joey speaks on his guttural and more youthful necessity for reaction to hurt, Nas takes an approach with more perspective. Rather than through raw emotion, Nas speaks through duty and a historical understanding that, when combined with his torment, evokes purity and completion to the composition.
In the following verses, the two MC’s have a conversation of mutual respect. Joey raps to end his verse, “’Cause it’s a hassle gettin’ caught up in the Devil’s lasso. And that’s what a wise man once told me. I got a lot of love and respect for my OGs.” In turn, to end his verse, Nas raps, “It all start from within. Suede Pumas back when I was chargin’ ’em ten. Who woulda knew I would rock them events? I rock with my young Gs, that’s just common sense.” Joey appreciates the wisdom of experience, and Nas appreciates passion and energy. The mutual gratitude is gratifying to hear on wax.
The song closes out with a satiating guitar solo by the illustrious Gary Clark Jr. It’s the cherry on top of a well-orchestrated arrangement by Statik that seems to be a potential lead single to an upcoming project. If this is a sign of what’s to come, we can only nod our head to the beat in approval.