Statik Selektah mourned with the rest of the Hip-Hop community when he learned beloved De La Soul member Trugoy The Dove (AKA Dave) had died. It was February 12, less than three weeks before De La Soul’s first six albums would finally land on DSPs after an exhaustive fight with Tommy Boy Records. It was going to be a monumental year for the trio, but the Amazon Music event planned for March 2 at Webster Hall—which was intended to serve as a celebration for the group’s hard-won victory—wound up doubling as a memorial.
So it seems poignant Statik Selektah’s latest album Round Trip includes the single “Round Trip (For Dave)” featuring fellow De La Soul member Posdnuos. The emotive track marks the first time Pos has grieved for his fallen friend on a record.
“When I sent him the beat, I had a feeling he was gonna do that,” Statik Selektah tells AllHipHop. “Obviously, he hadn’t made anything since Dave passed. It was only a couple of days after. He sent it back and I was blown away by it. De La Soul is such a big part of my life. My first actual tour was with them. I actually became friends with them.”
Like many others, Statik Selektah was aware Trugoy The Dove had been wrestling with health issues, including congestive heart failure and diabetes, but his death still came as a shock.
“We didn’t think that was going to happen right then,” he says. “I had known about the Webster Hall event that they would ever have for the release of the streaming albums. Everybody was looking forward to that. They hadn’t announced it yet. But then to find out he passed away before he got to see all the albums go live. The timing couldn’t have been worse.”
Statik Selektah recognizes how fortunate he is to have such legendary artists contribute to his work—and he doesn’t take it for granted. In addition to Posdnuos, Round Trip boasts features from Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Bun B, AZ and M.O.P., to name a few. But considering it’s his tenth time doing a compilation album, he has a sense of who’s going to be a good fit for each particular track. One particular song, “Unpredictable,” was a milestone moment for him.
“You gotta look for new ideas and new vibes, but to do a Wu-Tang song was really big for me,” he says. “The whole story behind that song is really crazy. Before it came out, I was really stressed out ’cause I’d been hearing RZA is not easy…I don’t want to word this wrong. I just heard it’s not that easy to put a Wu-Tang joint out like that.
“Raekwon was like, ‘Make sure you talk to the Abbot, make sure you talk to the Abbot.’ Literally three days before the song dropped, I got on the phone with the RZA and he loved it, he gave me his blessing, let me use the logo and all that. It couldn’t have worked out better. I got very lucky with that one. It all came together within a crazy, 30-minute span a couple days before that song came out. Shout out to RZA.”
While he admits the behind-the-scenes stuff was “more complicated,” making the song wasn’t. In fact, every track on the album came together quite smoothly.
“The Bun B with Ab-Soul and Conway—that’s Griselda and TDE on a song,” he says. “Putting Bun on there kind of bridged the gap. He’s one of those people in Hip-Hop that everybody respects. The rest of the album was jut different approaches with different songs. But I always take pride in introducing some new cats, like not necessarily brand new, but cats people haven’t heard of yet.”
Find the full album below and look out for Part II of the Statik Selektah interview soon.