Audio Mixer: Statik Selektah.
Literate as ever and a bit more bitter to boot, Strong Arm Steady are on top of their game the whole way through Stereotype, an album where producer Statik Selektah gets co-billing, and deservingly so. Besides the sunny day vibe he brings to "Do Ya Thing Girl (Jook)" and the wonderful loops he lays on the aptly titled "Premium," Statik speaks through his productions here, letting loose some angry Black Panther samples during the opening "Truth of the Truth" and dropping some soulful blues lyrics during the rainy day "LA Blues," with S.A.S. regular Planet Asia, along with the true statements that this album is the "Strong Arm gold rush" and "out the park like Babe Ruth." Both the title "Classic" and the track itself are spot-on as Statik brings some broken funk to the group's casual smoking circle, where their credo of "Came from where the blood stains don't make it to the street drains/Only way to maintain is to blow loud and campaign" is rattled off effortlessly, along with some insight into this righteous crew's evolution as "Back in the day, there was a time where I wore the chandeliers on my neck/But nowadays I just command that respect" reveals their thug roots, and why this underground and edgy group can hang with folks like David Banner. Speaking of which, Banner gives his best punch to the key cut "Through the Motions," a track that suggests what Stankonia would have sounded like had it been released by Stones Throw. The track also represents the one caveat that goes with any recommendation as it appeared on the six-track preview, the Stereotype EP, along with the completely stoned "Smoke On" with Dom Kennedy, and a handful of other strong tracks. Fans who devoured the EP need to justify those cuts finding their proper home here, but otherwise this is the worthy sequel to the group's Madlib collaboration In Search of Stoney Jackson, and that's meant as high praise. ~ David Jeffries